Social Isolation and Sex Trafficking

Written by: Jennifer Brennan, Executive Director, Samuel Family Foundation

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With the government set to announce an inquiry into the disproportionate rate of violence against Indigenous women in Canada, it is important to take the time to also highlight the vulnerability that many women face across the country.

One aspect, often not addressed, are the root causes of vulnerability. Existing studies point to a range of factors including racism and poverty. Yet we are also beginning to understand the role that social isolation plays for both the individual and the community. Social isolation that can and does affect women from diverse circumstances and situations.

The #ShesNotForSale campaign has committed to bringing awareness to the issue of sexual exploitation and trafficking in Canada. There has been a common misconception that suggests sex trafficking is an international issue; however, research has noted that 93% of Canada’s sex trafficking victims are Canadian – making sex trafficking a very real domestic issue.

As was noted in the article, Eliminating Violence Against Women Through Social Connection Indigenous women in Canada are particularly vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation. In October 2014, the Native Women’s Association of Canada released a research report, Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls, which clearly outlined the overrepresentation of “Aboriginal women and girls in sexual exploitation and trafficking in comparison to the general population”.

The shocking reality of sex trafficking in Canada is also highlighted in a recent article published by Huffington Post titled, “Sex Traffickers Stole Our Daughter Away From Us”. The article is a heartfelt letter from parents who had their daughter become a victim (and survivor) of sex trafficking. Through their story they demonstrate the clear connection between isolation and vulnerability to sexual exploitation.

Bringing awareness to these issues while simultaneously ensuring women have support systems in place is essential to reduce their vulnerability, to address the isolation they feel and to create opportunities to build connections creating safety and security.