We were pleased to be a community partner in supporting Sakeenah Homes first ever Human Trafficking Awareness Session on February 22nd, 2020 at the Ink’d Loft Studio in Milton, Ontario. Our executive director, Tabassum Wyne (also the Halton Ambassador for Sakeenah Homes) was the emcee for the event and shared some grim statistics to begin the session:
Human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery are big business – generating profits estimated at $150 BILLION dollars a year worldwide. Two-thirds of the profits from forced labour come from sexual exploitation.The majority of reported cases of human trafficking are in Ontario, and 98% of the victims are female. Approximately 72% of female trafficking victims are under the age of 25, and can be as young as 12 years old.
“On February 22, 2007, the House of Commons of Canada passed a motion condemning the trafficking of women and children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. Proclaiming February 22 as Human Trafficking Awareness Day helps bring awareness to the magnitude of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad and will encourage us to take steps to combat human trafficking.”
The event began with the mental health lead of Sakeenah Homes, Mariyam Zaidi, sharing details of the relation that exists between trauma and sex trafficked individuals. Healthy relationships vs unhealthy relationships signs were discussed along with case details from their experiences working at Sakeenah Homes. Many times, trafficked individuals do not recognize that they are in a unhealthy relationship due to their limited scope of what a healthy relationship looks like. Thus, it is imperative to have open communication with our children, friends and family about what a healthy relationship is.
The CEO of Sakeenah Homes, Zena Chaudhry, shared some insight of human trafficking cases they have come across in their work. She shared that the Muslim community is not immune to issues like abuse and human trafficking. Canadian Muslims are being trafficked, can be the traffickers and are also engaging in the heinous crime of purchasing trafficked individuals. This is a widespread issue in all cultures and faith groups. It’s imperative that the Muslim community learn this and become aware of what is going on in society at large.
Aura Freedom International is a women-led and survivor-centred Canadian charity that promotes the human rights of women and girls and combats inequality, gender-based violence and sexual exploitation.
They presented what human trafficking is, the role of gender, marginalized communities, healthy relationships, consent and the grooming process.
Some key items we learnt and excerpts from Aura International Freedoms presentation:
- Being a girl is still the biggest risk factor
- Traffickers prey on vulnerabilities. And we all have vulnerabilities because we’re human. Thus, it’s important to recognize the vulnerabilities within ourselves so that we do not fall victim to traffickers.
- It is important for parents to have open communication with our children
- Teach children the proper terms of their body parts from a young age in the event that abuse does occur they can inform trusted adults about it
- Allow your children to come to you with their problems or if something does not feel right to them without fear of judgement or discipline
- Be aware of who your child is interacting with on social media. Traffickers are increasingly using the internet to find, lure and recruit
- Hyper-masculinity & the connection with violence. Society’s constructed idea of masculinity doesn’t give way for young boys to feel secure in their masculinity. Let’s work to change the narrative with the men in our lives that being kind does not mean they’re weak. Sons, brothers, husbands all need to learn this.
- Indigenous communities are especially targeted by human traffickers
- Traffickers are getting younger and so are the victims
- In most cases, the trafficker will be someone you know, in some cases, they may even be family
- Sex buyers are not only older men, but can also be fellow students and they are arranging transactions during school time
We at the Muslim Advisory Council of Canada applaud Sakeenah Homes for bringing light to the Human Trafficking issue in society from a Muslim organizations perspective. We were pleased to be a community partner at this awareness session for the Halton community and encourage anyone that is being trafficked or knows someone being trafficked to reach out for help. You are not alone and help is available.
Aura Freedom International:
Government of Canada on Human Trafficking:
Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline: