National charity Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking has launched a hotline that aims to support victims of human trafficking in Canada.
The hotline is available 24/7 across all of Canada and operators will be able to field calls in more than 200 languages, including a number of Indigenous languages. Further, the hotline will be accessible to deaf, hard-of-hearing and non-verbal callers.
The federal government funded the hotline with a $14.5 million pledge to be given over a five-year period. To set up the hotline, the Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking partnered with an international company that has supported similar initiatives in other countries like the United States.
In an interview with CBC News, Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking CEO Barbara Gosse said the hotline is intended to offer a dedicated resource for human trafficking victims, tipsters and anyone looking to learn more about the crime.
There are still an awful lot of individuals in this country who believe that human trafficking is happening elsewhere,” Gosse told CBC News. “In actual fact […] human trafficking is happening in communities right across this country. And that is a threat to every vulnerable girl, woman, man or boy.”
Additionally, Gosse says the hotline will help the centre collect critical data on human trafficking in Canada. According to Gosse, “there is no national data collection mechanism,” with data instead primarily coming from local police forces. The centre intends to use the hotline to identify trends in human trafficking cases to help prevent others from occurring in the future.
Statistics Canada states that between 2009 and 2016, there were a total of 1,220 police-reported incidents of human trafficking where it was the most serious violation (i.e. sex trafficking). Further, instances of human trafficking in Canada have been rising steadily since 2010, according to Statistics Canada.
However, the agency notes that incidents are widely underreported in part because many victims don’t come forward, either out of trauma, distrust for authorities or fear that they may be prosecuted for illegal acts their traffickers forced them to carry out. Therefore, Gosse hopes that the hotline will help encourage victims to speak about what happened to them.
The hotline number is 1-833-900-1010. Deaf and non-verbal callers can dial 711 and ask the relay service to connect them with the main hotline number.
More information on human trafficking in Canada can be found on the Government of Canada’s website.
Image credit: Ottawa Police
Via: CBC News