The Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being
This paper provides a preview into new primary research into sexual exploitation and human sex trafficking in Canada. The project, for which interviewing is complete and analysis is now underway, is qualitative research taking a grounded, open-minded approach with an underlying hypothesis that better outcomes may be gleaned from systems of service providers and stakeholders through improved coordination and collaboration. Previous research on related topics has often overlooked key stakeholders including police, prosecutors, political, First Nations and other community leaders. This research casts a wider net, incorporating the voices of over 65 experts across Manitoba, including: experiential survivors of sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, police, social workers, Aboriginal leaders, and people working in numerous non-government organizations who work to prevent sexual exploitation and assist victims to escape the sex industry. The research was focused in Manitoba where women and children continue to be victimized in the sex industry despite having one of the most comprehensive and well-funded counter sexual exploitation strategies of any province in Canada. The questions asked of subjects were designed to highlight barriers and opportunities for improved collaboration, interdiction and response to prevent people from being exploited in the sex industry and help others to escape it. While the data is in the early stages of analysis, some strong themes are already apparent to the researcher. These themes suggest that there may be a significant correlation between vulnerability to sexual exploitation and poverty, lack of opportunities, familial environment and relationships, and resilience. Generally, people from all perspectives seem to be stressing that there needs to be better coordination of resources, and more education and awareness across society on this issue.