February 27 2012
When you hear about human trafficking in the sex trade, most people have an image of women being
smuggled into Canada from abroad and forced to work in seamy brothels.
But there's a thriving trafficking trade right here at home and it's run by pimps who prey on the naïve and
innocent. It could be a young woman from your neighbourhood, maybe the daughter of a friend, or the
girl next door.And her entry into the sex trade is rarely by choice.
It starts in a bar, a club or even online: a meeting with someone who makes the girl feel special when they
find themselves isolated, lonely and confused. But soon that relationship turns ugly and by then it's too
late to escape.
In reality, that charming boyfriend is a pimp who uses threats, beatings and rape to force the girl into
"He beat me up so bad that my hotel room looked like a murder scene," said Jasmine, a former sex trade
worker, who drifted into prostitution when she was a university student.
"My face was so mangled I didn't even look like myself anymore," she said.
InYork Region, a suburb north of Toronto, police are trying a new approach to rescue women like
Jasmine from the sex trade. The aim is to treat them not as criminals, but as victims.
"They're crying for help," said Det. Sgt. Henry De Ruiter, the head ofYork Regional Police Drugs and
Vice Unit. "So if we can get in there and can establish that rapport and hope for t