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Human trafficking

A new initiative to combat trafficking at major sporting even

Along with the Olympic Games and World Cup Football, Formula 1 is one of the most popular and most publicized sporting events. When it was held in Montreal in June 2012, the Montreal Anti-Trafficking Movement (MATM) took measures to heighten awareness in the hotel industry of human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The coalition is comprised of, among others, the Congrégation de Notre-Dame and ten or more religious congregations, the Montreal diocese and lay persons.

Inspired by the action taken by some Sisters in the United States with hotel managers in Indianapolis during the last Super Bowl, Phyllis Douillard, S.N.J.M., Sharon Di Frucia of the Montreal diocese, and Constance Létourneau of Groupe Solidarité Justice SNJM established a plan to reach the 167 hotels in Montreal. After a letter was sent to all hotel managers, they were contacted by telephone and, if interested, provided with documents and formation. Overall, thirty-seven hotels requested information on how to identify victims of human trafficking and nineteen accepted training from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. An important union, the CSN, supported the project and published an article on the topic. The MATM is delighted with the results of its action: “If we have saved at least one victim of trafficking, is it not a victory?”

Sisters Pierrette Boissé, Marilyn von Zuben and Jacqueline Gosselin visiting Montreal hotels to try to raise awareness. (Photos CND 2012)

Although slavery was officially abolished 150 years ago, it is still rife in our modern societies. The horrible phenomenon has simply taken on a new form: human trafficking, that is to say, the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons in view of exploiting them1. Trafficking surfaced in the early 70s, after the fall of the Iron Curtain and the emergence of globalization2. According to the latest estimates for 2002-2011 by the International Labour Organization (ILO), approximately 21 million people are victims of forced labour globally, trapped in jobs into which they were coerced or deceived and which they cannot leave3. Among these, 4.5 million are victims of sexual exploitation; 11.4 million are women and girls; 5.5 million are under 18 years of age4. Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of victims of trafficking for purposes of forced labour amount to US$ 31.6 billion5.

To date, the link between human trafficking and sporting events remains difficult to establish due to lack of sufficient quantitative data6. Nevertheless, several experts affirm that there is a definite connection between the two and prevention policies must take this into account7. In addition, as underlined by La Strada International, international sporting events provide ONGs and others involved in the fight against trafficking with a unique opportunity to raise awareness about this form of modern slavery by informing them about its profound causes and by teaching how to recognize its victims8.


1 Human trafficking means “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs….” (Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime), United Nations, 2000. Document available at http://www.uncjin.org/Documents/Conventions/dcatoc/final_documents_2/convention_%20traff_eng.pdf.

2 Ngalikpima, Matiada, Esclavage en Europe. La traite des êtres humains, mémoire pour le diplôme d’université de 3e cycle, Paris, February 2005. Document available at http://www.drmcc.org/IMG/pdf/MEMOIRE_​MA​TIA​DA_​NGA​LIKPIMA.pdf.

3 International Labour Organization, Global estimate of forced labour, June 2012, p. 1, Document available at http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---ed_norm/---declaration/documents/publication/wcms_​181953.pdf.

4 Ibid., p. 4. According to the ILO, human trafficking can also be considered forced labour: “Such situations can also amount to human trafficking or slavery-like practices, which are similar though not identical terms in a legal sense.”

5 European Commission, Communication From The Commission To The European Parliament, The Council, The European Economic And Social Committee And The Committee Of The Regions. The EU Strategy towards the Eradication of Trafficking in Human Beings 2012–2016, Brussels, June 2012, p. 2, note 3. Document available at: http://ec.europa.eu/home-affairs/doc_centre/crime/docs/traf​ficking_​in_​human_​beings_​eradi​cation-​2012_​2016_​en.pdf.

6 Bialik, Carl, “The Elusive Link Between Sex Trafficking and Sporting Events,” Wall Street Journal Blogs, June 18, 2010, http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/the-elusive-link-between-sex-trafficking-and-sporting-events-952/.

7 Gle Group, The 2012 Games and Human Trafficking, London Councils, January 2012. Document available at http://ec.europa.eu/anti-trafficking/entity.action;jses​sionid=​6prLNr​DR5h3H​r9MCvx​QRG73p​5kxT5Hk​CQ3pv9​LpjyGHc​MbHTfxWj!-​40372​8570?id=​52248a07-​a22c-​4bf7-​a6b5-​e6d857​9a7bdb.
Perrin, Benjamin, Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics, The Future Group, November 2007. Document available at: www.thefuturegroup.org.

8 La Strada International, Questions and answers on La Strada International’s Opinion on the FIFA World Cup 2010 and Human Trafficking. Document available at http://lastradainternational.org/?main=​documen​tation&​docu​ment=​2388.

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