|October 29, 2015
MANITOBA PARTNERS WITH JOY SMITH FOUNDATION, KLINIC TO FIGHT SEXUAL EXPLOITATION, HUMAN TRAFFICKING
– – –Hotline to Offer Lifeline for Victims; Awareness Campaign Targets Exploitation Related to Major Sports Events: Ministers Mackintosh, Irvin-Ross
To support victims of human trafficking and prevent the increase in sexual exploitation related to large sports events, the Manitoba government is partnering with community agencies to create a toll-free hotline and launch a public awareness campaign, Attorney General Gord Mackintosh and Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross said today.
“It’s a sad reality that sexual exploitation and human trafficking often increase in the days leading up to major sporting events,” said Minister Mackintosh. “This hotline will be a lifeline for victims who need help to escape exploitation. The public awareness campaign will discourage potential exploiters by focusing on the damage done to people trapped by human trafficking.”
The Manitoba government will fund the hotline with an investment of $22,000. The hotline will be available 24-7 and run by Klinic Community Health Centre, effective immediately. Trained counsellors will help people involved or likely to become victimized by human trafficking, sexual exploitation or forced labour. Counsellors will provide crisis intervention, information and support, and connect callers to resources.
“Human traffickers prey on the most vulnerable people and it can be incredibly difficult to escape their grasp,” said Minister Irvin-Ross. “This new hotline, staffed by knowledgeable and compassionate counsellors, will help anyone looking for a way out of this devastating underground industry.”
As part of the Manitoba Sporting Events Safety Working Group (MSESWG), the Manitoba government will help fund an awareness campaign called Buying Sex is Not a Sport in the weeks leading up to the Grey Cup in Winnipeg. MSESWG members, including law enforcement and community agencies, want Manitobans to understand the increase in victimization that can be directly related to large sporting events. The campaign will also help people at risk of human trafficking, particularly young women and girls, learn how to seek help through the new 24-hour hotline, Minister Irvin-Ross noted.
The campaign, which has a total cost of $23,000, will also receive support from the Joy Smith Foundation, established in September 2011 to provide public education and fund front-line organizations that rescue and support victims of human trafficking.
“It is well-known that human traffickers use large sporting events to traffic and exploit our youth into the sex trade,” said Joy Smith, founder and president, Joy Smith Foundation. “Working together we can raise awareness of this issue and protect our youth from these predators.”
“Large sporting events, such as the Grey Cup, can increase the risk of forced prostitution, which is one form of human trafficking,” said Diane Redsky, executive director, Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre, and chair, MSESWG. “We are working together to be proactive and raise awareness while preparing for victim services before, during and after the Grey Cup.”
“Along with our many community partners, we are pleased to be part of the Buying Sex is Not a Sport campaign, an initiative that seeks to build awareness of sexual exploitation and resources for those impacted,” said Rosemarie Gjerek, director, counselling and community health services, Klinic Community Health Centre. “Klinic will be providing an ongoing resource, the Human Trafficking Hotline, which will provide support and counselling for those impacted by sexual or labour-related exploitation.”
This initiative supports Tracia’s Trust: Manitoba’s Sexual Exploitation Strategy, which co-ordinates government, police and community services to address sexual exploitation through awareness, prevention and intervention. More information on Tracia’s Trust is available at www.gov.mb.ca/fs/traciastrust.
For help, information or more resources, Manitobans are encouraged to call the Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-844-333-2211 (toll-free).
Background information can be found at http://news.gov.mb.ca/asset_library/en/newslinks/2015/10/RLS-Human_Trafficking_Hotline_BG-JS-FS.doc.
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