4 of 14 - Prostitution and Human Trafficking in Canada

  • The RCMP estimates that 600 to 800 people are trafficked into Canada annually year, and another 1500 to 2200 persons are trafficked through Canada to the United States annually. 90% of Canada’s trafficking cases involve domestic human trafficking and less than 10% involve people being brought into Canada. Community organizations estimate that as many as 16,000 Canadians are trafficked annually. (RCMP, Statistics Canada)

   Canada is a source, destination and transit country for human trafficking. Human trafficking is a $32 billion per year business with 79% of victims destined for the sex industry.  

   The trafficking of girls and women is driven by demand. If there was no demand, there would be no trafficking or prostitution

   There is a high demand for young girls. A recent court case in BC concerned 10 underage girls who had been forced into prostitution. Girls are vulnerable due to poverty, childhood sexual abuse, family breakdown, and addiction issues. 85% of prostituted women were sexually abused as children.

   The average age of entry into prostitution in Canada is 13 years of age. The typical age range of females trafficked for sexual exploitation by organized crime networks in Canada is between 12-25 years of age.   (Centre for Research & Education on Violence Against Women and Children)

   There is a high level of trafficking of Aboriginal girls between the ages of 7 to 12. Traffickers are reportedly both within and outside of Aboriginal communities. Aboriginal girls are grossly over-represented in prostitution and among the women who have been murdered in prostitution. Aboriginal girls are over-represented in street prostitution while Asian girls are over-represented in indoor prostitution.

   The majority of the victims are lured, tricked or trafficked into prostitution.  30% of street youth are involved in the sex industry primarily for survival. 

   Most traffickers deceive girls and women with false promises, then take their identification, isolate and/drug them, and threaten them in order to get them to comply. 

   Traffickers seek out victims at bus stations, shelters, group homes, bars, malls and schools.  Women and girls from remote or marginalized communities are recruited to the cities and found in bus stops, shopping malls etc. Vulnerable girls and women are lured through social media, dating website, chat lines, BackPage.com and CraigsList.com.    

Image Credit: By The Blackbird (Jay Black) (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo location is Vancouver's downtown east side near Oppenheimer Park.

Other links:

Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children – The Learning Network

Video clip from HopefortheSold.com: How Pimps Recruit: Harmony's Story