Young sex trafficking victims in our care will get more help thanks to a multi-year grant from the United Nations. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Voluntary Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking in Persons recently awarded us a $60,000 grant over the next three years to support our work with young, female victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation.
The fund supports actual, on-the-ground humanitarian, legal and financial aid to victims of trafficking. It will help us to provide counselling, transitional housing and support through the legal process for those who choose to seek justice.
“We are very grateful for the financial support and for UNODC’s recognition of our work with these young victims who are in such critical need,” says our Executive Director Bruce Rivers. “As we increase our anti-trafficking efforts, we are working to do more to prevent this terrible crime and to improve victim services.”
In January, we announced plans for the city’s first transitional housing program for trafficked and exploited victims as the first step in a broader anti-trafficking plan. The community-based residential facility will offer wraparound services to victims. It is the first step in our plan to combat sex trafficking with initiatives, including crisis intervention and prevention through public awareness.
“While homeless youth are at high risk of traffickers on the street, unsuspecting young girls and young women are also being lured online, in malls and school yards,” Bruce explains.
“This is largely a domestic issue and we are now seeing dozens of sex-trafficked victims annually, most of whom are local young women.”
We estimate that as many as 1,000 of our youth are involved in some form of the sex trade annually, mostly trading sex for survival. Their desperation makes them highly vulnerable to sexual exploitation for profit.
Recently, Michele Anderson, our sex trafficking specialist who has spent more than 20 years supporting young victims, was among the recipients of the 2015 Ontario Attorney General’s Victim Services Awards of Distinction.