Author: Karen Campbell
Karen Campbell is Manager of Anti-Trafficking grants at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. She strongly believes in the power of people to build social movements that affect change, and has worked in international policy advocacy for the human and labour rights of migrant workers since 2010. Her secret talents include tap dancing (poorly) and cheering for the Blue Jays.
For the last two weeks, I have had the privilege to travel across the country to visit social service agencies and community-based organizations that are championing anti-trafficking initiatives at the local level. Most of these programs are run by women and informed by people who have experienced trafficking in one form or another. All of them are looking for ways to support those who have been trafficked while tackling the root causes of the problem in their communities.
When we speak of sex trafficking at the Canadian Women’s Foundation, we define it as an extreme form of violence against woman and girls. The coercion of a girl or a woman to engage in sex for the financial gain of another is nothing less than violent and an egregious form of abuse that must not be tolerated. Less often discussed in public forums is the fact that sex trafficking is also a human rights violation. Sex trafficking is more than just one person mistreating another — it is the result of systemic problems in our society that need to be urgently addressed.
The federal election is just around the corner, and during this long campaign a mighty alliance of women’s organizations and their allies across Canada have been working tirelessly to engage our political leaders on issues of importance to women. Up for Debate has not only raised public awareness of a blind spot when it comes to gender issues in Canada’s political discourse, but has also carved out an important space for conversations on violence against women, women’s economic inequality, and the need for more women in leadership positions.