Human trafficking means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving ofr receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having controlover another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Sister Sheila Smith reminded the bishops that human trafficking is a modern form of slavery. It is a violation of human rights and a serious crime, and it takes place in Canada. A conservative estimate is that at least 800 people are traficked into Canada each year, and from 1500 to 2200 people are trafficked each year through Canada to the United States.
I will pass on to you a story from the Canadian Red Cross, Vancouver, B.C. It is quoted in the Canadian Religious Conference Awareness and action Kit for High School Students "Human Trafficking and the 2010 Olympics:
" I wanted to get out of Thailand, so when the opportunity came to make lots of money and live in a big city in Canada, I took it. Upon my arrival at the airport, a group of men met me, took my passport 'for safe keeping', and drove me to a house where there were lots of otheer young women. Soon I realized I was trapped. I couldn't leave the house and was told I had to pay back $30,000 for my passage. When I asked how I was to get the money, I was told the only way was for me 'to service' men everyday. For months, I was kept in the locked house, given little food, and escorted daily by force, to a brothel. One of the men said, "You will do what we tell you if you want your family to live." Eventually government officials found and raided the house. I don't know what will happen to me now, since I have no official identity."
"Canada is part of this modern form of slavery. The sex industry inCanadian cities forces trafficked persons to work as escorts, strippers, and prostitutes. Canadians creat demand for these trafficked sex workers. There is also evidence of trafrficking for labour exploitation in industries such as : construction, agriculture and domestic work."
The Bishops of British Columbia and Yukon have issued a Pastoral Letter on Human Trafficking http://www.rcav.org/ht/index.htm. I will give one small quote from this letter: "As a community committed to the following of Christ, we dedicate ourselves to making every effort to help those who have been victimized to regain their sense of dignity. We call upon all men and women of good will to eliminate the mentality that treats hman beings as commodities of commercial exploitation and as objects of pleasure. With God's help this can be accomplished by strong legislation, use of the media, and above all through prayer and good example."