Shedding light on a dark subject: sex trafficking

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

Human trafficking ranks as the second largest criminal industry in the world today. It has become an ever increasing global problem and only continues to worsen. The International Labor Organization 2012 report estimates there are 21 million victims of human trafficking. Of that number, 4.5 million are children and women exploited by the global commercial sex trade. Most Americans view the sex trade as more of an international issue and aren’t aware of its prevalence within U.S. borders. In fact, thousands of American women and children are trafficked in the U.S. commercial sex industry.

Washington’s international border with Canada, its many ports, rural areas and agricultural make the state prone to human trafficking. In 2003, Washington became the first state in the nation to enact legislation making human trafficking a crime. Seattle police and the U.S. Department of Justice see a trend of victims and pimps being sourced out of the state along the west coast track from Vancouver, B.C. to Seattle to Los Angeles. The Seattle area including Snohomish County has seen an increase in illegal internet activity (e.g. prostitution) as a result of human trafficking along the I-5 corridor.

Snohomish County has been a major part of several sex trafficking stings led by law enforcement agencies over recent months. Most recently, in September 2016, ten men were arrested in Operation Anvil and charged in Snohomish County for crimes including commercial sexual abuse of a minor, rape of a child, and attempted rape of a child. Operation Anvil garnered national media attention and was an eye-opening moment for viewers of any local news shows. There was a similar sting operation in February 2016 where six men were arrested and charged for similar crimes.

 

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The award-winning documentary, ‘The Long Night’ is raising sex trafficking awareness in the northwest. Tulalip Girls’ Group coordinator Sasha Smith, Chairman Mel Sheldon, and Tulalip News staff were among those invited to a special screening.

 

Further emphasis on the need for sex trafficking awareness in Snohomish County has rose from special screenings of the award-winning documentary, The Long Night, within the past month. Set in Seattle, The Long Night explores the crisis of minors who are coerced into the American sex trade. The film, by Tim Matsui, weaves the stories of seven individuals whose lives have been affected.

On Thursday, November 17, the League of Women Voters of Snohomish County arranged a screening of The Long Night at an Edmonds church. Tulalip Girls’ Group coordinator Sasha Smith, Chairman Mel Sheldon, and Tulalip News staff were among those invited.

Following the screening, Sheriff’s Department detective Joan Gwordske reviewed sex trafficking problems in Snohomish County and urged all community members to help raise awareness on sex trafficking in order to help prevent future incidents.

“Anybody in here have teenage daughters or granddaughters that go to high school in this area? What school?” Detective Gwordske posed this question to the audience. Hands went up and crowd members responded with several local high schools. “I have [sex trafficking] cases with girls in every single one of those schools and probably every other one that you can think of in Snohomish County,” she said.

Long-time community member and former Northwest Indian College (NWIC) professor, Karen Shoaf-Mitchell has made it a personal mission of hers to help raise awareness on sex trafficking.

“As former public school teacher of forty years, I realize how vulnerable teens can be. In June of 2014, the Washington State legislature mandated that all school districts have information about this crime on hand for its counselors, school nurses, health classes, PTAs, etc. Yet, it was an unfunded mandate, so I decided that I should do something,” explains Karen. “Therefore, I’ve given an informative presentation on sex trafficking to the Everett Public Library, to a World Problems class at Cascade High School in Everett, several times to the sovereignty class located at NWIC Tulalip, and now to the Tulalip Girls’ Group.”

Karen credits Tulalip for openly discussing subjects like abuse and exploitation in the tribal newspaper. She also points to former Board of Director Deborah Parker, who has spoken publicly about how she was taken advantage of, as another example of the Tulalip Tribes motivation to protect the most vulnerable, our children.

“[Sex trafficking] is a crime that is perpetrated upon the vulnerable and that outrages me,” continues Karen. “I presented to the Tulalip Girls’ Group a documentary about sex trafficking that shares stories from trafficking victims. Upon viewing the film, the girls had shocked and worried expressions on their faces. I shared that they could be vulnerable or their friends could be vulnerable to this manipulation by others. I also gave the girls cards from Dawson Place in Everett to put in their wallets with a phone number on it from D.P. to call if they ever needed help.”

“The girls and I were surprised that it is happening in our backyard,” says Girls’ Group coordinator Sasha Smith of their reaction to the sex trafficking presentation. “I had no idea that it was happening so close to home, thought it was something you only see in the movies. It was a good wake up call for myself and the members of Tulalip Girls’ Group.”

Sex trafficking is a very real problem in Snohomish County and our local communities. For better awareness and understanding of the issue please visit www.SharedHope.org for more information.

 

Contact Micheal Rio, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Native American populations ‘hugely at risk’ to sex trafficking

Sadie Young Bird, the director of the Ft. Berthold Coalition of Domestic Violence, listens during a breakout session during the 2014 statewide summit on human trafficking put on by North Dakota FUSE at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D. on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Sadie Young Bird, the director of the Ft. Berthold Coalition of Domestic Violence, listens during a breakout session during the 2014 statewide summit on human trafficking put on by North Dakota FUSE at the Bismarck Civic Center in Bismarck, N.D. on Thursday, November 13, 2014. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

 

By Amy Dalrymple and Katherine Lymn, Forum News Service, Bismarck Tribune

 

NEW TOWN, N.D. – As the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation reels from the impacts of producing a third of North Dakota’s oil, the reservation must add human trafficking to its list of increasing hazards.

“We’re in crisis mode, all the time, trying to figure out these new ways, these new crises that are coming to us that we never thought we’d have to worry about,” said Sadie Young Bird, director of the Fort Berthold Coalition Against Violence. “No one was prepared for any of this.”

The Three Affiliated Tribes are implementing a new tribal law designed to combat human trafficking at Fort Berthold.

“I’m really hoping to send a message that we are not tolerating this on our reservation,” said Chalsey Snyder, a tribal member who helped draft the law.

Meanwhile, victim advocates and leaders of tribal nations in neighboring Minnesota and South Dakota worry about reports of American Indian women and girls being trafficked to the Bakken.

Suzanne Koepplinger, former executive director for the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, said she started to hear anecdotal stories in 2010 and 2011 about a boyfriend or friend telling women and girls, “Let’s go to North Dakota over the weekend and make some money.”

“Because of poverty and high rates of mobility with Native people, it’s not unusual for them to go up to White Earth for a party and then say, ‘Let’s just buzz over to North Dakota and see a friend of mine,’ and then she’s gang-raped over there,” Koepplinger said.

Since 2010, Indian girls in Minnesota have reported to service providers that family members or friends have tried to talk them into going to North Dakota.

“Their girls go missing and then show up in the North Dakota child protection system, or are picked up by law enforcement in Williston, Minot,” Koepplinger said.

Erma Vizenor, chairman of the White Earth reservation in western Minnesota, said sex trafficking of women and girls has been a concern there for a long time, and the proximity of North Dakota’s oil boom adds to that concern.

The White Earth DOVE Program (Down On Violence Everyday) has identified 17 adult victims of sex trafficking last year, said Jodie Sunderland, community advocacy coordinator.

The DOVE program received funding through the Minnesota Safe Harbor law and is connecting Indian youth who are victims of sexual exploitation with services. The efforts will include collaborations with Red Lake and Leech Lake reservations in northwest Minnesota.

The vulnerability of Indian populations to become victims of sex trafficking, particularly at Fort Berthold with the impacts of the oil boom, is a major concern, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said.

“The grooming of the candidate for trafficking tends to go to lower income, tends to go to kids who’ve been victimized in the past, so automatically that puts them in a category that is hugely at risk,” Heitkamp said during a discussion hosted by the McCain Institute for International Leadership and moderated by Cindy McCain.

Mark Fox, recently elected chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said he hears concerns about human trafficking at Fort Berthold from law enforcement and social services. He’s also noticed it himself.

“You can’t help but sometimes, walking around the casino, you see individuals who would be highly suspect,” Fox said.

Young Bird, whose program has seen a significant increase in domestic violence victims, has assisted some sex trafficking victims, although the women and girls don’t usually identify themselves as victims. Some have returned to South Dakota reservations, she said.

“We see that most of the human trafficking victims want to leave, they just want to get out, they want to go back to where they came from, they want to go back somewhere safe,” Young Bird said.

The domestic violence program, which has a new shelter in Mandaree and a new safe house elsewhere in the Bakken, primarily serves Indian women, but also will serve non-tribal members.

A meth epidemic on the reservation contributes to the violence Young Bird sees, including more severe sexual assaults.

“You can tell when there’s no meth around and you can tell when there’s a new shipment of meth around. The severity is worse when the meth is gone,” Young Bird said. “When the new shipment comes, it’s more that they head out and they leave and they leave their family with nothing. They spend all the money. Then when the wife is asking for money, that’s when the violence occurs.”

Heroin is a major problem for the reservation, too, she said. In one sex trafficking case, the pimp kept the woman compliant using heroin, Young Bird said. The woman did not want to press charges.

“They all want to leave. They don’t want to stay around. And we can’t force them. We’re the advocates; we’re not law enforcement. We’re there to support people,” she said.

A recent law change will allow the tribal court to prosecute human trafficking cases that don’t rise to the level of being charged in U.S. District Court.

“This law allows our reservation to take back ownership and take back the prosecution and penalties,” Snyder said.

The law is called Loren’s Law in memory of Loren White Horne, a behavioral health specialist from Fort Berthold who used to deal with sexual abuse and sexual assault cases on the reservation. White Horne was a driving force behind raising awareness about trafficking and working toward a new law before she died in a vehicle accident in 2013, said Snyder, who continued her work.

The law also requires defendants to pay for any expenses incurred by the victim, such as drug abuse treatment.

“These victims can seek help and they can get help without having to worry about any financial obligations,” Snyder said, if the convicted trafficker has resources or such resources were seized.

Statistics show that minorities represent a disproportionate amount of sex trafficking victims.

That has been true in South Dakota, where the U.S. Attorney’s Office has prosecuted sex trafficking cases involving several dozen victims. About half of those victims were American Indian women and girls.

In most cases, the victimization did not occur on the reservations, but in Sioux Falls and other larger cities.

“Most often, it is girls and some women who come from the reservation to Sioux Falls,” said. U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson. “When they are here, if they’re coming without a lot of resources, they’re often targeted by these guys.”

Native Americans key to border security success

By Chuck Brooks, Contributor, The Hill

According to the most recent stats from the Pew Research Center, 11.7 million illegal aliens resided in the United States as of March 2012. To put that into perspective, there are 46 states that have a population less than 11.7 million. Fox News reported that from October 2013 to the end of May 2014, 162,000 people from countries other than Mexico have entered the U.S. across the southern border and 52,000 were unaccompanied children. This is approximately a 100 percent increase from the previous year and it is estimated that 150,000 minors might attempt to cross the border next year.

For this reason, illegal immigration, which has ties to drug smuggling and human trafficking, is continuing to get a lot of attention. In fact, according to Gallup, Americans recently cited immigration as the No. 1 issue in the U.S.; ahead of dissatisfaction with government, the general economy, unemployment/jobs and healthcare.

The cost of ignoring the problem and leaving our borders vulnerable is one that we cannot risk. The White House is unable to handle the growing issue and asked for $3.7 billion in emergency funding. Furthermore, thousands of troopers are being deployed to help protect our borders.While I believe that additional security funding is necessary, I also think there is a group that can help immensely and they should not be ignored: Native Americans.Gary Edwards, CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association, states that there are 25 tribal reservations located on and/or across the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and 41 tribal reservations are within 100 miles of those international U.S. borders. Since Native Americans are around a large part of our borders, they are, and should continue to be, a part of our border security initiatives.

Cooperation between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Native Americans has already played a significant role in our boarder security, especially in remote areas where drug smugglers and citizens try to enter the U.S. illegally. Today, more than 22,000 Native Americans serve in the Armed Forces and have the highest per capita serving in the military of any ethnic group protecting the homeland.

Additionally, the “Shadow Wolves” are Native American trackers who are part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since 1972, the Shadow Wolves have been tracking aliens and drug smugglers attempting to cross the border by looking for footprints, tire tracks, items snagged on branches, bent or broken twigs or even a single fiber of cloth. Their patrol area covers 2.8 million acres and officers estimate that recently they have seized an average of 60,000 pounds of illegal drugs a year.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the DHS need to remember the dedication, skill set and strategic geographical intelligence that Native Americans bring to the mix. In order to create a lasting relationship that utilizes their knowledge and aptitude, tribes must have complete access to intelligence and information pertinent to border security. This is something that the government needs to ensure because uninformed tribes will not be useful when protecting the homeland.

Brooks serves as vice president/client executive for DHS at Xerox. He served in government at the DHS as the first director of legislative affairs for the science & technology directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and was adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught homeland security and Congress. Brooks has an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in political science from DePauw University. He is widely published on the subjects of innovation, public/private partnerships, emerging technologies and issues of cybersecurity. He can be followed on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks.

Firsthand Account Of Man Camp In North Dakota From Local Tribal Cop

By Damon Buckley, Lakota Country Times

 

 

Grace Her Many Horses has dedicated many years of her life to law enforcement. After this article was published she was removed from her position at Rosebud and has since returned to work on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Article is reprinted with permission from The Sicangu Eyapaha (Rosebud Sioux) tribal newspaper.

Grace Her Many Horses has dedicated many years of her life to law enforcement. After this article was published she was removed from her position at Rosebud and has since returned to work on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Article is reprinted with permission from The Sicangu Eyapaha (Rosebud Sioux) tribal newspaper.

ROSEBUD, SD – Former Rosebud Sioux Tribe Police Chief Grace Her Many Horses took a temporary job working in the Bakken Region near Newtown, North Dakota. This Bakken Basin stretches from Montana to North Dakota and it is rich in shale oil supplies. She began work in June of last year until October of the same year. It was her first experience with Man Camps. She seen them before while driving past on the way to pow-wows but this was going to be the very first time she would enter the premises and work the area as a law enforcement officer. This seasoned professional would be in for a rude surprise.

“When I first got there some of the things they talked about, in any of these areas, was they told the men ‘Don’t go out and party. Don’t get drunk and pass out. Because you’re going to get raped,” she said without hesitation.

It’s not exactly something you would expect to hear from a workers’ camp but these places are not exactly your ordinary laborers’ camps. The depth of depravity and dubious behavior are commonplace in these so-called Man Camps. No one will say that all of the inhabitants are criminal but there is definitely an element there that has rocked the local law enforcement officials to the very core of their morals and value systems.

There are identifiable variables that remain constant: These oil workers usually come from desperate conditions. These workers usually have a family they have left elsewhere so they are not looking to start new relations. These workers are paid an excessive amount of money. These workers are well aware their employment is only temporary. These workers know they are living in a remote environment where law enforcement is already stretched beyond its limits and the temptation for criminal behavior is very strong. Unfortunately, most of America still cannot comprehend this information.

“Sexual assaults on the male population has increased by 75% in that area,” she continued. That kind of statistic makes maximum security prisons look like the minor league. “One of the things we ran into while working up there was a 15 year old boy had gone missing. He was found in one of the Man Camps with one of the oil workers. They were passing him around from trailer to trailer.”

He went there looking for a job and was hired by individuals within the Man Camp to do light cleaning in and around their personal areas. The young teenager was forced into sex slavery. It’s the kind of thing you hear about in the ghettos of third world countries; not in the quiet and remote countryside.

The victims aren’t just males but females too. Everyone has heard by now of the missing school teacher that was kidnapped as she was out jogging, repeatedly sexually assaulted, and murdered near one of these Man Camps. The age of the Man Camp victims varies. The assailants are not necessarily looking for male and female adults. They are also going after little girls.

Grace Her Many Horse recalls one specific instance where “We found a crying, naked, four year old girl running down one of the roads right outside of the Man Camp. She had been sexually assaulted.”

There has been a significant rise in prostitution, gambling, and organized crime in these Man Camps too. The oil workers enjoy being compensated at salaries far above that of the average American blue collar worker. So when their paydays come around the predators venture out of the camps and into nearby towns and places a little further down the road. They usually move in caravans of workers with large amounts of cash stuffed into their pockets. Their large payoffs give them the buying power to obtain anything they can think of including prostitutes and hardcore drugs that have never been seen in these towns before. It has a devastating effect on the local small towns.

This former tribal police chief’s first experience talking with prostitutes that cater to Man Camps came here on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. She pulled over two vans heading out of town. They were filled with female passengers, again, of varying ages. They were heading in the direction of the Man Camps. One of the brazen occupants declared outright to this officer, “Well, you know why we are going up there.” It’s not something you would expect to hear from a woman but these passengers were determined to make it to their destination one way or another.

After taking a long breath followed by a sigh Officer Her Many Horse said, “That small tribal town has been through so much. When you go into to their casino around 11 at night you notice the flavor of the patrons has dramatically changed for the worse.” She speaks of her short time policing those camps and admits it was easy to notice how hard drugs and prostitution had increased dramatically.

She spoke with local Indians that said they used to frequent their casino but they stopped. Things had changed so much that a large number of locals dare not venture outside at night. There are strangers everywhere. Again, this is coming from a small town where most of its population is Native American and everyone had known each other’s first names and origin. Now it is hardly recognizable. Businesses were forced to open only to be shuttered later. Trash and debris has increased. Violence of all types has surged and the beauty of the land has been replaced with heavy construction vehicles and the destruction of lands once referred to as God’s Country. The traffic on local highways has increased significantly as well as the number of traffic accidents and its numerous victims that can no longer speak for themselves. Life goes on in these small Indian towns but it is a life that is bitter and strange.

Meth has been seen as having destructive effects on Indian communities before but now there are new drugs filtering onto Indian reservations from these Man Camps. “There is a new drug called Crocus. When you ingest it your skin boils from the inside-out. It leaves you with permanent scars on the surface of your skin that resembles the scales of a crocodile. It will literally eat your feet off, eat your limbs off. It’s horrible. That’s been introduced up there and it is more addictive than heroin. The drug trade is rampant up there.” She explains how the police department near that particular Man Camp is smaller than the one here in Rosebud. “They need help,” she confesses.

There are oil workers there that can’t even speak English. The sex offenders are very prevalent. “We found thirteen sex offenders in one Man Camp and that Man Camp is found directly behind the tribal casino. Our supervisors would tell us “Watch your kids. Don’t let them run through there.” Making matters worse was the fact that Grace Her Many Horses moved up there with her two young daughters ages ten and fourteen. Living in those conditions and having to worry about the safety of her children must have added years to her life. After the need for workers ends the small town is left with its eye sore oil pipeline, businesses will go bust, the introduction of these new hardcore drugs will linger on, and its shocked residents will be left to contemplate their decision for the oil pipeline in years to come.

The most startling time Grace Her Many Horses spent at the Man Camps was when her police force had to serve warrants on some of the workers and remove them from their dwellings. She and her co-workers took things very serious, suited up in full SWAT gear, went through extra-ordinary measures to could conduct their raids, and to protect themselves from harm.

“It was scary. I never had to do that before in my many years of service. I feel really bad for the local residents because the flavor of their [Indian] reservation has changed so much,” she admits.

It leads the common Rosebud resident to ask if we have enough police officers to cover the proposed Man Camp being built nearby the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. She was not hesitant to argue: “No we do not have enough members on the police force. We barely have enough people to cover our [Indian] reservation right now. If you were around for the first week of January we had a double-homicide, we had unattended deaths, we had shootings, we had a major car accident, and that’s just in one week. We were so busy here at the [police] station. My whole department worked thirty hours straight. I told those guys to go home, get showered, and come back to work. That’s not even taking care of our outlying communities. This tribal police department isn’t equipped to handle what’s going to happen out there when the Man Camp arrives. The infrastructure of the towns on this Indian reservation will be forced to expand then months later it will collapse onto itself. Because I’ve witnessed it doing just that… what I am saying up there in Newtown, ND. It’s going to be really scary. Realistically speaking, we’re going to need to setup a substation for the area nearest to the Man Camp, and we got have people on call 24 hours a day there too. I don’t know how we are going to deal with that just yet. We are overwhelmed as is stands right now. Once the Man Camp moves in…” Basically, it’s not a future everyone wants to see.

 

 

Native American women are being sold into the Sex Trade on ships along Lake Superior

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Apparently the women are sold for “parties” on American ships. Picture via WikiCommons

August  26, 2013

By Dave Dean

Native women, children, and even babies are being trafficked in the sex trade on freighters crossing the Canada-US border on Lake Superior between Thunder Bay, Ontario, and Duluth, Minnesota.

Next month, Christine Stark—a student with the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who is completing her master’s degree in social work—will complete an examination of the sex trade in Minnesota, in which she compiles anecdotal, firsthand accounts of Native women, particularly from northern reservations, being trafficked across state, provincial, and international lines to be forced into servitude in the sex industry on both sides of the border.

Stark’s paper stems from a report she co-wrote, published by the Indian Women’s Sexual AssaultCoalition in Duluth in 2011, entitled, “The Garden of Truth: The Prostitution and Trafficking of Native Women in Minnesota.” Through the process of researching and writing this report, Stark kept hearing stories of trafficking in the harbors and on the freighters of Duluth and Thunder Bay. The numerous stories and the gradual realization that this was an issue decades, perhaps centuries, in the making, compelled Stark to delve further into what exactly was taking place.

She decided to conduct an exploratory study, “simply because we have these stories circulating and we wanted to gather information and begin to understand what has happened and what currently is happening around the trafficking of Native American and First Nations women on the ships” said Stark, in an interview with the CBC Radio show Superior Morning. “Hearing from so many Native women over generations talking about the ‘boat whores,’ prostitution on the ships or the ‘parties on the ships,’ this is something that… was really entrenched in the Native community and we wanted to collect more specific information about it.”

Through her independent research and work with the Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition, Stark interviewed hundreds of Native women who have been through the trauma of the Lake Superior sex trade. The stories she’s compiled are evidence of an underground industry that’s thriving on the suffering of First Nations women, which is seemingly going unchecked and underreported.

In an article written for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Stark describes one disturbing anecdote of an Anishinaabe woman who had just left a shelter after being beaten by her pimp—who was a wealthy, white family man. He paid her bills, rent, and the essentials for her children, but on weekends, “brought up other white men from the cities for prostitution with Native women… he had her role play the racist ‘Indian maiden and European colonizer’ myth with him during sex.”

“The Duluth harbor is notorious among Native people as a site for the trafficking of Native women from northern reservations.” She continues, “in an ongoing project focused on the trafficking of Native women on ships in Duluth, it was found that the activity includes international transport of Native women and teens, including First Nations women and girls brought down from Thunder Bay, Ontario, to be sold on the ships… Native women, teen girls and boys, and even babies have been sold for sex on the ships.” Christine Stark’s complete research paper will be published in September.

The fact that these horrendous crimes are taking place right under the noses of North American authorities is obviously disturbing and somewhat surprising, considering we have a Conservative government that is oh-so-tough on the commercialization of human beings. However, the word trafficking can often be a blurry one.

I spoke with Kazia Pickard, the Director of Policy and Research with the Ontario Native Women’s Association based in Thunder Bay. Their organization has also been researching this issue. Kazia told me over email: “People assume that trafficking always takes place across international borders, however, the vast majority of people who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls from inside Canada and sometimes, as we’re now starting to understand, across the US border.”

In an earlier interview with the CBC, she also alluded to the possibility that there was trafficking taking place across borders in Southern Ontario as well. She made it clear to me that the image most people imagine when they think about “human trafficking” often isn’t accurate: “The majority of women who are trafficked in Canada are indigenous women and girls. So it’s not that you have people being trafficked across international borders in shipping containers or something like that.”

In most cases it’s a lot more subtle. “Women may say they [have been pulled into it by] a boyfriend, there have been some reports of family members recruiting women into the sex trade… so it doesn’t appear in this sensationalized way that we may [think it is].”

All that said, there are nearly 600 aboriginal women who are currently missing or believed to have been murdered in Canada, a number the RCMP—who are being accused of human rights abuses against aboriginal women on a monthly basishave publicly questioned.

And while it’s refreshing to hear Canadian Parliament members (particularly Conservative ones) such as Manitoba’s Joy Smith show some honest compassion, on the whole, the government’s attitude and response to protecting vulnerable Native women has been one of indifference. In July, the federal government dismissed calls made for an inquiry into missing or murdered Indian women by the provinces and territories’ premiers.

Christine Stark’s report is one that cannot be ignored. If the government is as serious as they claim to be about human trafficking, they can’t dismiss what’s taking place between Duluth and Thunder Bay the same way that they have regarding the 600 missing First Nations women. To ignore this issue would point to an obvious double standard when it comes to the treatment of Indian women, many of whom are clearly being taken advantage of.

 

Follow Dave on Twitter: @ddner