Monday, September 24, 2018

REED


Human trafficking is the second largest industry worldwide and the fastest growing, generating annual profits of $32 billion. The UN and human rights groups estimate that between 12 million and 27 million people are trafficked each year. An alarming statistic from UNICEF states that two children per minute are trafficked for sexual exploitation─an estimated 1.2 million every year.

Human trafficking is often described as a modern form of slavery. Legally it is defined as the recruitment, transportation, and/or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation, typically for sexual exploitation or forced labour. These actions are accomplished by means of force, the threat of force, or other forms of coercion. It is always involuntary because even when consent is achieved, it is through some form of fraud, deception, kidnapping or abuse of power. Victims are forced to provide their services under circumstances where they fear for their safety or that of someone known to them if they refuse. Victims suffer physical, sexual and emotional abuse and they exist in deplorable living and working conditions.

Who is Being Trafficked?

Most at risk are women, the poor, youth, widows, orphans, and those with a history of abuse. Women make up 70% of the worlds’ poor so it’s not surprising that women are more vulnerable to exploitation as they often support their families, work in unregulated sectors of the economy, and have little or no access to education or employment. This vulnerability is exploited and they fall into the hands of traffickers.

Trafficking in Canada

According to the RCMP, two to three thousand people are trafficked into or through Canada each year. These numbers are likely low since it is widely believed that only 1 in 10 victims in trafficking report to the police. Of these numbers, most are women and children, and all are destined for the sex trade. It is reported that Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking.

How do we respond?

In scripture we are called to be a voice for these women and children.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”     Proverbs 31: 8-9

Canada currently has no legislated protection for trafficked women. So far we have taken an approach that criminalizes the traffickers but does not offer any legislated protection for trafficked persons nor a route to permanent protection. The Justice Canada government website provides the following Help information for victims under the control of traffickers:

  • Call 911 and you will be connected to the police, fire department and ambulance service.
  • Visit your local emergency shelter or victim’s service centre.
  • If you are sick go to the hospital or doctor’s office.

Certainly we are lacking in our support for these victims of trafficking.

The victims of human trafficking are indeed among “the lost and the least” and what is happening to them is a huge injustice.

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?”    Isaiah 58: 6

REED is a Vancouver-based anti-trafficking organization whose name R-E-E-D translates to: resist exploitation, embrace dignity. Since 2005, they have been standing in solidarity and struggle with women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked into the sex industry. REED works to end human trafficking and sexual exploitation through an approach to change in the radical tradition of Christ. Here are their strategies:

The first is Outreach through a combination of community education and awareness–raising, as well as direct outreach strategies. They regularly provide friendship to women in the sex industry and respond to crisis calls around sex trafficking.

The second is Assistance to women through crisis intervention and coordination of care. They serve women through in-house services and referrals to partner agencies.

Advocacy and Education, REED initiates and drives campaigns that will address the status of women and end sexual exploitation. They also educate community groups, churches, service providers, law enforcement and organizations.

Prevention, REED is committed to eradicating the demand for paid sex that drives the market in which women are exploited. With no demand for paid sex women will not be prostituted.

Task Force and Coalition Building, REED founded and chairs a coalition for the abolition of sex trafficking and actively participates in community-building with other organizations and individuals to affect change.

Grassroots Community Action, REED empowers communities and individuals to take action against trafficking and sexual exploitation in their own local context.

For more information on how you can help REED with Direct Action, Education, Volunteering or a Donation, please visit their website: www.embracedignity.org