Young woman fights against sex trafficking during the Olympics

Previously, I have written an article, which demonstrates the aboriginal girls unprotected by the law against domestic sex trafficking in Canada. Currently, the risk of exploitation which these victims will face is expected to increase as Vancouver 2010 Olympics is approaching soon. What is worse is that because of the Canadian prime minister calling for prorogation a few weeks ago, the anti-human trafficking bill will not be enforced during the Olympics.  As a result, the traffickers, even if they get caught, can spend only a few weeks in jail for their offense, while the victims suffer the consequences for life. [1]

Yet, Canadian citizens are fighting against sex trafficking in Canada, and Shae Invidiata is one of them. She, along with other advocates and scholars, is taking initiatives is campaigning against human trafficking and raise the awareness among public for the victims’ justice.  In this interview, she shares her knowledge on the issues of human trafficking in Canada as an anti-human trafficking advocate.

How did you start getting involved in anti-human trafficking cause?

I lived in the States for 3 years  (2003-2006) in Honolulu, which is where my story begins with human trafficking. I started a ministry that reached out to the prostitutes in waikiki-women of the well- WOW – moved to Vancouver and continued but learnt more and more about Human Trafficking and what was really going on- since 2006 my heartbeat has been to fight this injustice. Since then, I partner with those to see the abolition of human trafficking, the modern slave trade.

How do you feel about that the private bill proposed by MP Joy Smith regarding human trafficking will not be enforced?

There has been quite some opposition in regards to Bill C-268; some of the opposition say that the Bill does not give a strong enough minimum, that five years is not long enough.  Another opposing view is that placing a mandatory minimum takes away the discretionary power of the judge.  I agree that a minimum of five years is too little of a sentence, and that we should at least have stronger laws than Thailand if we are not going to have laws that are comparable with the United States.  Addressing the discretionary power of a judge is a bit more complex to address in just a few words, but redirecting this back to your original questions.  I feel that Canada has really turned a blind eye to this important issue of trafficking, ESPECIALLY with the Olympics coming.  There are no other Bills that are being brought forth to consider or vote on at the moment to strengthen our legal system and protect victims of trafficking, so at least Joy Smith, even if it’s not the “best” Bill or the most “ideal” it is better than nothing—and right now, Canada has nothing.  I am disappointed in our government, and the lack urgency that should be in place to fight this horrific injustice—especially when it has involved and continues to involve hundreds of our own citizens.

Why is the Canadian government negligent towards Aboriginal sex trafficking victims?

I am not sure why our government has been so negligent towards our Aboriginal people especially on the issue of human trafficking —but to say that anytime a group of people are a minority their voices are not heard has loud as a majority.  And for the Aboriginal people, it is even worse because they are such a smaller percentage that makes up the population of Canada.

The knowledge and reality of what is happening to our Aboriginal women and children is also kept very quiet.  Although the general public has been receiving increased awareness of the injustice towards our Aboriginals over the years, there is still not enough academic support and research to back these “broadcasts” from the media (in comparison to research that has been focused on and produced in the academic circle as it relates to other issues of (social) injustice) -which could also be major reasons why the government has not given proper attention towards Aboriginal sex trafficking victims.  I truly believe that if Canadians really knew the facts about our Aboriginals, Canadians would have a firm message to Parliament.

On the national level,  does Canada benefit from sex trafficking as some other countries?

Canada is not known as a sex tourist destination like Thailand, or Germany, so the economy does not profit much in comparison to other countries.  However, because we do not have strong laws against trafficking or a clear stand point on prostitution as a nation, the “sex industry” is starting to take off in Canada like never before; which means that men who normally would travel to sex tourist destination countries are no longer needing to go very far to get paid sex.  Addressing whether that is the reason why the government is hesitant to pass the bill, it is sad to say that many politicians and public leaders are [quiet] buyers of sex, and it would not surprise me in the least if that was a driving reason for not passing this bill, along with the economic gain that Canada would profit from.

Also, as far as immigration policy, if they are having so much problem with sex trafficking because of lenient immigration policy, why do they not want to tighten the immigration policy, at least, towards some countries like China, where most organized criminals bring sex trafficking victims into Canada?

That is a great question and one that should be addressed to Parliament!  I think that one of the main reasons why Canada would not want to do that is because it would give us a “racist” or “prejudice” face, discriminating against other ethnicities by tightening up our immigration policies.  That is an ironic thought, when we would not want the world to think that we are discriminating against different people groups around the globe, and yet not only does our government discriminate against our Aboriginal communities, they neglect them.

Shae further carries her passion to fight against human trafficking in Canada through her advocacy works. Currently, she works as an event director of the campaign, “Buying Sex is Not Sport“, an anti-human trafficking initiative to raise the awareness of sex trafficking prior to the Olympics. For further information on the campaign visit R.E.E.D website.



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