Vulnerability to Human Trafficking

Vulnerabilities are created not because of choices individuals make in their lives, but because of their social locations and identities. Vulnerabilities arise from the intersection of gender, race, class, poverty, age, isolation, abuse and other factors, and are higher for women and girls and for Aboriginal/First Nations Women and Racialized Women.

Traffickers look for people who are vulnerable and therefore easier to exploit. Here are some examples of vulnerabilities that create the conditions that lead to human trafficking:

  • political instability
  • poverty
  • gender inequality
  • addictions
  • systemic racism
  • inadequate educational and employment opportunities

Vulnerability of Women

Women experience a higher vulnerability to trafficking because they make up a disproportionate number of those who are poor, and they are often portrayed as objects of sexual gratification.

Misogynistic cultural stereotypes of women as ‘less worthy’ and suitable for labour-intensive low paid ‘woman-oriented’ jobs are factors exacerbating the risk for women generally to human trafficking.

Women experience:

  • Feminization of poverty: women represent disproportionate percentage of the poor
  • Inadequate educational and employment opportunities: confinement of women’s labour in the domestic and entertainment spheres and in the informal sector
  • Racial discrimination: the risk faced by women is heightened and experienced differently for those women more vulnerable due to intersecting vulnerabilities based on race, ethnic origin and religion
  • Feminization of international migration
  • Commodification of women’s bodies and the commercialization of sex

Vulnerability of Aboriginal Women

Aboriginal peoples in Canada suffer living conditions that rank far below those of Canadians. These conditions, particular poverty, lack of employment options and inadequate housing, create vulnerable situations for Aboriginal women/girls:

  • Poverty affects 60 per cent of aboriginal children.
  • In 2005, the unemployment rate of Canada’s western provinces of Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan was as high as 13.6 per cent among indigenous people, but only 5.3 per cent among the non-indigenous population
  • Cases of tuberculosis are six times higher than the rest of Canada.
  • Life expectancy among the Inuit is 10 years lower than the rest of Canada.
  • 55% live in communities where half of the houses are inadequate or sub-standard, manifested in deteriorated units, toxic mould, lack of heating and insulation, and leaking pipes (UN 2009).

Vulnerability of Temporary Foreign Workers

Field Workers
In the past decade, the federal government expanded the Temporary Foreign Workers Program without simultaneously implementing controls to protect those workers. Instances of exploitation and abuse are difficult to address because employers have the power to terminate and deport foreign workers.