TORONTO - Human trafficking is not limited to sexual slavery, says Karlee Sapoznik, and it occurs closer to home than Canadians believe.

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA

OTTAWA - It is one thing to set victims of human trafficking free but quite another to get them started on a new life.

“They believe they are good for nothing,” said Conservative MP Joy Smith. “This is so wrong. It breaks my heart. A lot of these girls were lost and had no support to get back on their feet.”

With that in mind Smith has launched a foundation to invite the public to participate in the fight against human trafficking.

The Joy Smith Foundation is a registered, non-profit organization where “every red cent goes to the victims and the NGOs that take care of them,” Smith said.

The foundation is a follow-up to the federal government’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking announced in June 2012. Non-political and non-partisan, the foundation is all about the victims,, Smith said.

Victims are “so traumatized they need support” to “start their lives again,” she said. They “need a vision” to rebuild their lives.

“I’m trying to be a role model for the public to show them what they can do,” Smith said. The money goes to the victims to provide rehabilitation to prepare them for a new life outside the sex trade; for clothing, counselling, housing, and money, “all those important everyday things.”

She recalled the court testimony of one trafficking victim who said she felt “good for nothing except giving sex to men.”

The foundation’s other component is building awareness of the plight of trafficking victims and the “unsung heroes” among police officers who rescue them and the NGOs that look after them, Smith said. “These people need to be thanked.”

Smith said people do not realize how hard it is to work in the human trafficking field and the kinds of blocks one runs into, from “judicial blocks” to the blocks from one’s peers in the police force. The work can be discouraging and depressing because the damage to trafficked women and children is so horrible, she said.

“It’s all about love, your love for girls and a desire to give them a fresh start,” she said.

Smith is the first MP in Canadian history to cause amendments to the Criminal Code twice through private member’s bills. Bill C-310 added a mandatory five-year sentence to those convicted of trafficking children under 18, and C-268 made human trafficking an extra-territorial offence, allowing prosecution of Canadian citizens or residents for trafficking crimes committed in other countries.

More information about the foundation can be found at

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith’s second anti-human trafficking private member’s bill has passed the Senate with unanimous support.

Bill C-310 was to receive Royal Assent on June 28 and become law.

The bill makes human trafficking an extra-territorial offence under Canada’s Criminal Code, thus allowing Canada to prosecute citizens and permanent residents for human trafficking offences committed in other countries where there might be weak laws, inadequate policing and/or an ineffective justice system.

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - The federal government’s National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Human Trafficking announced June 6 will be a “huge help” in battling modern-day slavery, said Conservative MP Joy Smith.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Smith, who participated in the NAP’s roll-out in one of several news conferences across the country. “This adds a new step toward combatting human trafficking in Canada.

Published in Canada

ROME - Increasing numbers of women are migrating alone, a situation that makes them vulnerable to violence and exploitation, but one that often shows their courage and commitment to making a better life for their families, said speakers at a conference in Rome.

About 214 million people live outside their country of origin, and half of all migrants are women, said Miguel Diaz, U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, which sponsored a panel discussion about migration and women May 24.

Published in International

OTTAWA - Consumers should ensure products they buy are not produced by modern-day slaves, said the American Ambassador-at-large who monitors and combats human trafficking.

“It takes a cultural shift,” Ambassador Luis CdeBaca told a gathering of MPs, senators, diplomats and NGOs on May 17.

CdeBaca, who works under U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said consumers must ask themselves: “Where did the shrimp come from that I’m eating? Where did the chocolate come from that I’m eating?”

Published in Canada

WASHINGTON - More than three dozen U.S. and British faith-based investment firms have banded together to get the Summer Olympics' major sponsors and tourist hotels to sign a pledge saying they will work to stop human trafficking around the Olympic Games.

So far, the campaign has had some success.

Published in Features

VATICAN CITY - By partnering with law enforcement agencies, the Catholic Church and other organizations can help victims identify human traffickers and bring them to justice.

"The Catholic Church has a huge role to play with 1.1 billion Catholics across the world. With their networks they can make (society) hostile to traffickers and be safe havens for victims," said a young British woman who was tricked into prostitution in Italy.

The woman, who goes by the pseudonym Sophie Hayes for her protection, was one of a number of speakers at a Vatican conference on combating human trafficking May 8.

Published in International

OTTAWA - A bill that would make it possible for Canada to prosecute human trafficking offenses committed by citizens or permanent residents outside the country has passed in the House of Commons.

Conservative MP Joy Smith's private member's Bill C-310 passed a third reading vote April 27 and has gone on to the Senate.

Published in Canada

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith expressed shock the NDP's playing of partisan politics has prevented debate on anti-trafficking Bill C-310 and delayed the bill from going immediately to the Senate.

Smith had expected the NDP would support her bill as it had at every previous stage. Bill C-310 had unanimously passed through the Justice Committee with no recommendations.

"I am absolutely stunned by this," said Smith. "Bill C-310 will strengthen Canada's efforts to combat human trafficking and this should not be a partisan matter. I have worked so hard to secure the support of all parties and have appreciated the support of all MPs for this bill up until today."

Published in Canada

Legalizing prostitution won’t make women safer, a sex-trade survivor told about 200 women and 20 men at a one-day conference on human trafficking.

Just two days before the Ontario Court of Appeal released a ruling that legalized brothels while maintaining laws against pimping in the Criminal Code, Bridget Perrier told conference delegates the myth of prostitution as a choice must be challenged. The March 24 conference was organized by themy Loretto Sisters.

“We always hear that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. I always say it’s the world’s oldest oppression,” Perrier said. “Really, it’s paid rape. It’s child abuse.”

Published in Features

Brazil is now the world’s sixth largest economy and economists project it will be the fifth largest by the end of this year. It has an advanced aerospace industry, some of the most sophisticated telecommunications companies in the world and more billionaires than Japan. It also has slaves.

Between 25,000 and 40,000 Brazilians every year are trafficked into slavery. On average, government anti-slavery teams free 4,500 people per year.

“When I went to Brazil for the first time (in the 1990s) I was far from imagining that slavery was still existing,” said French-born Dominican Brother Xavier Plassat. “For me it was a discovery.”

Published in Features

TORONTO - For 400 years Loretto Sisters have been working to raise the dignity of women. It started with girls’ schools in 17th-century England, but now the Sisters want to take on criminals who sell girls into sexual slavery.

“We have to read the signs of the times, so we have to say ‘What would (Loretto founder Mary Ward) think was needed now if she were here today?’ ” said Sr. Maria Lanthier, co-ordinator of a March 24 conference on human trafficking. “This is one of the biggest issues that keeps women down — trafficking. It’s the second biggest criminal industry in the world.”

Published in Canada: Toronto-GTA