Ontario legal changes could help change trafficked victims’ lives: Covenant House
TORONTO, Feb. 27, 2017 – The Ontario government’s proposal to make it easier for victims to sue their sex traffickers is an important step towards helping them reclaim their lives, according to Bruce Rivers, Covenant House executive director.
The province’s proposal to fast-track civil court cases, making it more likely victims could win compensation, is a welcome move that the agency has supported for some time, Rivers said. Covenant House is among the few in Canada offering comprehensive hands-on support to sex trafficking victims.
“We see the terrible impact sex trafficking has on young victims every day,” Rivers said. ”But we also have some positive outcomes, like that of one former resident who was able to invest the compensation she received towards her education and become a nurse. We hope this kind of positive result will now happen more often.”
Sex trafficking, the most common type of human trafficking in Canada, is a growing public issue and is a largely domestic crime. Some 90 percent of victims are female and most are Canadian girls as young as 13, and on average 17.
Covenant House saw the number of its cases of trafficking and sexual exploitation increase more than 40 percent last year to 64.
While homeless youth are at a high risk of being trafficked, Rivers explained, unsuspecting young women and girls are also being lured from malls, school yards and online.
The agency is implementing a comprehensive anti-trafficking plan that includes measures ranging from prevention to enhanced victim services, including its transitional housing program, as well as a research and evaluation component.
Covenant House Toronto is Canada’s largest agency for at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth. It provides the widest range of services under one roof to as many as 250 young people every day.
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