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Friday, February 21, 2020

Human Trafficking Awareness Session Held in Walkerton

Walkerton | by Robyn Garvey  

OPP share sobering statistics about human trafficking in Grey Bruce communities.

It was sobering presentation as OPP shared the cold hard truth about human trafficking and its existence within our own communities.

Officer Adam Belanger says recruiters often prey on the vulnerable, predominately teenage girls and young woman luring them through emotional manipulation.

The pimps sell the relationship to these vulnerable young women as a romance and once they gain the victim’s trust, they begin manipulating them for what they want.

Human trafficking is a very lucrative venture and there is no shortage of venues that pimps will use to target new victims and exploit them.

Whether it be through social media, online dating sites, parks, laundromats, group homes, schools, malls or parties no location is off limits to pimps.

Locally, Belanger says pimps are bringing in girls from the city to work this area and in some cases local girls are being recruited as well.

Between 2015 to 2019 the OPP detachments in South Bruce, Huron county, Grey Bruce and Perth County had a total of 66 Human Trafficking Calls for Services.

Each year the number continues to rise with 46 of the 66 cases occurring in the last two years alone.

By educating the public on what to look for, Belanger says the community can assist police by serving as their eyes and ears.

There are a number of indicators of trafficking including:
- dark circles under their eyes,
-sleep deprived,
-avoid eye contact,
-visible signs of abuse,
-tattoos (used to brand the women),
-inappropriate clothing,
-terrified of those in law enforcement
-have someone speak for them

He says sometimes it is a simple as noticing a young woman with an older man who doesn’t let her out of his sight, keeping her within arms reach at all times.

Belanger says if the public suspects someone may be a human trafficking victim they should not approach, but rather contact police.

About 75 people attended the Human Trafficking Community Awareness Session, one more session will be held on March 5th from 6:30 to 9:30 at the Kincardine Davidson Centre.

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