Karla MacFarlane, Progressive Conservative critic for Status of Women, hopes a conference on human trafficking held in Pictou County today will shine a spotlight on this important issue and prompt government action.
MacFarlane, who will attend the conference, has been raising the issue of human trafficking with the Liberals for over a year. As it stands today, the RCMP have reported that cases of human trafficking are on the rise in Nova Scotia.
“Trafficking cases are in the news more and more these days. Although, the problem isn’t new, the action is slow. The government has a responsibility to add more resources and work with stakeholders and interest groups,” says MacFarlane. “It is an issue that one police officer called a “hidden epidemic” in Nova Scotia. This conference is vital so we can get a better understanding of the magnitude of the trafficking problem, get an idea of the work that is happening and what more needs to be done.”
Cheyenne Jones, an advocate to end human trafficking says the focus must be on the sex buyers because they are driving demand.
“According to Statistics Canada, Halifax and Ottawa lead the nation for the number of police-reported incidents of human trafficking. Currently in Halifax, there seems to be zero focus on arresting the sex buyers,” says Jones. “A fire can only be extinguished when its controlled. The johns and sex buyers must be arrested and charged in accordance with our current laws. Buying sex is illegal in Canada and they must be held accountable.”
MacFarlane looks forward to hearing all perspectives and listening to ideas to combat human trafficking.
“People who are trafficked are manipulated, they are cajoled, they are blackmailed, victimized, and re-victimized, leaving them with no way to escape or abandoned when they are no longer useful to anyone,” says MacFarlane. “We must do better and make sure these victims feel like they can turn to law authorities when they’ve been trafficked.”
The agenda includes Jade Brooks, author of The Teen Sex Trade, My Story; Human Trafficking, A Mother’s Story, Jennifer Holleman and Special Prosecutor, Nova Scotia Department of Justice.