The federal government is shining a spotlight on human trafficking and campus safety for female students in announcing its support for an international campaign to help end violence against women.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is a worldwide campaign spanning 4,100 organizations in 172 countries that aims to raise awareness about the multiple forms of violence women face.
Status of Women Minister Rona Ambrose said the government’s support for the campaign is part of its recent $25-million National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons, a comprehensive blueprint to curb human trafficking.
“Our Government recognizes the need for Canadians to come together and take action that reduces and prevents the incidence of trafficking of women and girls,” Ambrose said in a press release calling on Canadians to join the campaign.
Ambrose also announced $4 million for projects that address a wide range of issues related to violence against female students on Canadian campuses, such as sexual assault and harassment.
The annual campaign launches every November 25 to coincide with the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and ends December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to emphasize that violence against women and girls is a human rights violation.
Ambrose said 98 percent of human trafficking victims in Canada are women and girls and the forms of abuse and risk associated with trafficking include physical, sexual, and psychological abuse, social manipulation, economic exploitation, legal insecurity, and abusive working and living conditions.
The government has called human trafficking in Canada a “national problem,” whose victims are both Canadians and newcomers. Economically disadvantaged groups are common targets of traffickers, particularly aboriginal women and girls.
According to the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, organized crime networks are actively trafficking Canadian-born women and under-age girls across the country, and in some instances to the United States, destined for the sex trade.
To date, human trafficking charges have been laid in 23 cases in Canada in which the accused have been convicted of human trafficking or other related offences. Approximately 59 cases involving of human trafficking offences remain before the courts. These cases involve a total of 147 victims.
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence was first sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.
The campaign focuses on raising awareness about gender-based violence at all levels while strengthening local work, linking local and global work, providing a forum for dialogue and strategy-sharing, and pressuring governments to implement commitments made to address gender-based violence.
This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates, including International Women Human Rights Defenders Day on Nov 29, World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, and the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre on Dec. 6.
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