From The Bivouac:
Working in the community with youth what I have seen for many years and see continuing is a complete lack of knowledge on how to respond to protect girls when they are 12, 13, 14 and first groomed by predators into sexual exploitation.
About 10 years back there was some funding to get community action teams in place (in BC) to facilitate a coordinated effort between systems to respond better. I was very engaged in trying to make the community action team work in my community for a number of years. Nevertheless, what I see 10 years later is that all the work that happened then seems to have been lost or forgotten.
Saanich [BC] had a strong team and partnership with RCMP – don’t know if it continues. That’s the big issue for me – we live in a society that still promotes rape culture, that tells men to be tough and bury their pain (if they were victimized), and where consent laws get misused to justify lack of involvement, where police apathy is the norm because ‘if she’s not willing to make a statement Crown won’t go ahead with charges so why waste my time’…
A number of years ago there was a directive from [the Solicitor General] for police to lay charges in cases of domestic violence because awareness of the dynamics of intimate partner violence became better understood. Battered wives weren’t refusing to press charges to thwart the system but rather for their own self preservation. So why then do police and child protection workers look at teenage girls who are being sexually exploited and frame it as ‘choice’. Why is there such reluctance on the part of systems to recognize the depths of manipulation and psychological victimisation involved when a young woman (or young man) is known to be sexually exploited.
The reason Canada has such a shameful reputation vis a vis the issue of sexual trafficking is that girls are devalued, Indigenous girls are even more devalued and I guess as long as it’s not their daughter there is no incentive to enact and make use of legislation that could more effectively assist young girls to access safety at the early stage of entry into the world of sex trafficking.
And of course the deficit of resources – safe housing being one of the biggest – in communities exacerbates risk for vulnerable young people who are not safe at home. Try to get help from [the Ministry of Children and Families] if you’re over 14 and finally disclose long term abuse in your family home. Try to find safe shelter that lasts more than a few days – especially in rural and remote communities….
It’s not just the predators who are to blame for the phenomenon of sexual exploitation, it’s the legal systems who are not responding, it’s all of us in every community who are failing to hold the systems accountable, electing government focused on industry and profit instead of people…