Today I participated in the Free Them walk in Toronto to show my support for an amazing and very meaningful cause. I should be sleeping right now because I work in the morning and today was long, but I think there is something I need to put out there that just can’t wait until tomorrow night.
Before the long trek through the city there was a bit of a ceremony. There was registration followed by obligatory photos, then speeches, followed by some awards and the march through the city. One of the speakers was talking about what had attracted her to the cause and she said that anyone could be lured into or forced into prostitution or sex-slave trade. It had occurred to me that as a woman I was more at risk of being raped or kidnapped, or both, but I don’t think I had ever imagined myself having been lured into prostitution, or kidnapped and ferried across Lake Superior to have sex with the crew when the urge struck them.
Thinking back on it now it was a definite possibility. I was a vulnerable youth once, I had reached my lowest point once. Was it just luck that while walking alone through Thunder Bay, a city I was only faintly familiar with, that I didn’t get scooped up by a recruiter? I’m sure that all it would have taken was a bit of smooth talking, not to say that I was overly trusting, but I was in my teens desperate for attention and love and affection from someone that wasn’t related to me. I was depressed in my teens, I couldn’t see beyond where I was at that very moment. I didn’t believe people when they told me everything would sort itself out when I graduated high school and moved on. I had a very low self-esteem, I didn’t see much in myself to love or really like and I felt with all my heart that no one else would see anything there either. If the right guy, young enough, would have shown me that interest to pull me into the trade, where would I be now? What luck fell upon me that I wasn’t kidnapped while walking back to my grandmother’s house late after a movie with my cousin? Every day young girls are being sweet talked into running away from home to live with a man they just met who swears up and down that they love them and it works because not everyone feels such strong love at home and not everyone feels confident in themselves, but everyone wants to be loved. Every day young women and especially children are kidnapped and forced into prostitution. In those cases it doesn’t even take sweet words, just strong arms.
This may sound like a leap to you. I can understand that. How do you go from knowing you made it through safely to assuming you could have been snatched up? What makes you think that you would have even been what they were looking for? Who could really believe that sex slavery exists so far up North, where everyone assumes small towns are safer? But the speakers today were right in insisting that this problem exists worldwide and there are no borders to define where it is safe to live and where it is not. Women are trafficked across Lake Superior and for those of you who are not familiar with this part of the world, Thunder Bay sits on the edge of this great, beautiful, freezing cold lake. It’s not much of a leap to believe that the prostitutes in Thunder Bay are likely not there by choice, or that some of the women on those ships on Lake Superior are from Northern Ontario. It’s not such a leap to sit back and consider that I could have been one of them.
I mean really, who aspires to be a prostitute as a child?
The cause needs a lot more attention. We need to spread the word, the concern and the hope so we can give the victims of human trafficking a voice and a safe place to live.
Visit the website below for more information on the organization, the issue and how you can help. Because what if it had been you?