Modern-day slavery exists. Just ask Tasha. Tasha used to live in northern British Columbia. As a teenager, she realized that her older brother was a drug runner with an addiction. When she was 15, he moved out and told her he wanted to get clean. He
phoned her three years later and asked her to come live with him in North Vancouver. He said he was lonely and that he could get her a job. It was the year she graduated from high school.
When Tasha moved in with her brother, she quickly realized he was still using drugs. One night some men broke into their home, beat up her brother and made him watch as
they raped her. A few weeks later, her brother took her to a party where he ended up getting drunk and high and then forced her to have sex with two men to pay for the drugs he had used. On the way home, he cried and apologized, but later he threatened her, saying he would turn her over to them if she told anyone or left. Five more times, men came over to drop off dope to her brother, raping her for payments.
After five months, she left her brother. She moved and applied to work for a Christian organization and got a job tutoring children. But men continued to show up at her place
saying, “It’s time to pay big brother’s tab.” They threatened to kill her if she refused to let them in. It was usually the same three men who came in and raped her.
Finally, someone noticed Tasha often had black eyes or bruises, and she was offered a safe place to go. But before she left, she returned to her brother’s house to tell him she was finished paying his drug debts. At one point, her brother trafficked her to a house in North Vancouver, where she was held captive. She escaped when she was trusted to drop off some cocaine for one of the men. Today, Tasha is living in a safe house and trying
to gain the courage to tell the police who the men are that raped her—and about the brother who sold her.
Human trafficking is slavery: people are bought and sold for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Most victims of human sexual trafficking are women and children who lose their dignity and their bodies to fuel the demand for commercial sex. Human sex trafficking is a $10-billion-a-year business that sees vulnerable people traded across
cities, provinces and countries.
Victims of human sex trafficking are not just found in the brothels of India or the streets of Thailand. It happens in Canada, with women being imported into the country, but also
with Canadians like Tasha, who are preyed upon and exploited, often by family members or trusted friends.
No one knows for sure how many people are trafficked in Canada each year, but the numbers are expected to increase in 2010 with the Winter Olympics’ influx of international visitors. “Vancouver already has a problem with sex trafficking, and you see
young women from aboriginal communities as well as other Canadian cities and towns on the streets,” explains Major Winn Blackman, divisional secretary for women’s
ministries for The Salvation Army in British Columbia. “We fear that even more women will be brought into Vancouver and exploited leading up to and during the Olympics.”
The Salvation Army is working with other like-minded churches and organizations to prevent human sex trafficking by promoting awareness about the issue. The Army is also committed to befriending, protecting and serving those who have been trafficked.
God did not intend for human beings to be treated as merchandise. Join The Salvation Army in taking a stand against human sex trafficking, and for human dignity and respect.