… a downtown hotel in Ottowa, Canada. You are just 17. Frightened. Miles from home. Abducted and beaten by a man you’ve never met. And finally, relentlessly starved and forced into sexual exploitation.
Such scenes of violence and exploitation may seem to exist beyond the realms of our comprehension. Yet they are the harsh and harrowing reality for one 17-year old girl from south-western Ontario. They are her truth. Her cruel world.
Sadly this young girl’s story isn’t an exception. Thousands of young girls are trafficked into sexual exploitation every year. Yet she is one of the few whose story ends quite differently. Last week, her persecutor, Kathrine Edwards, 22, was arrested and now face human trafficking charges. She will be tried by an Ottowa court. Human trafficking carries a minimum mandatory 5 year prison sentence in Canada and Edwards now faces a potentially lengthy prison sentence. Yet the important question remains – can judicial punishment ever constitute adequate or full justice for victims of human trafficking whose lives are irrevocably altered as a result of their harrowing experiences?
Just like the plight of the vulnerable Ottowan teenage girl, many human trafficking cases start and end in the hotel room. All over the world – globally and within local communities- hotels rooms harbour human traffickers and their victims. Human trafficking is an industry that takes place, quite literally, behind closed doors, STOP THE TRAFFIK’S Global Travel Alert campaign commits to forcing these literal and metaphorical doors WIDE open – to expose and confront human trafficking by engaging communities and particularly the hotelier industry.
With this in mind, STOP THE TRAFFIK supporter and ACT member, Stephen, recently took to the streets of North London to target hotels in his local area. Armed with “This Hotel has No Room for Human Trafficking” door hangers and a prevailing commitment to affecting change, Stephen visited an astonishing 17 hotels from Finsbury Park to Muswell Hill. Although he admits that he was initially “a little nervous” he received an extremely positive response from the hotels he visited and received orders for 250 welcome packs and 30 door hangers. Congratulations Stephen!
We hope that Stephen’s experience will act as a blueprint and inspiration for other individuals and ACT groups to get on board with the Global Travel Alert campaign!
Please help to make a change. Help to STOP THE TRAFFIK!
If you enjoyed this blog, check out our What do they look like? blog from May which challenges gender stereotypes surrounding human trafficking.