Aura Freedom International applauds the Ontario government on its Human Trafficking Strategy
Press Release Toronto: July 11, 2016.
Aura Freedom International commends the Province of Ontario on their commitment to addressing human trafficking in the province with an investment of up to $72 million in a strategy aimed at increasing awareness and coordination, enhancing justice-sector initiatives and improving survivors’ access to services.
“Each and every time Aura Freedom visits a school or youth venue to talk about human trafficking, students tell us that someone they know is either being trafficked, or is trafficking others. Often, we get disclosure of human trafficking by the victim themselves and we are able to refer them to services. Considering how many schools there are in Ontario, I would say that human trafficking is a provincial emergency.” – Marissa Kokkoros, Executive Director of Aura Freedom International
We anticipate that along with implementation of the new strategy, the Government will address some of the root causes of human trafficking, including:
- Gender inequality and rape culture and their connections to the sexual exploitation of women and girls
- The hyper-sexualization of women and girls in the media and how unhealthy body images and unhealthy role models for both young men and women are contributing to the problem of gender-based violence
- Systemic racism and the marginalization of certain communities, including Indigenous youth, making them more vulnerable to human trafficking and exploitation
- Poverty (which is linked to inequalities and the marginalization of communities) and gaps in social services including housing and child services in Indigenous communities
“The constant dehumanization of women and girls in our society and in the media exacerbates gender-based violence and crimes like sex trafficking. When there is no value placed on a girl besides on her physical attributes, then it becomes easier and easier for her to be seen as a commodity, to be bought and sold like an iPhone online, to be repeatedly raped for profit. This must end. However, the solution is long term; there is no quick fix. We must actively work to deconstruct the hierarchy of power and inequalities which exist in our society– we need to address patriarchy, gender inequality and racism to see a real change. Girls and women must be viewed as powerful, dignified members of society that contribute valuable and important things to our world, and we cannot leave anyone behind. This means that we must be in it for the long haul.” – Marissa Kokkoros, Executive Director of Aura Freedom International
Aura Freedom looks forward to seeing increased prevention efforts from the Province of Ontario, including anti-trafficking, anti-violence and gender-sensitive education in school curricula that provide information on equality, tolerance, inclusion, healthy body images and healthy relationships for our young citizens, which will increase their self-esteem and confidence, making them less vulnerable to exploitation. We are also eager to see survivor-led awareness and education for parents, caregivers, teachers, Police, health officials, front line workers and others working closely with Ontario communities.
Aura Freedom is a registered Canadian charity that works to advance the human rights of women and girls in Canada and beyond.
WHAT WE FIGHT:
- Gender Inequality
- Gender-Based Violence
- Human Trafficking
HOW WE FIGHT:
- Advocacy and Awareness
- Prevention, Support and Rehabilitation
- Educational Programming
Aura Freedom launched its Human Trafficking Awareness for Canadian Youth program in 2015. Through consultations with stakeholders and regular meetings with the Toronto Counter Human Trafficking Network, of which we are an active member, the program was specifically designed for Canadian youth. Intended for students aged 12-18, it aims to educate them on the dangers and prevalence of human trafficking right here at home, as well as to equip them with the knowledge and tools they need to protect themselves and their friends. We also cover related topics like consent, rape culture, hyper-masculinity and the sexualization of females in the media, which are linked to sexual violence and exploitation. With almost every presentation, there is disclosure of trafficking or sexual violence from one or more participants. For more info on this program, visit our project page.
In Nepal, Aura Freedom has active programs addressing the prevention, liberation and rehabilitation of Nepali human trafficking victims, most of them girls, who have been trafficked to India and other Asian countries for sexual exploitation and forced labour. We have worked in South Asia since 2013 and have implemented projects targeting gender inequality and gender-based violence in a post-disaster setting in partnership with Canada’s Global Affairs.
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