Big sporting events such as the Olympics and the World Cup soccer tournament are known to generate an increase in prostitution, which in turn leads to a rise in human trafficking.
A recent report by the Calgary-based The Future Group, an anti-human trafficking NGO, said that during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, authorities implemented a wide range of actions to combat human trafficking during the event, with relative success.
The result was that, while there was an increase in prostitution, authorities did not detect a rise in human trafficking.
However, when Greece hosted the Olympics in 2004, the measures adopted were not as extensive as those in Germany, and a 95 percent increase in human trafficking was recorded for that year.
Human trafficking—the biggest money spinner for organized crime after drugs and firearms—has been steadily increasing in Canada and around the world.
Canada is apparently particularly bad for human trafficking, as is Vancouver:
Sabrina Sullivan, managing director of The Future Group, says the number of people being trafficked to or through Canada each year could be as high as 16,000.
In the international human trafficking trade, Canada serves as a destination country and a transit country. It is a source country as well, with Aboriginal women, mainly from Winnipeg or rural areas, being the most likely victims.
"Women from reserves are even being taken away and trafficked, either within the country or across borders," says Sullivan.
Globally and nationally, the majority of those trafficked are women and children, including boys, and many are forced into the sex trade. It is estimated that up to four million are sold world-wide into prostitution, slavery or marriage.
Vancouver was singled out in the U.S. State Department's 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report as being a destination city for trafficked persons from Asia. The report also stated that a "significant number" of victims, particularly South Korean females, transit Canada before being trafficked into the United States.
So what do we do about it? NOW's NYC chapter is currently tackingly this problem and is doing so with great energy and sophistication. They might make a good model for action in Vancouver:
Launched in the Fall of 2006, NOW-NYC's human trafficking campaign set out to get a state law that recognized trafficking as a crime, increase public education on this modern-day slavery, collect trafficking victims stories, access how state agencies are identifying, tracking and prioritizing this issue, and shed light on how the trafficking industry is a part of the local economy and identify the legitimate businesses that do business with traffickers.
It won’t be easy. Much like the Domestic Violence movement 25 years ago when this phenomenon didn’t have a name, much less cultural understanding, it will take the dedicated work of activists and the NOW-NYC team to raise awareness and convince legislator, law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts, this issue deserves to be a priority for civil rights.