Last week, police services across Canada participated in a two-day operation focusing on the growing concern that women and youth are being forced to participate in the sex trade.
Operation Northern Spotlight involved over 30 police services on January 22 and 23, 2014 and was centered around hotels and motels on major thoroughfares in 30 cities and towns across the country. Over 330 women, some as young as 15 years of age, were interviewed. Police found some were being forced to perform sexual acts, multiple times a day, for paying male customers.
Although the Criminal Code section refers to this activity as “Human Trafficking,” the public may better understand this issue as “sex slavery.” Although many of the women appear to be making their own decisions to participate for financial gain, investigators found several women and youths were being forced to perform sex acts through threats of violence, physical intimidation, drug dependency and other forms of coercion. Part, or all, of the proceeds from the sexual encounters were kept by their adult male controller or pimp.
Police Services will continue to monitor any incidents of “forced participation” in hopes of assisting any woman involved in the sex trade business against her will.
The police services participating were:
Barrie PS; Brockville PS; Cornwall PS; Durham Regional PS; Halton Regional PS; Kingston PS; London PS; Niagara Regional PS; Ontario Provincial Police; Ottawa PS; Peel Regional PS; RCMP; Greater Sudbury PS; Thunder Bay PS; Waterloo Regional PS; Windsor PS; York Regional PS.
Calgary PS Alta; Edmonton PS Alta; Regina PS Sask; Saskatoon PS Sask; Winnipeg PS Man.
Gatineau PS, Que; Halifax Regional PS and HAlifax District RCMP, NS; Saint John’s RNC, NFLD; Saint John PS, NB.
Clients are made aware of the girls through various websites and often call or text a cell phone number to arrange the liaisons at local hotels and motels. In Halifax, the HRP/RCMP Integrated Vice Unit interviewed eight women aged 15-40. Investigators believe that some of these women and youths were, or had been, under some level of control. They were offered support services, and mental/emotional supports, in the hope that they will consider other options.
The Integrated Vice Unit remains committed to helping all victims and connecting them with community resources to support them.
If you have information about any young person being coerced into the sex trade, please contact the Halifax Regional Police, RCMP or Nova Scotia Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIP202 + your message to 'CRIMES' (274637) or by Secure Web Tips at www.crimestoppers.ns.ca. Calls to Crime Stoppers are not taped or traced and if police make an arrest and lay charges based on a tip, callers qualify for a cash reward from $50 - $2,000.
Human Trafficking and Victim Resources available in Halifax Regional Municipality
Halifax Regional Police
Non-Emergency: (902) 490-5020
Halifax Regional Police Victim Services
Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team
Kids Help Line
Avalon Sexual Assault Centre
(902) 425-0122 / (902) 420-4240