Canada’s treatment of Aboriginal Women

The following quotes and information are taken from the 2014 report: Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls: Literature Review and Key Informant Interviews

This is an attempt to narrow down the report to the most pertinent information.


Background

“According to the 2006 Canadian Census, Aboriginal peoples (North American Indian -First Nations, Métis, and Inuit) made up 3.8% of the total population, with just over half (51.2%) of the Aboriginal population being female. This is nearly 4% of the total female population in Canada.

Although they are only a small percentage of the population, Aboriginal women and girls are severely over represented in sexual exploitation and trafficking in comparison to the general Canadian population (Seshia, 2005; Sethi, 2007; Saewyc et al, 2008; Sikka, 2009; Farley, Lynne, & Cotton, 2005; Ursel et al, 2007; Barrett, 2010)”  (pg 8)

“As part of her literature review on Aboriginal adolescent girls in the United States of America (USA), Pierce’s 2012 research paper explored recent Canadian research. Also grouping prostitution and human trafficking for sexual exploitation together, her review of Canadian literature identifies “Vancouver, British Columbia; Ottawa, Ontario; and Winnipeg, Manitoba as major centers for the sexual trafficking of Aboriginal women and children (p. 39)”

“Winnipeg: Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (2010) released a document citing a Government of Canada website (www.stopsexwithkids.ca) identifying that of the approximately 400 children and youth exploited in Winnipeg every year, a high of 70-80 percent were of Aboriginal descent (and 72% of the 400 had been processed through Child and Family Services).”

“A 2010 extensive literature review by Barrett identified and explored promising practices for the prevention of human trafficking in Canada for the Status of Women Canada. Barrett stated that “studies on human trafficking in Canada conclude[d] that the majority of people trafficked within Canada are Aboriginal women and children victims of sex trafficking” (p. iii)” (pg 9)


History of Abuse

“Below are some of the highlights of the experiences of the experiential Aboriginal women in the report:

79% had been abused as children (on average by 4 perpetrators).

Over two thirds of the women had family who had attended boarding schools.

92% had been raped.

84% had been physically assaulted.

72% experienced traumatic brain injuries in prostitution.

98% were either currently or previously homeless.

52% at the time of the interview had PTSD; 71% had symptoms of dissociation.

80% had used outpatient substance abuse services; 77% had used homeless shelters; 65% had used domestic violence services; and 33% had used sexual assault services.

92% wanted to escape prostitution.
(Farley et al, 2011, p. 3)

Additionally, from the pool of participants, thirty-nine percent identified as prostituting as minors (below the age of eighteen) – which means they were trafficked.”

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


“In a 2005 paper examining prostituted and trafficked women, out of the one hundred participants, including both First Nations and non-First Nations, 72% qualified for PTSD, which is “among the highest reported in populations where PTSD has been studied, including battered women, combat veterans, childhood trauma survivors, rape survivors, and torture survivors” (Farley, Lynne, & Cotton, 2005, p. 255) . Those who are prostituted and sexually trafficked often experience extreme and intentional violence, abuse and torture. It is no surprise that these women and girls fulfill the criteria for PTSD. Such evidence suggests the difficulty of trying to move on from sexual exploitation, trafficking, and prostitution.”

Root Causes

“The over-representation of Aboriginal women and girls in sexual exploitation and trafficking in Canada has been explored on repeated occasion through a span of years. However, the identified root causes never seem to change. These are the impact of colonialism on Aboriginal societies, the legacies of the residential schools and their inter-generational effects, family violence, childhood abuse, poverty, homelessness, lack of basic survival necessities, race and gender-based discrimination, lack of education, migration, and substance addictions.

In some Aboriginal communities, these root causes coupled with rural/remote living conditions creates a complex environment that contributes to an increased risk among Aboriginal women and girls in being sexually exploited and trafficked. Also, some of the cultural aspects of rural environments make it difficult for Aboriginal communities and individuals to address this issue, prevent it and/or heal from it. Factors such as isolation, poverty, lack of support networks, lack of education and cultural activities further enhance the vulnerabilities of Aboriginal women and girls when they migrate to cities (Kingsley & Mark, 2001; Barrett, 2010; Urban Native Youth Association, 2001; Seshia, 2005; Farley & Lynne, 2005).” (pg 11)


As noted in the report, most of the issues are also common to non-Aboriginal women in prostitution and trafficking: sexual abuse, traumatic childhoods, poverty, low education levels, substance abuse, addictions, lack of resources. 

Introduction into both has common themes, including: pimps (originally acting as caretakers, ‘job providers’ or other concerned benevolent characters), boyfriends (feigning love and comfort at the beginning stages); drug suppliers (creating addictions in order to control the women physically and financially); and criminals holding them against their will through coercion and threats of harm.

Generally cakers will argue that Aboriginal women were abused by “their own” and so it’s not their [cakers] “fault” or responsibility; as such, they shift the burden back onto the women. While inter-familial violence is a big issue inside Aboriginal communities, these women are abused just as much (if not more) by white Canadians. 

This happens through the johns [customers] who are predominately white, and sexual abuse in foster care; a very slim minority of foster carers are Aboriginal.


Correlation to Foster Care

“While the research does not say that Aboriginal children who go into child welfare services and foster care will be sexually exploited, there is significant co-relational data to link heightened vulnerability to being sexually exploited and trafficked with being involved in child welfare services. TERF performs an intake evaluation on their participants and their findings are that:

74% of TERF youth are involved with Child and Family Services.
With an average of 5 placements in their short lives.

68% of TERF adults were clients of Child and Family Services as youth.
With an average of 6.5 placements during their youth.

 (Ursel et al, 2007, p. iii)

Saewyc et al’s 2008 study, compiling data from five different youth health surveys, and including 1,845 youth across British Columbia, (and of which Aboriginal youth were found to make up one third to one-half of the sexually exploited participants across the surveys) found that many participants had had experience with child welfare services.

For some, foster care or a group home was their first site of sexual exploitation: 14% in 2000, 10% in 2001, and 12% in 2006 (p. 23). The researchers further explored the relation of youth in care and found that “sexually exploited youth were significantly more likely to have been in care than their non-exploited peers” (p. 40). The researchers specified further:

Among younger street-involved youth in 2006, 44% of sexually exploited youth had been in care, compared to 33% of non-exploited youth. Similarly, among older street-involved youth in 2001, 66% of exploited youth had been in care, compared to 41% of non-exploited youth. Youth in custody in 2000 had even higher rates: 75% of sexually exploited youth had been in care, while 59% of non-exploited youth had been in care. (Saewyc et al. 2008, p. 40) (p33)”

The reality for many Aboriginal women and girls in Canada are that they are victims and survivors of domestic sex trafficking. Aboriginal women and girls are being targeted for sexual exploitation and relocated from their communities, homes, foster homes, to and within urban centres in Canada. In general, the high rates of migration from a reserve (rural area) to an urban centre also poses an increased risk and entry point through which vulnerable Aboriginal women and girls may be exploited. The promises by sex traffickers to provide shelter and employment in off – reserve communities can lead young Aboriginal girls to feel that they can escape poverty or a potential problem situation at home. They willingly leave their home and community only to discover that the promise was too good to be true and they are forced into sex slavery. They are manipulated and lured by sex traffickers. Many Aboriginal girls go missing from communities or in urban centres and they are viewed as runaways, or simply fall off the radar. The misinterpretations of misconceptions on the definition regarding cross-border movement and coercion leaves many trafficked Aboriginal women and girls unprotected and neglected. (p 35)”


I looked up information regarding Aboriginal children in foster care. They overwhelmingly represent the bulk of foster children:

“… aboriginal children made up seven per cent of the country’s child population, but accounted for 48 per cent of foster children.”

Of course, cakers didn’t begin to take census information on foster children until 2011! Subsequently, it’s difficult to ascertain certain things because they – you guessed it – don’t have the data! 

From the data in this report alone, sexual abuse of foster children can be assumed to fluctuate between 10-15%. Keep in mind this is only self-reported data from women who went on to become prostitutes or trafficking victims (the small group surveyed here); not counting the unreported incidents and women who survived childhood relatively unscathed. The number could reasonably be assumed at approximately 1 in 5 aboriginal children being abused in care.

Curious, I looked up statistics and lo and behold:

A recent report found shocking levels of sexual abuse in British Columbia. And:”More than 60 per cent of the victims were Indigenous girls, the report found, even though Indigenous youth only make up a quarter of the youth in foster care in B.C.”

Indigenous girls are up to 4x more likely to be sexually abused. I would like to give more information but you know the old favorite caker standby: we don’t have the data!


National Resources

RCMP’s Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre:

“In fulfilling these priorities they have launched a campaign, “I am not for Sale” with educational tools aimed at Canada’s youth. They have also released a report, Human Trafficking in Canada. Regrettably, both of these initiatives are lacking a specific mention of Aboriginal peoples. The report goes so far as to include specific chapters linking Eastern European, Asian, and African women to human trafficking in Canada, and yet there is no specific mention of Aboriginal women and girls. Instead of putting forth the needed awareness and identification of the importance of Aboriginal women and girls’ sexual exploitation and trafficking in Canada, we are instead left with a stereotyped view of human trafficking that largely passes over the domestic nature of this crime in Canada.” (p 37)

(It would make sense to aim your awareness-campaign towards the most trafficked group, would it not? But this is the RCMP!)

“Further challenging the RCMP’s task to address human trafficking is a lack of funding when it comes to Aboriginal women and girls. In a Committee report of the Parliament of Canada, it is reported that Sergeant Lori Lowe had advised the Committee, “that the RCMP’s National Aboriginal Policing Service had an interest in examining the trafficking of Aboriginal women for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but that the RCMP lacked funding and human resources to be able to carry out such research” (Standing Committee on the Status of Women, 2007, p. 10). Considering the prevalence of Aboriginal women and girls as victims of sexual exploitation, this is a funding and resource deficiency that should be sufficiently addressed so that the RCMP is properly informed on the issue.”

Of course cakers don’t have the funding! And without the funding they can’t carry out research, which of course means solid information and provable statistics; they can fall back on their favorite excuse: lack of data! Why even have a unit if you can’t fund resources for the number one victim group?


BC’s Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons

“In line with some of the suggestions put forth earlier in this paper, the OCTIP engages in significant public education endeavours on human trafficking. Networking and collaborating with Aboriginal communities is to be applauded, and their approach of education about human trafficking directly answers to calls in the literature for such practices. However, while they recognize the priority of human trafficking for Aboriginal women and youth, currently the organization is without a strategic plan on how to address the issue. It is also unclear how, from their report, they plan to leverage the relationship-building with Aboriginal communities to combat Aboriginal sexual exploitation in a systematic way.”


National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking

“The Canadian government released their National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking (NAPCH) by Public Safety in 2012 … 

In a testament to how prevalent domestic trafficking is, the report identified that, of the cases waiting to be processed, ninety percent were regarded as domestic human trafficking (National Action Plan, p. 8). The report identifies the disparities in the current protection system, confessing a knowledge gap in how human trafficking in Aboriginal communities manifests and takes shape (National Action Plan, p. 12). In their 2012 strategy, the only suggestion to address gaps in this area is that there needs to be enhanced engagement with Aboriginal organizations. More recently, Public Safety Canada tendered a call for proposals titled, Research: Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls: Trends and Issues. At the time of this writing, this research is currently being carried out.” (p 39)


Child Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking Act, 2012

“In addition to this, the Act also provides the victim with recourse to sue their perpetrator in Tort Law over the harm caused by their actions. While a valid effort, an analysis of Aboriginal contexts quickly raises some problem areas … 

… suing requires a lawyer, and a lawyer requires fees. Requiring Aboriginal women and girls to fund their pursuit of justice as trafficking victims is problematic. Considering that Aboriginal women and girls are among the poorest of the poor, this may be a very unaffordable option to pursue their rights. 

Considering the widespread sexual exploitation of Aboriginal women and girls in Canada as a domestic trafficking practice, it would seem logical that any anti-human trafficking endeavours in Canada would have this consideration as one of its key understandings and act upon it. Yet we see from the above examples that it is quite often simply not the case. The Manitoba Act is the only one in existence in Canada.” (p 39)


Victims by “choice”

“Throughout the three articles, the collective argument of the researchers are that the prevalence of sexual abuse suffered by these women as children, their on-going exploitation until they hit the age of 18 (at which point Canadian law, law enforcement, and civil society seem to deem it a ‘choice’), their poverty, and their lack of alternatives can only logically and ethically mean that it is not a choice, they are being exploited, by pimp, madam, or john. In the 2003 article, which was a research endeavour exploring the roots of ‘prostitution’ in nine different countries, these authors make the contention that genuine consent cannot exist in prostitution. Real consent requires: “physical safety, equal power with customers, and real alternatives.” (Farley et al., 2003, p. 65)” (p 40)

“Historical views of Aboriginal females as sexually available and as criminals carries over into some modern views. Added to this image are the impacts of colonization, residential school trauma and intergenerational effect, and the breakdown of traditional communities as a result of these pressures and impacts (Sikka, 2009), resulting in inter-related factors increasing the over-representation of these women and girls in Canada’s domestic sex trade. However, these factors do not move these women into the category of what is popularly and legally considered trafficking, “thus, things that happen to [these women and girls] are not viewed as exploitation or trafficking in persons, but rather as a natural consequence of the life that she has chosen to occupy. The image of the trafficked ‘victim,’ therefore, does not include her story” (Sikka, 2009,p. 2). ” (p 41)

“If, in attempting to address women who have been sexually trafficked, we ignore women working in prostitution who have not been relocated for the purposes of sexual exploitation, and we ignore women who have no pimp but are daily exploited by johns, then it is NWAC’s stance that such a perspective would be unethical to addressing sexually exploited women, and such endeavours would be built to greatly limit the addressing of the real society issues and factors that make up human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation in Canada.”


Legalized prostitution: a failed project

“Illegal prostitution, in the form of human trafficking, continues to take place in countries, such as Germany, where it was legalized in 2002. Two-thirds of the estimated 400,000 sex workers in Germany travel from overseas to the country (Osborne, 2013) where the system of legalized prostitution provides a cover for traffickers to mask indications of international human trafficking, allowing women in large numbers to be brought to Germany and sexually exploited (Unprotected: How legalizing prostitution has failed, 2013). When confronted by police, many workers from outside of Germany were told what to say by their pimps to avoid suspicion. Since the legalization of prostitution in Germany, the number of trafficked victims has increased from an estimate of 9,870 – 19,740 in 2001 to 12,350 – 24,700 in 2003 (German Federal Police Office Report, 2009, p.75). The legalized prostitution system has provided for a great increase in trafficking victims in an unhealthy dynamic that seems to be increasing the number of women who are forced and trapped within a legalized system.


Quit talking, start doing

“Perhaps it is time to reframe the discussion on sex trafficking in Canada and greatly increase the emphasis on exploring Aboriginal over-representation, exiting, and prevention as opposed to repeatedly ‘discovering’ high Aboriginal representation in research on Canada’s domestic sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. Some of this would be addressed through pursuing a national research agenda that would present a comprehensive picture of Aboriginal representation in Canada’s domestic sex trafficking. Partly it would depend on recognition in the ranks of policy development and implementation that Aboriginal contexts should be a priority. It is not our contention to displace others who are suffering in sexual exploitation and trafficking in Canada.

However, from our research, and that of others, findings show that Aboriginal women and girls are drastically over-represented in sex trafficking to the point where they seem to be the dominant representatives in some regions of Canada, and not far behind that in other places. With Aboriginal women and girls making up such a small segment of Canada’s population, this over-representation is unacceptable and requires immediate attention.”


Caker question: What’s the difference between ‘red-skins’?

“The prevailing practice in research focusing on Aboriginal women and girls in sex trafficking and sexual exploitation in Canada uses a “pan-Aboriginal” approach which amalgamates First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples into one group. This is both troubling and problematic. It does not fully recognize the cultural diversity, distinctness, and identities of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Peoples.”


Buying sex: interconnection

“As I’ve studied and learned from women who’ve been exploited and prostituted – most from the time they were children – it has become clear to me that trafficking, prostitution, strip clubs and pornography are all interconnected. Unless we are willing to talk about and address each of these, and in particular, the demand that drives them, we won’t solve the problem of sexual exploitation.”

Ms. Beazley further expressed that, “Pornography teaches entitlement – the idea that sex is a need, and that men have a right to it on their terms at any time, which legitimizes the buying of sex and leads us to accept that there should be a class of women made available for purchase. Porn feeds the demand for paid sex – which funnels women into prostitution. Men consume porn and seek out the sex they believe other men are having and feel they too are entitled to have. As violence and degradation in porn have become commonplace, this is mirrored in the lived experiences of women in prostitution. And all of this fuels sex trafficking. Increased demand for paid sex always leads to an increase in trafficking. Trafficking victims are exploited in pornography, and filmed sex acts are sometimes used as a means of coercion and control. Porn is also used to groom and train trafficking victims.”


John entitlement: violence

“We know from the research that a very high number of Johns are violent (this includes both physical and verbal acts of aggression). High-volume participant studies return high reports of violence: 90% of 100 women (52 of which were First Nations) had been physically assaulted in prostitution (Farley, Lynne, & Cotton, 2005); 92% reported being raped in prostitution – over half were raped 5-10 times, 15% of them raped over 20 times; 84% reported being physically assaulted while prostituting, and of the assaults, Johns were the perpetrators for 44% of the attacks (Farley et al, 2011, p. 28). While we recognize that there is a distinction between prostitution and trafficking, as prostitution is deemed non-forced and trafficking as forced, we think it is fair to work on the inference that, if different, trafficking victims would face more, not less violence. For this reason, studies on violence against prostitutes would still have bearing on people who are sexually trafficked.” (pg 46)

Blame Jezebel

“From their perspective, it would seem that the fundamental approach in Canada was misdirected, and that blame for trafficking fell squarely on the shoulders of trafficked women and girls. This was reflected in the fact that prosecuting of prostitution where currently women faced incarceration for acts of prostitution while the johns were sent to john school (a place where johns are educated on prostitution such that they are discouraged from engaging in it again). Incarceration only further marginalizes and discriminates against these vulnerable women and girls and makes difficult their exiting of prostitution for safer, more reliable employment options. The law does not seem to be effective in pursuing pimps and johns. In their experience, the interviewees indicated that judgment, on the part of police and media, seemed to be a very relevant factor in terms of whether police perform fairly when it comes to missing and trafficked Aboriginal girls. The police are more likely to arrest the women over the men. Some may have thought it was a form of helping these women.”


Torture vs Assault

“Additionally, we would like to specifically address the aspect of torture in sexual exploitation and trafficking. Torture that occurs in the context of intimate relationships and trafficking is dismissed as an assault or domestic violence. Two of the key informants that were interviewed spoke of how disappointed they are in Canada because of the present government’s refusal to change section 269.1 of the criminal code so that a private individual (a non-State actor) who commits classic torture can be criminally charged for the crime of torture they perpetrate; making such a change to the criminal code was a recommendation given to Canada by the UN Committee against Torture in 2012. They explained further that the criminal code only criminalizes torture perpetrated by State actors such as military and police personnel. Currently, the definition of human trafficking is about perpetrators who work to enslave a victim in the ways described in Canadian law and the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress & Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children. The interviewees strongly emphasized that “once enslaved the reality is that many are tortured and Canadian law does not provide for holding such torturers criminally accountable for the torture they inflict; they must be, to eliminate discrimination under the law and support the human and legal rights of women and girls so victimized to speak their truth, be heard, and seek justice.” (pg 73)

Finally I will include what seem to be the most relevant and common sense solutions recommended for implementation:


Social Support Programs

“As much as is possible and practical, involve experiential survivors in the running of support programs and services. According to previous research, this is one of the best ways to make positive connections with women and girls currently being exploited, which reinforces their own commitment for and belief in changing their lives for the better.

  • Involve experiential women (former and, if possible, current) in the development of new programs and support services; showing them how important their voices and input are helps build confidence while ensuring the program will connect with them and meet their needs.

  • Aboriginal women and girls need safe housing and safe spaces; homelessness and a lack of safe places greatly increase the vulnerability of these women and girls. Immediate funding and long-term support are needed to provide for this housing shortage

  • Provide childcare for participants in programs. Many of these women and young girls are attempting to raise children; without adequately providing for their childcare needs, they may be unable to attend or effectively engage with any support programs and services.”


THE TAKEAWAY:

Because the overwhelming majority of cakers are too lazy, racist and stupid to read a simple report, I will summarize and interpret:

– As poverty statistics show: Aboriginal people all over the country overwhelmingly live in poverty and often third world conditions (see: north, rural).

– Most Aboriginal women grow up in dysfunctional homes with cycles of family violence and addictions; these are in part a result of a century of child sexual abuse, rape, and torture at residential schools.

While cakers will tell the communities to “get over it”, the last school closed in the 90s. For those who went to school during the 60s era and had children in the 80s, their offspring are somewhere in the late 20s to early 30s age-group; it is still fairly “new” inter-generational trauma.

-When Aboriginal girls are removed from their dysfunctional homes and placed in foster care (with “white parents”) they are at large risk of being sexually abused: 4x the average of non-indigenous girls, as many as 1 in 5 girls (likely more).

-After being abused at home, growing up in dysfunction, and/or being sexually abused in foster care, a significant portion go on to become addicted, homeless, or are “pimped” into prostitution or sexually trafficked.

-Aboriginal women make up the majority of trafficked persons in Canada.

-Society then complains about the victims of “choice” when they go missing or are murdered, saying they “chose” to be victims, thereby dismissing their hardships and the systemic racism in Canada.

-The women are punished more often – and harsher –  than the men who are “buying” them. Without demand there is no need for supply (as anyone fighting the “drug war” will tell you); it is a simple, well known principle.

It seems absurd to re-victimize the very people who have been downtrodden their whole lives, but this is what the Canadian system does.

So after non-aboriginal Canadians raped and abused the children at residential schools, they then are the majority of johns “buying” the children and women in Winnipeg, Vancouver, etc. They are also the majority sexually-abusing indigenous girls in foster care.

Is it any wonder that the “Johns” or customers are never held to account, properly prosecuted or investigated? It’s no coincidence. It is easy to blame the victim for existing, for not “trying hard enough” to escape victimhood, while the perpetrators remain protected and unprosecuted.

Cakers … such nice people! In fact, they love to tell you how nice they are! They’re “not racist”. And of course they’re “less racist” than Americans (which the facts do not suggest), something they’ll point out should any criticisms arise.

O Canada!