Sarah L. Meyers
The Joy Smith Foundation will provide a necessary and invaluable opportunity for victims of human trafficking. My own story ends favourably; however, it is rarely so for most girls and women who've fallen victims to this criminal network which spans across all continents. This is a crime which is tremendously profitable, and often enabled to continue due to a lack of societal awareness and the laws necessary to discourage and prevent its continuance.

I was an educated teenager from an upper-middle class family when I was taken. A reputable job network was infiltrated by men who claimed to offer legitimate work as was routinely available to members of this community. While they mimicked legitimacy, their intentions were slavery. Coercing and manipulating women and young girls into prostitution and into being rotational pawns for the porn industry was their way of life. Their clients want beautiful, innocent and inexperienced young women. The pressure to thrive in one of the leading criminal industries encourages them to take girls and women from our own neighbourhoods. Measures to dissuade this network from continuing are not in place. Currently, they hold the power.

Before ever becoming a woman, I was forced into a reality of being violently raped or forced to play a role to fulfill the fantasy of someone whose mental health is questionable. In order to increase profits, women and girls are exposed to several men a day. For a trafficked person, it is made clear from the beginning that the risk of not obeying is greater than the risk of being sold for sex. This is why escaping is nearly impossible.

In my own case, I had become physically impaired and no longer of use. I was discarded before contracting an STD, being physically harmed to a greater extent, or sold to another network. Today, I am a mother and am free to pursue a myriad of endeavours. Many who have been trafficked lose their freedoms and, if they survive, few return ever truly feeling free.

The only way to stand against this industry is to strengthen their prey. That can be achieved through the creation of laws, and resources aimed to protect victims, or services that allow Canadian women to rebuild their lives and assist law enforcement with pertinent information. Every action helps, while every inaction allows human trafficking to expand into our own backyards. Having personally seen how human trafficking operates, society is educated very little compared to the wide scope of what does occur every day in our own country and abroad.