What is human trafficking?

The United Nations Protocol

The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also called the Palermo Protocol):

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.”

Who are the traffickers?

  • Organized crime groups
  • Decentralized criminal groups
  • Small family criminal groups
  • Independent individuals (pimps: it has been estimated that one girl can make an average of $250,000 a year for a pimp)

Where traffickers find girls…

  • Online (Facebook, Twitter, Dating Sites, other social media sites)
  • Recreation Centers, Parks, Malls, the Beach
  • 24 hr restaurants/ coffee shops
  • Through friends (acquaintances or relatives)
  • Hair/Nail/Tanning Salons
  • Exotic Dance Clubs
  • Libraries
  • Amusements Parks
  • Laundromats
  • Public transit terminals
  • Hotel Parties
  • Schools/colleges/universities
  • Shelters and group homes
  • Motels, Condos, Apartment building

Elements of Human Trafficking (from www.unodc.org)

Act:  what is done?     Means:  how is it done?     Purpose:  why is it done?

human trafficking

Vulnerable Populations:

  • Marginalized women and children
  • Ethnic minorities
  • Indigenous people
  • Refugees and illegal migrants
  • Illiterate women, run-away girls

Where do victims work?

Forced Labour

  • Migrant farms
  • Factories
  • Restaurants
  • Nail salons, beauty spas
  • Construction sites
  • Houses (nanny, etc.)
  • Factories

Sex Trade

  • Brothels
  • Hotels/Motels/Condos
  • Massage Places
  • Strip Clubs
  • Hidden Apartments
  • Basements

Four Aspects of Trafficking

  • Recruitment:  lured by false promises, deceived by working conditions, or enticed through newspaper, magazine or internet
  • Movement/Transportation:  to a new, unfamiliar city, or province, or even new location within the city
  • Coercion/Control:  the use or threat of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or payment to others in control of the victim.
  • Exploitation:  for the purpose of sexual exploitation: servitude, slavery or practices similar to slavery.

Trafficked Lifestyle

  • Working 18-20 hours a day
  • Sleeping 4-5 hours a night
  • Eating minimal food – often one meal a day
  • Not allowed to call home, or to speak freely with family
  • Not allowed to leave “residence”
  • Not allowed to talk to anyone
  • Not allowed to ask questions
  • Must turn all money in to trafficker, and often must make a quota a day ($500-$1500)
  • Must work regardless of sickness
  • Can’t call for help, even police

Human Trafficking Resources 


1. Organizations (International)

  • Not for Sale – Not for Sale started in San Francisco in 2006 as an abolitionist movement. It reaches out to survivors of human trafficking by mapping and documenting situations around the world and supporting projects abroad to help those in bondage.
  • International Justice Mission, Canada  -IJM is a human rights agency that assists in rescuing and caring for victims of slavery, sexual exploitation, and other forms of violent oppression in developing countries. IJM staffers also work with local officials to prosecute perpetrators and to promote functioning justice systems.
  • World Vision  -World Vision is a Christian relief, development, and advocacy organization that works with children, families, and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. They try to prevent and mitigate the effects of human trafficking through awareness, education, victim care, and advocating for change both in Canada and abroad.
  • Shared Hope International  -Shared Hope International works to prevent, rescue, and restore victims of sex trafficking by raising awareness, empowering communities, and developing holistic restoration facilities. They have compiled several key reports on the international and domestic exploitation of women and children.
  • The Ratanak Foundation -The Ratanak Foundation has worked exclusively in Cambodia since 1990 and focuses on the secure aftercare, rehabilitation, and social reintegration of trafficked children rescued from brothels.

2.  Organizations (National)

  • Canadian Council of Churches – A Leadership and Learning Kit is available for churches!  This resource facilitates learning, theological reflection, and common action on human trafficking in Canada through a series of reflections, awareness raising exercises, bible studies, and background materials.
  • Canadian Council for Refugees  -The Canadian Council for Refugees is a national non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees and other vulnerable migrants in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) supports and coordinates anti-trafficking efforts.
  • The Salvation Army  -The Salvation Army is one of the largest non-governmental direct provider of social services in the country, supporting more than four hundred communities across Canada. In 2004, they created an anti-trafficking network that seeks to raise awareness of sex trafficking and empower people to do something about it. They have established the only recovery center for trafficked women in Canada, Deborah’s Gate, located in Vancouver.
  • Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers  -A group of sexual assault centers that have come together to implement the legal, social, and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent, and ultimately eradicate, rape and sexual assault.
  • Stop the Traffik  -Activities include lobbying, and supplying information to government and police organizations, organizing awareness events, and providing an internet information service about current events surrounding trafficking.
  • Beyond Borders  -This is the Canadian affiliate of ECPAT International, a global network which works to raise awareness, advocate for improved legislation, monitor court cases, and promote effective prevention and protection strategies.


  • Sex Trade 101  -Offering training on all aspects of the sex trade and trafficking in Canada, and telling the facts and true stories about the trade from women with lived experience.
  • FCJ Refugee Center  -Since 1991, the FCJ Refugee center has offered shelter to over a thousand women and their children, and provides counselling, advocacy and support services to uprooted persons.
  • free-them  -free-them is a Toronto based  organization opposing human trafficking through advocacy and awareness raising. They stage awareness-building events, including the yearly free-them Walk, and they speak to the public and to school groups about the reality of trafficking.

Books and Reports

  • Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. Benjamin Perrin, Penguin Group Canada, (Toronto, ON) October 2010.
  • Human Trafficking in Canada – Project SECLUSION. RCMP Criminal Intelligence & Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre, (Ottawa, ON) September 2010.
  • Hidden Abuse – Hidden Crime. RCMP Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, (Ottawa, ON) June 2010.
  • 2010 Trafficking in Persons Report. Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, U.S. Department of State, (Washington, DC) June 2010.
  • Memoirs of a Sex Slave Survivor. Timea E. Nagy, Communication Dynamics Publishing, (Toronto, ON) April 2010.
  • Comprehensive Legal Approaches to Combating Trafficking in Persons: an International and Comparative Perspective. The Protection Project, John Hopkins University, (Washington DC) 2009.
  • Combating Human Trafficking in Persons (A Handbook for Parliamentarians). United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009.
  • Turning Outrage Into Action To Address Trafficking For The Purpose of Sexual Exploitation In Canada. Tabled by the Standing Committee on Status of Women in the House of Commons, (Ottawa, ON) February 2007.




  • Not a Love Story
  • Human Trafficking
  • Red Light Green Light
  • Trade of Innocents
  • Trade
  • Lilya-4-ever
  • PolarisProject – has   recommendations for 50 movies about Human Trafficking that you can watch, included are summaries of what the movie depicts.

How You Can Help

Pray and get others praying (for trafficked persons, people vulnerable to being trafficked, traffickers and consumers in the commercial sex industry, supportive families and churches for trafficked persons, government leaders, the Church and all those fighting trafficking).

Learn more, and become more informed about the issue.  Look at websites, read books or articles or watch documentaries. If you’re a student, use this topic for a research project for school.  If you are a teacher or youth group leader, inform students about human trafficking.

Talk about this issue with your friends, church, family, neighbours and co-workers.

Host a movie and discussion night. Watch a documentary or rent a movie such as Human Trafficking or Taken and then discuss the movie after your viewing.  Some movies will give you insight into how traffickers operate and how it must feel to be trafficked or to have one of your family members trafficked. These movies are not suitable for children.

Write to your Member of Parliament, voicing your concern about human sex trafficking. Type the letter if possible, and don’t forget to add the date, your MP’s name and address, as well as your name, address and contact phone number/ email address. To find out who your Member of Parliament is, click here and enter your postal code. Make sure to address your MP properly (for example, you may need to use the title “honourable”). Click here for tips. All letters to MPs can be sent to the following address:  MP’s Name, House of Commons, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6 and do not require postage. If possible, make a connection between sexual trafficking and your own neighbourhood or constituency. Once you have become informed about human trafficking, call your MP and make an appointment to visit him/her, and encourage others in your family or church to connect with their MPs as well.

Organize an awareness event to share information with your church, community, school, friends, youth group, etc., about human trafficking. This could be a booth at a community event, a concert or speaker event or an evening of sharing at your home over dinner. Be creative!

Support Fair Trade initiatives that give people in developing countries choices.  Sacrifice the extra bit of money to make sure that products are Fair Trade-certified. It can make a big difference in people’s lives. (To learn more, download a Fair Trade Bible study.)

Speak out against sexism/gender inequalities that come up in everyday life.  Share your views in a local newspaper.

Avoid pornography in all of its forms.

Mentor a young person, modeling righteous living and showing a healthy, positive form of relationship.

Volunteer your time with a local anti-human trafficking organization.

Be on the lookout for those who may have been trafficked and report any suspected cases immediately to the authorities.