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Rebekah Boody- The Effects of Sex Trafficking on Young Women in Canada

Social Work 201 Inquiry Project

Rebekah Boody

on 28 February 2014

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Transcript of Rebekah Boody- The Effects of Sex Trafficking on Young Women in Canada

Prostitution and Sex Trafficking
The difference between prostitution and sex trafficking is that trafficked women are forced to provide sexual services and are coerced in a variety of abusive manners, depriving women of their right to make decisions. Free prostitutes, in contrast, may endure physical and sexual abuse in the same way, but not in the context of captivity (McCabe, 2011).
Sex Trafficking Operation in Canada- A Thriving Industry
What is Sex Trafficking?
Physical Effects on Trafficked Women
A report of the physical and psychological impacts of trafficking on 200 women brought into Europe from more than 20 countries discovered effects comparable to repeated torture (Baird, 2007).
These women described experiences such as being burned, having their heads banged against hard surfaces, beaten with bats, kicked while pregnant, threatened with knives, and dragged by the hair.
As previously mentioned, many women experience abuse prior to being trafficked (60%); this augments and prolongs the effects of trauma because the sooner and more often violence occurs, the more influential its effects are (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Research on the physical effects of sex trafficking is limited, and not deemed fully reliable because much of the research is reliant on women's personal reports. Furthermore, personal accounts cannot be generalized and applied to all women because they each have unique experiences, though many are comparable.
Furthermore, because many victims experience memory loss, their participation in legal procedures is hindered (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Psychological Effects on Trafficked Women
Very little research has been done on psychological effects, even in comparison to physical effects.
As of 2012, only one study used a credible diagnostic procedure to evaluate mental health among trafficked women (Oram et al., 2012).
Longer durations of trafficking and violence may be linked to higher levels of mental distress (Oram et al., 2012).
While most physical effects can be treated or heal with time, psychological effects such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, hostility, and anxiety endure long after being rescued and counseled (Oram et al., 2010). Such effects often haunt women the rest of their lives.
Mindset Responses
Numerous women in various studies have claimed that their traumatic experiences led them to mature and become more confident (Zimmerman, 2006).
The Effects of Sex Trafficking on Young Women in Canada
Case Studies
Benjamin Perrin (2010) described the court case of "Eve," a young trafficked girl, in an article promoting the passing of Bill C-268. Eve's story as exerted from Perrin's article is an excellent example of the events leading to and following the trafficking of young girls in Canada:
Imani Nakpangi, Canada’s first convicted child trafficker earned a total of over $360,000 over a two and a half year period by selling “Eve” (her real name has been protected) – a 15-year-old girl who had been homeless – for sex. His illicit profits were used to purchase a BMW and a large home in Niagara Falls for himself.Nakpangi brutally controlled Eve by assaulting her, threatening her, and threatening to kidnap her brother.
Nakpangi was convicted of human trafficking on 24 June 2008 by Atwood J. in Brampton, Ontario, and sentenced to just three years on that count. Factoring in his pre-trial custody credit, Nakpangi will spend less time in jail for this conviction than he spent exploiting this vulnerable girl whose life he has destroyed.
In her own words, here is an excerpt from Eve’s Victim Impact Statement that was read into the court record. It reveals just a glimpse of her ongoing trauma and fear:
Project Conclusions
"Statistics are people with their tears wiped dry."
(Parrot & Cummings, 2008)
Canada's Legislation
Why I chose this topic
In 2011 I went to Bogota, Colombia where I volunteered in orphanages, slum schools, retirement homes, on the streets, at-risk care centres, and an organization which cared for prostitutes with young children. This organization expecially stood out to me and I spent many afternoons visiting with the girls there (ages 11-21) and helping them care for and love their babies. Upon returning to Canada my passion for the women suffering in the sex industry augmented as I attended conferences and seminars on sex trafficking. I hope to return overseas to help care for these women who face injustice, but I have become more and more interested and heartbroken by the sex industry within my own country. Therefore, I will be researching this topic in the hope of becoming more informed about those I long to help, and how I can do this effectively.
The United Nations defines human trafficking as "the recruitment, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons by threat or use of force" and is dependent on what is done to the victim, how it is done, and why the acts of coercion and trafficking are executed (Cameron & Newman, 2008).
Sex slavery occurs all over the world, forcing both men and women into pornography, social prostitution, military prostitution, spousal prostitution, or sex ring tours.
Trafficking is also known as "people smuggling," which is illegal but very common between the Mexican and U.S. borders. Nonetheless, smuggling and trafficking are different as smuggling is simply the movement of a person to a different country, while trafficking involves coercion and does not necessarily have to involve moving to a different country (McCabe, 2008).
It can involve physical and verbal abuse, threats, isolation, monetary control, rape, and various forms of torture (Farley, 2008).
There is great range in the number of current trafficking victims, but most sources estimate that 3-4 million individuals are currently being trafficked throughout the world (McDonald, Moore, & Timoshkina, 2000).
80% of these victims are women and children, generating approximately $32 billion each year for the sex industry (Farley, 2008).
The RCMP has estimated that 800 to 1,200 people are trafficked in and through Canada each year, while other estimates vary up to 16,000 (McDonald, Moore, & Timoshkina, 2000). Clearly, estimating such a number is impossible because the majority of these victims are smuggled in, or enter the country expecting to find employment as nannies, maids.
The Future Group, a non-governmental organization dedicated to combating sex trafficking, gave Canada a failing grade (Brock, 2010).
The majority of research that has been done focuses on women coming from Asia, though studies suggest that 2/3 of women trafficked as sex slaves come from Eastern Europe (McDonald, Moore, & Timoshkina, 2000).
Canadian legislation has been criticized for overlooking the effects and contemporary forms of trafficking in brothels and homes and is considered several years behind the United States in seeking human justice regarding this topic. It was not until 2005 that Canada made sex trafficking officially illegal, in comparison to the U.S. who passed similar laws five years earlier (Perrin, 2008).
Many of these women blend in with society as they are a range of ages and races. However, the majority of women are young adults and teenagers as 42% of trafficked women interviewed in one study were 21 - 25, many were younger and few were older than this (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Who are the Victims?
40% of women in this study reported having children. This has several implications as single mothers are in greater need of a job. Thus, the longer a woman is trafficked, the more likely it is she will become pregnant, and the assumed need to prostitute herself increases.
60% of interviewees had experienced violence prior to being trafficked. 32% were sexually abused and 50% were physically abused. (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
“To the casual observer, they blend in seamlessly with the women who have chosen to take money for sex, in their cheap makeup, sleazy outfits, stiletto heels, they walk the same walk, and talk the same talk. They smile, they wink, they pose and they strut, but they do it because they know what will happen if they don’t" (Brock, 2010).
Arguments for Legalization of Prostitution
The Victims (Continued)
As Canada and the U.S. have become increasingly popular destinations for those in search of a job, so they have become havens for human traffickers. Therefore, parents in need (or want) of money can easily send a child to Canada to work and mail money back to their family. Economic globalization has combined with capitalism to inspire human trafficking, whether by strangers or relatives (Waigh, 2007).
In Northern Thailand especially, families pressure their daughters into the sex industry to fulfill material desires, such as a new car, house, or TV (Waigh, 2007). The pressure to have similar consumer products as neighbours and friends leads parents to sell their children into modern day slavery.
The idea of children providing for their parents, even within the context of trafficking, is often more accepted in Asian cultures as it may be considered the children's duty to obey, protect, and provide for their families (Brock, 2010).
In a 2006 study, 1 in 5 women trafficked for the sex industry reported that a relative knew their trafficker (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Many are forced into prostitution by their spouse (McCabe, 2008).
Many trafficked women are prostitutes who chose to enter the trafficking industry hoping it will increase their business, not realizing the coercion and confinement involved in trafficking (McCabe, 2011).
Legalized prostitution does not legalize all brothels, only those which have been inspected and certified as safe.
However, this protects traffickers as it makes it difficult to differentiate legal prostitutes, and trafficked prostitutes(McCabe, 2011).
Men can locate women for purchase through pornography and prostitution websites (Agustin, 2007). Photos of the "product" are used as advertisements to attract sex consumers (Farley, 2008).
A teenage girl in Brazil said in an interview that since she had been sexually abused her entire life, she may as well be paid for her work and thus, entered prostitution after being rescued from a trafficking brothel (Farley, 2008).
The key changes that would come from legalizing prostitution would ensure a clean environment and HIV testing of prostitutes (Brock, 2010).
Ironically, some in favour of legalizing prostitution state the the title "sex worker" does not justly include the physical and psychological violence entailed in prostitution and believe that different titles should be formed in order to create a more positive view of the occupation (Farley, 2008).
Arguments Against the Legalization of Prostitution
Though there is evidence that women face drastically increased violence after entering the sex industry, there is no research on whether legal prostitutes suffer less violence than enslaved prostitutes (Oram, Stoökl, Busza, & Zimmerman, 2012).
Benjamin Perrin has stated that legalizing prostitution will not solve the problem of human trafficking, it will simply provide a more expensive form of prostitution, making illegal brothels even more desirable for sex addicts who mainly desire a risk (2010). Furthermore, legal brothels would not necessarily promote the rights of prostitutes, but of the consumers.
For example, the men would not be examined for HIV in order to protect the women, but the prostitutes would be examined for the health protection of their customers.
Another study reported similar findings, stating that headaches (82.3%), fatigue (81.3%), dizziness (70.3%), back pain (68.8%, and memory problems (62.0%) were the most common physical problems trafficked women faced (Oram et al., 2012).
The extreme fatigue discovered in both Oram and Zimmerman's studies are understandable because women reported working 12-14 hours a day, servicing 20-30 men a day with little time to sleep.
Though rescued women can simply regain sleep, chronic sleep deprivation permanently decreases one's ability to concentrate, fight disease, and withstand pain.
While some symptoms fade within six weeks of rescue, others may take years to fully diminish.
"I wasn't even permitted to sleep. I could eat, but only if very fast, just for a few minutes. I had no right to sleep. If I decided to go to bed, he would beat me, and throw me out onto the street" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
44% of women reported having been diagnosed and treated for an STI, though few in this particular study reported being HIV positive (Zimmerman et al., 2006). Some of these women with HIV were also pregnant, making HIV testing even more of a concern in brothels.
"I had blood tests and the results show that I am HIV positive...I cannot think about anything else, only about my disease. I think I will become crazy. And my parents do not know the truth. I am ashamed and scared to tell them...I have nightmares and cannot rest because of this. I have headaches and am thinking only about my disease. I am very depressed and scared" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Reproductive Health
"My mother forced me to have sex with strangers [when I was 11 and 12 years old]. Strangers would force and beat me" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Voices of the Trafficked
Symptoms of PTSD in Trafficked Women
Re-experiencing Traumatic Events
Avoidance & Numbing
Psychological Arousal
Recurrent thoughts/memories of terrifying events (75%).
Recurrent nightmares (54%).
Sudden emotional or physical reaction when reminded of hurtful event (65%).
Trouble sleeping.
Difficulty concentrating (52%).
Feeling jumpy or easily startled
Trouble sleeping
Difficulty concentrating (52%)
Feeling irritable/outbursts of anger
Feeling as if you don't have a future
Feeling detached/withdrawn
Unable to feel emotion
Inability to remember parts of the most traumatic or hurtful events (peritraumatic dissociation)
"It comes every time that I close my eyes...when I testified against my traffickers..and when I am at home...always in my dreams. I see myself still being taken to clients" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
"Maybe some people could call me 'dirty whore,' but for others I might be a girl who can give them good advice."
-Bulgarian woman trafficked to Germany (Zimmerman et al., 2006)
[I am c]onstantly looking over my shoulder afraid either Imani or his friends are going to come after me for putting him in jail. I don’t feel safe at home. He knows where I live and what my family looks like, and where they live …. I have nightmares about him. I have low self esteem. Feel like I’m only good for one thing, sex. I don’t see why someone, a man, would be interested in me and try to get to know me because I feel unworthy, dirty, tainted, nothing; basically lost two and a half to three years of my life being with Imani.
Going Undercover

Benjamin Perrin is a professor of law and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's lead policy adviser regarding justice and human trafficking. He has written two books on this subject, and predominantly critiques Canada's law enforcement and legislation for its failure to enforce the trafficking laws it has established, and for its lack of uniformity. There have been very few cases prosecuting sex traffickers in Canada, and their punishments, in Perrin's credible opinion, are insufficient. For example, a man in Vancouver was held in jail for one week after trafficking a 19 year old Canadian girl.
The Human Trafficking Bill, C-268, (2010) was passed by the Canadian Senate, mandating a minimum of 5-year sentence to child traffickers.
Canada itself has become a "haven" for traffickers in sex tourism because of poorly enforced justice laws and little investigation (Brock, 2010).
Operation Relaxation commenced in 2003 in response to the Future Group's attack on Canada's trafficking combat. It was investigation into the massage industry in Calgary with an undercover focus.
As part of Operation Relaxation, the Calgary RCMP used an undercover unit to investigate the massage parlour, discovering two suspects who claimed to have the power to import women from other countries to work in Calgary's massage industry (Brock, 2010).
In 2003, the RCMP found dozens of Asian women in a home, only a few blocks from Peter's Drive-In and an elementary school. They were being forced into prostitution and were confined, told they had incredible debts to pay (Brock, 2010).
Perrin stated that the truly shocking part of this discovery was that the women were being exploited in a residential area (Brock, 2010).
One of the goals of this project is to not just present information, but to understand the context and effects of trafficking on women's identities. In order to do this, quotes from a study of interviews titled "Stolen Smiles"will be distributed throughout (Zimmerman et al., 2006). It is these voices and perspectives that emphasize the severity and effects of sex trafficking.
How It Happens
Traffickers operate as businessmen within an industry. They use employees to find eligible victims, transport/smuggle them to countries of interest, house them, and sell them to interested customers (Cameron & Newman, 2008).
Some of these "businesses" are comprised of a few operators, while others appear as complex criminal networks (McCabe, 2008).
Transporting victims, often through European or Mexican airports, can involve forging documents or creating relationships with others in the criminal hierarchy.
The true key to a trafficker's success is the coercion of girls. Those who are not "sold" by their parents are often offered jobs as nannies or waitresses, generally through newspaper ads. Unsuspecting girls will willingly and appreciatively go with such traffickers with the hope of getting a job but end up being shipped out of their country and into brothels where their identification is confiscated and they become illegal immigrants (Brock, 2010).
Many women do not seek authorities though they have opportunities, because they are told they will be punished as illegal immigrants if found (McCabe, 2008).
In addition, 89% of women reported being threatened with harm to their children and families, death, increased debt, and beatings (Zimmerman et al., 2006). Of these women, 82% said threats were carried out "as promised" if the women did not comply with demands.
Effects of Gender Equality
Though purchasing sex was once entirely taboo, it is now estimated that 1 in 10 men make use of prostitution services (Baird, 2007). Most of these men are middle-aged and married.
Some suggest the increase of sex consumption is men's reaction to feminism because sex creates a sense of male domination and regains male supremacy (Baird, 2007).
Military bases are popular destinations for prostitutes because of the high consumer demand. However, once the base relocates, the prostitutes remain but without work; these women become common targets for sex trafficking.
Women in some cultures are considered emotionally weak and thus, less likely to attain professional careers or educations in some countries. Factors such as literacy, cultural norms, family obligations, family abuse, and struggles due to war may cause a woman to desire a different life, making her more vulnerable to coercive harm (Parrot & Cummings, 2008).
A lack of gender equality in some countries has created the idea that women's worth is in the money they collect. This combines with the notion created by pornography in North America that women are "expendable and replaceable" (Parrot & Cummings, 2008), to create a high demand for the psychological and physical opportunities for male domination available in the sex trade.
Most girls do not attempt escape because they are told their families will be killed if they disobey. Furthermore, many girls choose not to return to their families if they do escape due to the deep shame of prostitution in most cultures (Parrot & Cummings, 2008).
Though the pursuit of sexual services is becoming more accepted, the selling of one's body continues to be condemned in most societies because it is often considered a woman's duty to protect her body.
Questions to Answer
Main Question: What are the effects of sex trafficking on young women trafficked in Canada?
What is sex trafficking?
How does the sex trafficking industry in Canada operate?
Who is trafficked and where in Canada do they primarily reside? Who are the traffickers?
What differentiates sex trafficking from prostitution?
What are the physical and sexual effects of sex trafficking on young trafficked women in Canada?
What are the psychological effects of sex trafficking on young trafficked women in Canada?
What are the mental and emotional effects of sex trafficking on young trafficked women in Canada?
What role do social workers play within sex trafficking? What services do they provide to counteract the effects young trafficked women face?
Are these services being used by trafficking victims? If not, why not?
Are there any services for young trafficked women not currently offered that social workers should provide?
Demand for Prostitution
A less common form of human trafficking is the prostitution of mail-order brides who choose to leave their country in the hope of leaving poverty, but are promptly forced into prostitution. 4,000-6,000 girls enter the states annually as mail-order brides (McCabe, 2008).
The main tactics used to control a trafficked girl are psychological, physical, and legal coercion. These forms of abuse deprive victims of literal or mental freedom to act and pursue paid labour, compelling them to follow harmful instructions (Kim, 2011).
Trafficked women are told they have accumulated thousands of dollars in debt due to the cost of travel and food, forcing the girls to work as prostitutes until the money is returned to their traffickers (Brock, 2010).
A girl would need to service 500-600 men before the original debt is paid. However, traffickers will increase victims' debts to ensure their submission (Brock, 2010).
Most theories in favour of the legalization of prostitution have feminist roots as they promote the free will of women to pursue their own line of work and promote female sexuality (Farley, 2008).
Legalized Prostitution Statistics
After legalization in Victoria, Australia, the number of legal brothels doubled, and the number of illegal brothels increased by 300% (Farley, 2008).
This supports the idea that consumers are attracted to cheap and risky sex, rather than lawful and clean sex.
Similarly, Nevada is known as the only state with legalized prostitution, yet 80-90% of its brothels are illegal (Farley, 2008).
Sweden has approached prostitution in a different way by not prosecuting those who provide sex, but those who purchase it. Since changing its laws to punish the purchase of sex and promoting the rights of prostitutes, the number of men purchasing sex has dropped by 75% (Farley, 2008).
South Korea has also criminalized the buying and selling of sex, reducing the number of brothels by 37%.
Therefore, statistics suggest that consumers will in fact prefer obtaining cheaper sex, despite regulated and more healthy sex being available for legal purchase.
Others state that legalizing prostitution will not stop traffickers because they have already developed a fluid system of transporting and selling women in a subtle and hidden manner. Researcher Waigh declared in his article for the New Internationalist, a justice journal, that traffickers of all people have few troubles dodging laws (Waigh, 2007).
Therefore, though legalization may have good intentions, it does not appear to combat the ultimate causes of trafficking and the industry itself.
Physical Health Symptoms
Common Physical Symptoms
63% reported gastrointestinal pain (vomiting, diarrhea, constipation)
50% reported chest and/or heart pain
69% reported back pain
35% reported eye problems (pain, blurred vision).
Likely connected to headaches.
81% reported headaches.
May be due to either stress, or neck and head trauma.
63% reported memory problems
Zimmerman et al., (2006)
"You always remember what has happened to you, you are not clean anymore like you were before" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
The United Nations' 1949 Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic of Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others deemed both sex trafficking and prostitution as "incompatible" with human diginity and worth (Farley, 2008).
Rescued women are often very concerned with their reproductive health and the possibility of having a family (Zimmerman et al., 2006). This may be because the idea of having a husband and children becomes idealized and viewed as the perfect dream as it epitomizes love and safety.
Furthermore, their sexual health may be prioritized because their personal value has become largely based on their ability to perform sexually.
Studies have shown that promoting a rescued or escaped woman's sexual health will positively affect her psychological health (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
17% of women reported having at least one abortion while working as a prostitute. In addition, frequent first requests of rescued women were pregnancy tests and abortions (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Pregnancy while trafficked often resulted in beatings and less money made; therefore, though many girls want a family, few desire it to be in the context of prostitution and it is deemed detrimental to their work.
Analysis of Physical Effects
Based on statistics and personal accounts, it is apparent that the physical effects of sex trafficking on young trafficked women are very prevalent, detrimental, and can be long-lasting. Indeed, considering that women in these situations view their health as incredibly valuable and part of their identity and occupation, it is vital to credit sex trafficking as a cause for great physical detriment and must be researched accordingly. Women who have been rescued require immediate physical analysis and treatment in order to aid their physical recovery, and accordingly, their mental health. Long term care should be provided for more enduring symptoms, such as neck and head injuries and counseling should be available to specifically address the psychological effects of abortion and memory loss (whether due to memory suppression or physical trauma). The physical health of trafficked women is a serious issue that requires attention and special care when researching and treating young trafficked women.
Mental Health Symptoms
The few number of studies on trafficked women's psychological health agree with each other.
A study by Farley (2008) found that depression, anxiety, PTSD, dissociation, substance abuse, and brain injury were common among trafficked women. 89% of women in this study stated that they desperately wanted to escape.
Similarly, Zimmerman's interview study reported that 95% of women reported feeling depressed or sad, and 84-91% reported feeling nervous, fearful and tense (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Furthermore, Zimmerman also discovered that feelings of hostility were obvious in 83% of subjects.
"I am so scared for no reason. I think someone is behind my door, window. Someone will find me, pick me up, beat me and kill me. I have run off and they are looking for me. My mood changes all the time. I cannot control my mind" (Waigh, 2007).
(Zimmerman et al., 2006)
Zimmerman (2006) stated that it was not until after 90 days of treatment that a trafficked woman's levels of depression, anxiety, and hostility dropped below the top 90th percentile of an average female.
Depression Symptoms in Zimmerman's Study (2006)
Zimmerman's study found that depression was first detected in women's common reports of loneliness. Indeed, 88% of women expressed deep feelings of loneliness.
The quality of a woman's social circle and meaningful support will drastically effect her ability to cope with trauma and avoid feelings of loneliness.
Anxiety Symptoms in Zimmerman's Study (2006)
Analysis of Psychological Health
As a result of being bought and sold for sex, 78% of women in Zimmerman's interviews reported feeling worthless, dirty, and disgusting. Their sense of self and identity felt impure and lost.
Another symptom of depression was feeling of hopeless, which was reported by 76% of the women, yet their interest in activities increased over time through counseling, suggesting that hopefulness can be attained.
This study also found that 38% of trafficked women have suicidal thoughts though the number of women who fulfill such thoughts has not yet been researched (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
As previously stated, Zimmerman found that 84-91% of interviewed women said they felt nervous, fearful, or tense. Other common anxiety related emotions included: terror, panic, nervousness, and restlessness.
According to Zimmerman, feeling fearful is indeed understandable, particularly when a woman's life is in danger following her escape which, unfortunately, is not uncommon.
Many women's families are threatened prior to a woman's escape and thus, she may fear for her family's safety as well as her own.
Many women continue to receive personal threats, yet authorities provide very limited protection (Hua, 2011).
Moreover, women who were trafficked by their families may fear being abandoned or betrayed again (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Though many sex trafficking victims may not realize it, psychological effects of trafficking are more significant than physical harm because the mind adapts to life's experiences and cannot be reverted to its original state, unlike the body which is always striving to maintain a constant homeostatic state of being. Counseling and support from friends, family, and service workers can have a significant impact on a woman's psychological healing; however, the deep scars of trauma a trafficked woman experiences can not be expected to heal quickly or easily. There are currently limited protection services for escaped and rescued women which likely prevents some women from relaxing in who they are and where their lives are going. Fear of the past overcoming the present can prevent progress towards the future and accordingly, hostility, depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms will prevail both as a result of trauma, and as a way of coping with current emotions. In order to achieve psychological health, service workers must address PTSD and other symptoms and their causes, such as the false belief that they are worthless or that life is hopeless. The emotional and mental well being of trafficked women is incredibly significant because each woman deserves to experience a personal reclaiming of their identity.
The incredible courage that many of these women have serves as a testimony to the power of one's perspective and the light through which one chooses to interpret life. A positive mindset can make a significant impact on these women's psychological response to their situation. Therefore, learning to approach past experiences courageously and positively can be a valuable part of healing and accepting the pain of the past.
Eve's story of tragedy clearly demonstrates how many traffickers use their victims to gain wealth, threats to gain dominance, and the law to escape punishment.
Eve's description of her emotional dismay exemplifies symptoms of fear, depression, worthlessness, hopelessness, recurring nightmares, and linking value to sexual performance.
In Canada today, there is little awareness of human trafficking, and insufficient opposition to it, allowing men like Imani to exploit, coerce, and abuse young women.
Perrin's opportunity to use this story helped lead to the passing of C-268, and a step towards protecting and defending those who have been trafficked in Canada.
This is a short clip taken from the Canadian documentary "Enslaved and Exploited," the only documentary on sex trafficking in Canada. It was released in 2010, prior to the passing of Bill C-268, by the non-governent organization Hope for the Sold which researches and advocates for sex trafficking victims in Canada. The first six minutes of this clip are an interview of a Timea Nagy, a young woman trafficked to Canada from Hungary and also includes interviews from Benjamin Perrin.
(The complete documentary is available online if interested.)
Timea Nagy from Hungary demonstrates many of the tactics used by traffickers. For example, they threatened to harm her brother, intimidating her with the fact that they knew where he was. They increased her debt for a variety of reasons, such as being late, destroyed her forged documents, and convinced her that her illegal immigration made her a criminal.
The strength of Timea's story is in her decision to no longer hide it. She accepts that abuse effected her and then strove to help others in the same situation. What Timea describes in this clip requires incredible courage and likely many years of counseling to heal and move past the hurt of her past.
Combating Trafficking
The research that has been done on the effects of sex trafficking in young women in Canada includes numerous recommendations for handling the consequences of the sex industry.
According to McDonald's research (2000), many trafficked women did not seek services because they did not deem them necessary, likely due to a lack of education regarding mental and physical health.
Others, McDonald stated, did not use services because they did not think they were permitted to, considering they were illegal immigrants, or because they did not understand how the services operated.
Services Not Used
Role of the Social Worker
Women have asked for social services in areas of education, therapy, and drug counseling. Assistance in getting a job was especially requested among McDonald's Slavic interviewees (2000). This demonstrates that many women who are rescued or escape, truly desire to establish a traditional lifestyle and rid themselves of the habits and pain of their past.
Furthermore, as previously stated, many women requested pregnancy tests and abortion services promptly following their escape (Zimmerman et al., 2006), likely due to their focus on reproductive health.
Desired Services
Social workers and other care workers have a very significant role in helping trafficking victims cope with trauma and adjust into normal living.
Prior to Zimmerman's research published in "Stolen Smiles" (2006), very little had been done to investigate the psychological effects of sex trafficking and thus, the report made several revolutionary recommendations.
Zimmerman's report recommended that women's rights be monitored to ensure they are respected. Those who are suspected of being trafficked should be offered protection and services at the first point of contact and all inquiries should be made privately, and in the woman's own language.
It was also suggested that services specifically for these women be formed to provide healthcare, nutrition, housing, physical and psychological treatment, and education.
Working alongside NGOs to create language specific pamphlets was also promoted as a positive way to help raise awareness of traffickers' tactics, and health information .
Health service providers need to approach sex trafficking victims as long-term clients who may require different types of support. They may initially need emergency intervention care, then psychological and physical services, followed by long-term symptom control (McDonald et al., 2000).
Social workers must guard the rights of women at risk of being trafficked, are being trafficked, and who were trafficked. In order to do so, social workers can work with NGOs and international organizations (WHO, Unicef, etc.) to promote safety and health. Ensuring that women are informed and counseled in their own language will increase their sense of self-sufficiency and knowledge. NGOs can also help meet women's health needs through clinics.
Ultimately, trafficking needs to be recognized as a health issue in order to develop adequate and relevant responses, according to a study of Soviet Union women brought to Canada (McDonald et al., 2000).
McDonald suggested that service users should not be prevented from pursuing the services they need due to financial impairment.
Advocating with NGOs to promote trafficked women's legislative rights and provide them with sufficient services can have long-lasting effects, increasing the standard of living for trafficked women (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Zimmerman states that social workers can promote the rights of trafficked women by ensuring that medical testing is voluntary and conducted in accordance with health standards, respecting sexual and reproductive health desires. In addition, HIV counseling should be made available when applicable to aid a suffering . woman's understanding of the situation.
Conducting risk assessments of housing can help ensure rescued women's future safety (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
According to Hick (2010), it is the social worker's role to provide counseling, medical, and legal support to survivors of abuse. Balancing these various elements can be overwhelming and complex, considering the broad range of their components.
Hick also emphasizes the fact that social workers must consciously submit the power of decision to the trafficking survivor because in their past, all power was taken from them. The experience of making personal choices builds trust with such women and empowers them to reclaim their identity.
The services needed by trafficked women cover a broad range of disciplines, from medical to legal, because the effects of sex trafficking are often all encompassing. Social workers have unique responsibilities to protect the rights of abused women as they are influential and valuable members of society and should be treated as such. Trafficked women are often in need of medical education and awareness of services that they may pursue mental and physical health promptly. These services, nonetheless, are of no use if they are not available in the woman's language and it is service worker's role to ensure that materials and services are available in necessary languages.
The effects of sex trafficking have been insufficiently researched, and as such, many fail to recognize it as a medical issue. However, it is undeniable that sex trafficking has immense mental and physical effects and it is vital for service workers to promote the availability of services to trafficked women to fulfill their human rights, help heal their emotional wounds, and provide them with courage
Analysis of Services
Inquiry Project- Rebekah Boody
Emerging Questions
While researching for this project and compiling the data, I developed several additional questions that I would be interested to research, but was unable to because the focus of my project was the effects of sex trafficking on women. There are many other facets of this topic which would be interesting, and helpful to research in order to better understand human trafficking and how it can be stopped.
What is the most effective form of therapy/counseling for escaped trafficking victims? Is group therapy effective considering the private nature of the experiences?
How many women are recaptured after escape and forced to re-enter the sex industry due to a lack of protection?
What is the experience of families whose child has been taken from them and coerced into prostitution?
Are there fewer HIV diagnosis in Sweden due to their laws against sex consumers?
Why has Canada been so slow in responding to the crisis of sex trafficking?
What can be done in Canada to prevent illegal immigration, or to detect trafficking victims immediately that they may be rescued upon entering the country?
The effects of sex trafficking are more prevalent in Canada than many believe, yet it continues to be an overlooked issue in society because many are simply unaware of how it operates, where it operates, and exactly how devastating it is to victims. Its effects are not straight forward and convenient explanations because they burrow deep into who the woman is and how she has learned to deal with her trauma. Many issues remain guarded, but it is the role of service workers to help trafficked women heal and gradually peal back the hardened shells of protection. This inquiry project will examine the sex industry in Canada and the effects it has on its victims. When a women spends years being abused, threatened, transformed into a perception of a product, she needs to know she is valuable and loved for who she is, not for what she was trapped in.
"They told me they would cut me into pieces and send me back like that. Every single day I heard the threat 'I'll kill you bitch'" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
"I wish to forget, but this is impossible. This experience will remain an eternal burden" (Zimmerman et al., 2006).
Before researching for this project I knew very little about the sex industry in Canada but was nonetheless interested in how it operated. Since then, I have sat at my desk with tears slipping down my cheeks on several occasions as I have gradually developed a more detailed understanding of the heartbreak and injustice occurring within my own country. Women who are trafficked, regardless of their origin or destination, endure more hardship within the first few days of their travel and work than most North Americans will experience in a lifetime. And for that reason, few people can understand and fully empathize with abused and exploited women. The surprising lack of research done on the effects of trafficking in Canada demonstrates that this topic has not been a high priority for many individuals. More research and study would help raise awareness by discovering the true impact trafficking has in women's lives and in Canada as a nation.
Nonetheless, I believe that Canadians are fully able to help combat trafficking and resist its prevalence, if they will simply open their eyes to the truth and travesty of its operation in our country. Because the trafficking industry is a branched out operation, there would be many ways to inadvertently target it. For example, new legislation on pornography may help diminish the idea that prostitution is an opportunity for men to dominate women by making it less accessible. Those who are dedicated to combating the industry itself, such as Benjamin Perrin, have an incredible responsibility to represent those who cannot seek help for themselves and fight for justice. Social workers and health care workers also serve vital roles in counseling trafficked women and helping them grasp hold of their past, not hiding it, but moving past it, that they may pursue the future and not be burdened by the psychological, physical, and emotional trauma of their abuse.
The statistics and individual women's accounts of their tragic experiences has taught me to realize how complex and deep the emotional wounds of trafficking are. The women's feelings of worthlessness made me realize how easy it is for an individual to believe the lies they are told if they are heard often enough and are treated as though the lies are true. The pain such women feel makes me consider myself thankful for the freedom I have been blessed with, responsible to serve and fight for enslaved women, and amazed by the strength of those who face their past with courage, not hiding who they are but willing to share their pain in order to help others in the same situation.
Since caring for and visiting with a room full of young prostitutes in Bogota, Colombia I have felt a great desire to help abused women who feel no personal value in anything other than their ability to satisfy the cravings of their customers. The depth of their pain and the courage of their hearts deserve to be fought and cared for. Therefore, these women need to be cherished and loved, treated with justice and show that they are more precious than they have been told by their traffickers. The effects of human trafficking in Canada on young trafficked women demonstrates the devastating impact of the sex industry and the need for Canadian citizens to combat its operations and help heal the wounds of its impact, whether through legislation, counseling, financial donations, or advocacy. Social workers have great impact in this area, but everyone has the responsibility to do something.
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