Trafficking a problem here, say experts

Last year in Gatineau, police charged a woman with human trafficking.

While most people are aware of trafficking in other parts of the world, some would be surprised that it’s not unheard of in the National Capital Region.

“The most common kind of trafficking we hear about in North America is trafficking into the sex trade,” said Sheila Smith, director of support services for Persons Against the Crime of Trafficking in Humans (PACT) Ottawa.

While sexual slavery is one of the most lucrative forms of organized crime in the world — “People can be sold over and over again as opposed to drugs or arms, which can be sold once,” Smith said — there are other forms.

“It can happen in construction or farming or domestic help,” Smith said. “It’s a very hidden reality. It happens in Canada and can even happen here in Ottawa.”

To mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, PACT Ottawa is hosting its third annual End Slavery Event at the Bronson Centre Wednesday.

“Many people don’t know the wide scope of human trafficking,” said Smith.

“Many people don’t know that there are 700,000 to four million people trafficked in the world.”

About 75 to 80 per cent of trafficked persons are women and children, Smith said.

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