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Standing Up Against Human Trafficking

Catholic Women’s League (CWL)

Human Trafficking is a violation of human rights and a serious crime. The BC Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking defines trafficking as “the recruiting, harbouring and/or controlling of a person for the purpose of exploitation.” The exploitation of a trafficked person can take many forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour and coerced organ removal.

On Friday, November 14th, members of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) from across the province participated in a Human Trafficking Conference hosted by the International Anglican Women’s Network in Sorrento, BC.  Keynote speakers included the Hon. Joy Smith, MP for Kildonen-St. Paul, Sister Nancy Brown of Covenant House, Glendene Grant, founder of Mothers Against Trafficking Humans (MATH), Corp. Jassy Bindra, RCMP, and The Rev. Terry Robinson, Executive Director of Women in Church and Society (Anglican Communion Office, London, England).

Glendene Grant founded MATH after her daughter was a victim and her story put a face to the horrors of trafficking. The Hon. Joy Smith has been instrumental in presenting and supporting various amendments to the Criminal Code with regards to human trafficking. She wrote The Tipping Point, supporting Bill C-36, which just became law, making the purchase and advertising of sexual services illegal. Sister Nancy Brown and her staff at Covenant House provide a safe haven for youth in the Vancouver downtown eastside. She shared their journey from victim to survivor, and how they work to empower vulnerable youth to make changes in their lives. Corp. Jassy Bindra brought real-life examples on how the Criminal Code is applied to human trafficking cases before the courts. The Rev. Terry Robinson shared how the Anglican Church is nationally working with the Catholic Church and other denominations to combat human trafficking. She shared a picture of a poster campaign in South Africa that showed two people with the words: She sees her future in medicine, he sees her a slave.

Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and ending it requires changes in systems such as legislation, regulation, policy, enforcement and accountability and inter-jurisdictional co-ordination. We need to provide programs that address root causes such as poverty, inequality, abuse, violence, and racism as well as developing intervention strategies (crisis lines, emergency support, safe houses, counseling) to help a person rebuild his or her life. And, we need to continually build awareness that human trafficking affects us all. “…their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God…and God heard their groaning.” (Exodus 2:23-24).

 

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