Human trafficking is happening at large not only at the US – Canada border but also in Waterloo. Unfortunately, more than 69 percent of human trafficking takes place in the province of Ontario. Nicky Carswell, who works with Sexual Assault Support Centre, human trafficking is a domestic issue and not what we see in the movies, about people being caged and transported across the border.
Carswell said that the human trafficking is happening the most along the QEW and Highway 401 because these two regions have a lot of hotels and motels. Since the Waterloo is very close to Highway 401, it is quite vulnerable to human trafficking. Carswell explained the phenomenon as the “boyfriend effect.” Men get in the contact with these women and show them love and affection. They gain their trust and tell the women to do things they aren’t comfortable doing. But because they are in a relationship, they do things out of love. Most women don’t even realize that they are stuck in the human trafficking racket.
Sexual Assault Support Centre has started an all-round service for women 14 years and older. The person’s immigration status won’t matter if they are eligible for the service or not. Carswell said that the program wants to hug out people with as many services as possible literally. Different services offered under the program include legal help, counseling, safety planning, and help in finding accommodation. These services are available for those who have gone through the experience, are currently experiencing it, or vulnerable to human trafficking.
The service is completely free and confidential. After learning about the program, many people have come to Carswell, but she is not amazed by the number. Carswell said that she isn’t surprised that there were so many because she expected the number to be so high.