In 2013, the UN General Assembly officially designated July 30 as the World Day against Trafficking in Persons to raise awareness about human trafficking and to promote and protect the rights of victims.
While human trafficking is recognized as a worldwide issue, it also hits hard at home – right here in Ontario. Ontario remains a major centre for human trafficking in Canada for both sexual exploitation and forced labour. Just recently, four Barrie residents were charged in a labour human trafficking investigation that included 43 victims.
Although human trafficking remains largely underreported, it is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls. According to the United Nations, the vast majority of victims trafficked for sexual exploitation and 35 per cent of those trafficked for forced labour are female.
“We must work to break the cycle of violence against women and girls,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “Human trafficking is a real threat, and it’s happening in our very own communities.
“In order to end human trafficking, we must first be willing to talk about it openly and honestly,” said Thomas. “This is a fundamental human rights issue and it warrants our attention and action.”
This year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) is asking the global community to call their governments to action in the interest of victims of trafficking.
“As a social justice union, we must continue the fight to end violence and exploitation in all its forms,” said OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “There is so much more that our governments must do, and that’s why OPSEU supports the UNODC’s 2019 call to action.”