Modern day slavery and the sex industry: raising the voices of survivors and collaborators while confronting sex trafficking and exploitation in Manitoba, Canada
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Sexual exploitation and human sex trafficking are a multi-billion-dollar international industry in which many Canadian women and children are trafficked and exploited, hurt and sometimes murdered by predators. Previous studies have often overlooked significant voices including police, political leaders and prosecutors who also work to protect sex industry survivors. This research widens the net and includes interviews with 61 experts across Manitoba, including police, First Nations and other political leaders, government and non-government service providers and sex trafficking survivors, who collectively represent over 1,000 years of experience combatting victimization in the sex industry. Through a grounded approach, this study gathers the stories and experiences of survivors, relevant practitioners and community leaders in Manitoba, and contributes to theory and practice around reducing sex trafficking and exploitation. The findings include the following: (1) Early risk factors for youth may be identified and addressed to reduce vulnerability to being trafficked and exploited; (2) More flexible ongoing supports can empower sex industry survivors and assist them to escape sex slavery; (3) Greater coordination and collaboration are needed between the broad spectrum of enforcement and support agencies; (4) New resources, such as more and better equipped safe houses and local and regional coordination hubs can provide a safety net for people who are being exploited in the sex industry; (5) Increased counter-exploitation education can potentially improve youth resilience and affect the public discourse around the issue.