It has been said that “Rape is one of the most terrible crimes on earth and it happens every few minutes. The problem with groups who deal with rape is that they try to educate women about how to defend themselves. What really needs to be done is teaching men not to rape. Go to the source and start there.” Kurt Cobain.
When I saw this quote I was heartened to know that one of my childhood musical influences was outspoken on a subject, which has long driven me to work in the violence prevention field. As I have said before I have known many women in my life affected by this most egregious form of gender-based violence. The basis of all violence is a lack of empathy, concern, entitlement to harm, and lack of consent.
Of course we know that there are thousands of missing women in this country, many of who may be being held against their will. They are kidnapped each year by men and are of course likely being subjected to rape on an on-going basis.
What makes me feel more outright rage though are the vast numbers of women and girls being trafficked each and every year. When I mention human trafficking in circle work, people often think I am referring to women and girls being brought in from Eastern Europe, Africa, or Asia. In fact, the majority of victims in Canada are Canadians. The average age of a girl is trafficked is 13, and the reason that girls are vulnerable is because they have left home because of violence. Violence begets violence. I can scarcely think of a crime other than murder, which is more horrendous for a young girl to experience. Rape is torture. For girls and women confined against their will by pimps, daily life is surely hell. Many become addicted to drugs to soothe the pain of the on-going violation of their bodies.
Globally there are nearly 30 million people being trafficked and held against their will, through more than 460 known trafficking routes. 58% of trafficking globally is for sexual slavery. 75% of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls. 98% of victims for the purposes of sexual slavery are women and girls. 99% of the pimps are men, and in Canada they are profiting to the tune of $280,000 per female in their possession. There are over 2,000,000 children enslaved sexually globally, and the global sexual slavery trade is a 99 billion dollar industry.
So, what can we do? We can teach men not to rape and that women are not property. But how is this going to influence a swiftly spiraling out of control problem? As Ghandhi said with regards to peace, we must start with the children. We must inspire the next generation to become activists against this most terrible of human rights abuses. We must educate about systemic global violence, and there can be no better place to start than with human trafficking.
By Kevin Vowles, R+R Facilitator