Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls in Canada


Excerpt from Introduction, Page 201:

"In Canada the term “trafficking in persons” commonly evokes images of young Eastern European women deceived into sexual slavery in the back rooms of strip clubs in Toronto, or young Asian women forced into prostitution in seedy massage parlours in Vancouver. Media, law enforcement, and various levels of government have adopted and maintained these images in documentaries, [1] training programs, [2] and educational materials,3 and all have been keen to be involved in addressing the issue of trafficking. However, the trafficking of persons within Canadian borders, or “domestic” trafficking, has not received similar attention, and the unique ways in which Aboriginal [4] women and girls are being trafficked have not been put in the “trafficking” picture.

This invisibility translates into a lack of services available to address the trafficking of Aboriginal women and girls and a general apathy from the criminal justice system towards the types of trafficking they face. The attention that law enforcement and governmental departments have focused on international trafficking has given rise to a number of victim support programs,[5] all of which are accessible only to select types of victims. Although these services are to be made available to “internally trafficked”[6] victims as well, Aboriginal women and girls rarely fall within this “victim” ideal. Historical representations of the Aboriginal woman have often been linked to sexual availability and criminal activity. These images are then further compounded by the current overrepresentation of Aboriginal women and girls in the visible sex trade[7] as a consequence of colonization, residential school trauma, and overarching community breakdown.[8] Thus, things that happen to an Aboriginal woman are not viewed as exploitation or trafficking in persons, but rather as a natural consequence of the life that she has chosen to occupy. The image of the trafficked “victim,” therefore, does not include her story....

In this paper, I explore the ways in which the intersection of race, gender, and poverty faced by many Aboriginal women and girls is exploited by “traffickers” in Canada. I discuss how the history of the colonization of Aboriginal peoples by white settlers and the characterization of Aboriginal women as available sexual objects has lead to an inability of the criminal justice system to acknowledge Aboriginal women and girls as victims of all forms of sexual exploitation, including particular types of trafficking in persons, and the consequent exclusion of Aboriginal women from the programs, services, and campaigns designed to provide redress for these crimes. I also discuss how the use of the trafficking paradigm to address the sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women and girls is only one tool in the struggle, and should not be used as a “catch-all” issue within which to address all violence." (201-202).

Publication Information

Sikka, Annette. "Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls in Canada." Aboriginal Policy Research Consortium International (APRCi), (2010): Paper 57.

Sikka, Annette
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