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Human trafficking is a global and multi-faceted phenomenon. This modern form of slavery is characterized by the exploitation of women, men and children who are deprived of liberty. The United Nations has stated that human trafficking is tied with illegal arms sales as the second largest criminal activity in the world.
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between human trafficking and human smuggling. The major difference involves matters of exploitation.
Human smuggling is a form of illegal migration involving the organized transport of persons across an international border, usually in exchange for a sum of money, and sometimes involving dangerous conditions. The relationship between the smuggler and the person being smuggled is a voluntary business transaction, which usually ends when the client reaches the intended destination. The financial component of a human smuggling transaction may be a one-time fee paid to the smuggler before arrival or instalment payments after arrival.
Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people through force, coercion, threat, fraud or deception and may include acts generally defined as human rights abuses. Victims may be forced into labour, prostitution or some other form of servitude. The relationship between trafficker and victim does not end upon arrival at destination, as the victim may be subjected to debt bondage (forced labour to pay off a debt). Unlike human smuggling, human trafficking occurs both across international borders and within national boundaries.
International Human Trafficking involves someone who, in the process of being trafficked, crosses an international border. Although it may include an element of human smuggling, internationally trafficked persons do not necessarily enter a country clandestinely or illegally. They may enter with a valid passport, visa or working papers.
While human trafficking is usually associated with migrant victims being trafficked into Canada, it may also be a purely domestic phenomenon occurring wholly within Canada. Vulnerable, economically challenged and socially dislocated sectors of the Canadian population represent a potential pool of trafficking victims. This includes teenage runaways, as well as those who may be lured to urban centres or who migrate there voluntarily.
The victims may:
The victims may:
If you or someone you know is being exploited, contact your local police.
If you wish to report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).