It never ceases to amaze me how I continue to encounter uninformed people when it comes to the topic of human trafficking. That said, let me tell you what cheesed me off on Friday.
I received a call from a newsperson inquiring if I was still interested in coming in for an interview on June 21st which is National Aboriginal Day in Canada. The interview is to focus on the ever-growing number of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
Her 1st failure to impress me was insisting I explain how I am an aboriginal woman! In Canada it is estimated only 1/3 of aboriginal people have status. Read this article to understand how confusing it is. Regardless, she had no right to insist I divulge details of my ancestry, or in other words inquire what percentage of Indian am I.
I’ll let her slide a little on this one, however as I will graciously provide her the possibility her probative questions were merely to ensure she was talking to a real live Indian. Ahem.
Her 2nd failure was to ask me (and I heard snickering) about my pimp! Yep, that is what she called the monster who grabbed a homeless little girl, age 15 off the streets. I told her I wasn’t allowing her to go there. I was victimized by a monster and raped by his customers. Human trafficking and prostitution are not even closely related.
Prostitution is a victimless occupation. An exchange, most often of money, in return for a sexual act(s).
Human Trafficking is the enslavement and victimization of a human who is then ‘rented out’ to others to rape and abuse, to the profit of the slave owner.
I insisted women and girls who are raped are not sluts. Rape victims are afforded compassion and dignity, and equally women and girls who were or are enslaved in human trafficking are not prostitutes and should also be afforded compassion and dignity.
Despite my best efforts I am certain she didn’t fully comprehend. Perhaps it was she didn’t want to be educated and thus empowered to sister her own self to others less fortunate.
So, you may ask, how does human trafficking have anything to do with the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls? The first answer lies in the extremely broken child welfare system; it was broken when I was in foster care and it remains broken.
There remains an over representation of indigenous youth in the child welfare system. During 2011 48% of the children in the care of government agencies across Canada were aboriginal. Only 4.3% of Canadians are aboriginal.
The 48% of children does not include the children whose families were ‘painted white’. These are the families who had the Indian beat out of them. Mom has told me the stories of how the nuns would hold them by their ankles over the rail of the bridge when they committed the crime of speaking their own language. There are also the Indians who lost status because they got a university education, purchased land or married out of their kind, etc.
Often, when youth in societal care act out it leads to charges in the criminal justice system. A lot of people don’t know that children’s aid workers can and do press criminal charges against the children in their care. The charges can be for assault, destruction of property, etc. Children’s aid workers also can sue the child’s estate for damages!
Many of these children will end up in detention centres where they encounter sexually exploited youth and recruiters. Recruiters, in some cases are highly roboticized sexually exploited youth.
The roboticized youth often suffer from Stockholm syndrome or capture-bonding. To explain this simply it is a state where the victim develops positive feelings when they mistake a lack of abuse for an act of kindness. The recruiters are ‘gifted’ more kindness when they procure other youth for their monster.
While some victimized youth may ultimately escape, many who do will self-medicate with drugs or alcohol. This in turn leads to addictions and a continuation of the sex trade to pay for the drugs and alcohol.
The second answer lies in yet another failing of Canada, the reserves. Reserves are “land reserved for the use of Natives”. This is not to be confused with land owned by indigenous people. While government retains ownership of the lands they do not provide proper infrastructure e.g. paved roads, hydro poles, gas lines, running water, sewer systems, etc. Nor do they provide adequate resources to schools or spend the necessary funds to build other resources such as libraries, arenas, sport centres, etc. The telling of all the issues would require a very large book be written.
Life on reserves also continues to be very hard as the residual effects of residential schools continue to be felt. The last of these residential schools closed in 1996, a mere 20 years ago. There are many healings that need to take place.
We will begin to combat the issue of the missing and murdered indigenous women and girls by starting at the sources. An independent overseer needs to be established to protect the children from the child welfare system. A societal oxymoron that is begging to be righted.
Yesterday I told my husband I didn’t want to do the interview because I didn’t feel the newsperson really wanted to do a story on the issue. I felt she was more interested in doing a juicy story.
My husband reminded me of the reason I initially agreed to do this. I care about the missing and murdered indigenous girls. I easily could have been one of them. I was blessed with an opportunity to escape, though severely beaten and bloodied by the monster. Now it is my duty to sister myself publicly.
Hey sister of mine out there, I know you are not a slut or a prostitute and I will do everything in my power to educate the dullards.
On a final note: to my missing and murdered Sisters who have already left us, soar gracefully in the heavens on colourful wings of peace and dignity.
© Zora Zebic 2016