Let’s take a look at what’s real and what’s not.
Let’s take a look at what’s real and what’s not.
We know exactly how many children are sexually exploited and trafficked.
FALSE. Unfortunately, the numbers are hard to calculate. Since the sexual exploitation of children is underground and hidden behind screens, we don’t know the exact numbers. What’s more, victims don’t report out of fear. Still, all major organizations involved in abolishing the sexual exploitation of children note numbers reaching well into the millions, meaning that we have no choice but to act now.
This kind of thing doesn’t happen in Canada.
FALSE. The sexual exploitation of children and child sex trafficking happens all over Canada and right in front of us- in malls, online, out of foster homes, in school parking lots, in coffee shops, in the house on the street not far from you; but also along highways, in motels, bars, restaurants, massage parlours and strip clubs. In Canada, 1 in 4 sex trafficking victims are under the age of 18.
The primary group of people who are sexually trafficked in Canada are Canadians.
TRUE. In Canada, 93% of sex trafficking victims are from Canada, not other countries. The majority of those people are under age 24.
Children lured or forced into sexual exploitation are troubled kids or criminals.
FALSE. They’re children like yours and mine. While some children come from dysfunctional homes and difficult backgrounds filled with physical, verbal, and sexual abuse; predators only look for vulnerability – even the slightest vulnerability – and they exploit it. They promise love, belonging, recognition, fame and fortune. Traffickers say that they understand the misunderstood, will pretend to love those who feel unloved and fake friendship in the beginning to gain trust and then to manipulate.
Pimps are all street thugs.
FALSE. Pimps, known in “the game” as “managers”, are commonly every day looking guys and sometimes women – articulate, savvy and on the surface, friendly. They’re mostly the very people who look like and are our neighbours, colleagues and sadly, friends and family. Most have no criminal records. They have all of the latest devices and social media connections to remain portable, on the go and in touch with clients in an instant.
"She could have just left."
FALSE. Traffickers exploit vulnerabilities daily if not hourly so that a victim becomes entirely dependent on them for food, shelter, money, drugs, hygiene, sleep, love, belonging, family, and friendship. They sell a dream of being together, being a family, being a wife and the only one. They give their victims a little taste of that dream so that they’re hooked.
What’s more, traffickers often remind victims that they’ll not be welcomed back by their families; and victims feel shame and guilt. These are called chains of attachment or trauma bonds.
Only men buy sex from children. Only men and boys are traffickers/pimps.
FALSE. While the majority of buyers of sex with children are men, women are also buyers and perpetrators. According to a study published by ECPAT and INTERPOL on child sexual abuse material/child sexual exploitation material, where male and females offended together, the male offenders largely assumed the role of recorder, while the female offender was actively involved in the abuse of children.
Traffickers and pimps can also be women, out of their own volition or because they are forced. Older girls are shamelessly used as lures to entice other girls. They sell “friendship”, “belonging to a cool new group”, “making money for things your parents won’t get you”, “hanging out with older boys”, “being able to go to clubs and bars”, “being able to make a lot of money” and “being able to travel”. These girls/women will offer, at first, mentorship, guidance and understanding.
They’re trying their best to survive and often times the choice to become the abuser far outweighs the beatings, starvation or worse. Their abusers have established trauma bonds with them and these girls/women adopt the mindset that it is better to be the abuser than the abused.
The people who purchase children for sex are all paedophiles.
FALSE. Not all of them. Paedophilia is the condition of being sexually attracted to young children who haven’t gone through puberty yet. While rings of paedophiles exists, painting all child sex perpetrators as paedophiles masks the fact that even “regular” people in our communities also buy sex from children.
The sexual exploitation of children affects boys, too.
TRUE. Around the world, 31% of purchased children are boys. According to the Counter Trafficking Data Collective, between the ages of 0-8, child sex trafficking rates are close to equal among girls and boys. What’s more, male victims make up the higher proportion of victims trafficked for online sexual exploitation material and private sexual services. In fact, according to research on online sexual exploitation of children by ECPAT and INTERPOL, when online images or videos of child sexual abuse depict boys, the abuse is more likely to be severe.
Boys are especially vulnerable and less likely to seek help because there’s a greater sense of shame, they believe their manhood is diminished, they fear being seen as homosexual, or they’re from a more religious background and feel that they’ve gone against their religious beliefs.
Traffickers/pimps are also saavy, and look out for boys that they can groom to join “the game”. The life for both boys and girls is a very dangerous game, filled with brainwashing, physical abuse, complete loss of power, disease, and a criminal record. It’s not fast money, big houses and nice cars, but a false promise and a pipe dream.
Sex trafficking involves an individual being moved.
FALSE. Smuggling involves the movement of an individual from one area to another, voluntarily or not. However trafficking is always involuntary and does not require an individual to move or leave their home/province/country at all. There have been cases in Canada where a child has been trafficked while still living in their parents’ house and without the parents’ knowledge.