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It will take a nation to end modern slavery

  • May 7, 2015

By Joy Smith, Catholic Register Special

On New Year’s Day, Pope Francis delivered his annual World Day of Peace message that passionately called for an end to modern-day slavery. The title, “No longer slaves, but brothers and sisters,” is taken from St. Paul’s letter to Philemon. Pope Francis noted that “slavery is rooted in a notion of the human person which allows him or her to be treated as an object” and highlighted the many forms of modern-day slavery, including “persons forced into prostitution, many of whom are minors.”

Like many countries, Canadians are beginning to awaken to the reality of forced prostitution, a form of modern-day slavery, in our nation. When I was first elected to Parliament in 2004, It was hardly an issue of concern for Canadians or Parliamentarians.

Today, cases of forced prostitution are regularly, often daily, being investigated by the police. On April 23, Toronto police announced nine arrests in connection with a sex-trafficking ring that forced women aged 15 to 33 into prostitution. On April 12, Halton Police announced the arrest of a sex trafficker after a woman from China was rescued. Earlier in April, an RCMP investigation in Toronto and Montreal resulted in the arrest of an international sex-trafficking crime ring that brought up to 500 young women to Canada from Asia. These women were forced into prostitution in massage parlours and brothels across the country.

Forced prostitution exists primarily because of the demand created by sex buyers who view women and youth as objects to be bought and sold. As Pope Francis recognized, victims of prostitution are “deprived of their freedom, sold and reduced to being the property of others.”

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