Agency working with sex-trafficked victims
welcomes proposed tougher laws
TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2017 – The federal government’s proposed legal changes that could make it easier to gain sex trafficking convictions are a positive step in combating this horrific crime, Covenant House Toronto Executive Director Bruce Rivers says.
Rivers heads up the agency which is among the few in Canada offering hands-on support to sex trafficking victims. He welcomed the proposed legislation that would help prosecutors prove a key element of trafficking -- that the accused exercised control or influence over the movements of a victim -- by proving that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of the victim. This would reduce the likelihood that victims would have to testify in court.
“We see the devastating impact sex trafficking has on the young victims, who have suffered unspeakable horrors,” Rivers said. “Every effort that can do more to bring these predators to justice and help spare victims from additional trauma is vital.”
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. For those seeking justice, specialized agency staff support victims through the often lengthy and arduous legal process.
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 changes the lives of at-risk, homeless and trafficked youth. As the country’s largest homeless youth agency, it provides the widest range of services under one roof to as many as 250 young people every day.
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