In 2019, DentalPeers was hosting its annual (until Covid came along!) Golden Girls of Dentistry cruise for some of the most prominent North American names in dental consulting. During this cruise, casual conversations allowed us to discover the efforts some of these wonderful women were involved in to help young women who were the victims of sex trafficking in their local communities.
It was then that I realized DentalPeers and the Golden Girls of Dentistry had to lend their collective voices to combatting this significant issue. I am beyond pleased that the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has agreed to allow us to support its efforts to raise awareness of the prevalence of human trafficking and how we can take a stand against…while making sure the victims of this tragedy feel understood and supported.
Human trafficking is a crime that robs survivors of their freedom and dignity. In Canada, human trafficking typically takes two mains forms, trafficking for the purpose of forced labour or for forced commercial sexual exploitation. Human trafficking should not be confused with human smuggling, which is the act of transporting someone with their consent over an international border. Human trafficking on the other hand, does not require movement and the victim does not consent to the trafficking activity. The commonly held misconception that this happens outside of Canada still persists.
According to Statistics Canada, there have been 1,708 police reported incidents of human trafficking since 2009. Police in Canada also report that 97% of human trafficking victims identify as female, while 3 in 10 are under the age of 18. This is a home-grown human rights issue that continues to flourish in our communities because it is so often ‘hidden in plain sight’. Education and awareness amongst community members, families, educators, professionals and businesses, like those in the dental health and hygiene industry, is the first step to ensuring we are safeguarding against this crime.
The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking is a national charitable organization dedicated to ending all forms of trafficking in Canada. We do this through strategic engagement with governments, private sector businesses, survivors of trafficking, civil society, non-governmental organizations and police. As a national leader of the issue of trafficking we seek to educate the Canadian public about the reality of this crime, we advocate for stronger protections and resources to support survivors of trafficking and we aim to reduce duplication of efforts and enhance collaboration across the anti-trafficking field. As the operator of The Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline (1 -833-900-1010) the Centre is able to connect callers from anywhere in Canada to localized services and supports and provide information and resources.
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