Inuit Victims of Sexual Exploitation and Human Trafficking in Nunavut
Executive Summary written by Madeleine Redfern, Ajungi Arctic Consulting, February 2014
In Canada and in Nunavut, under s.279.01 of the Criminal Code, it is crime if a person has recruited, transported, transferred, received, held, concealed, or harboured a person, or exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of the person, and did any one of these acts and methods for the purpose of exploiting the person or facilitated their exploitation.
Since the report focuses on sexual exploitation and human trafficking, it is important that people have a clear understanding of what the terms and associated actions are to fully appreciate the report findings.
exploitation of a person sexually, to offer to provide, sexual activities or services through coercion, threats, deception, or abuse of a position of trust or authority. Sex is exchanged for cash or other things, such as food, shelter, drugs, alcohol, protection or other basic necessities of life.
to lure, recruit, confine, transport a person for the purpose of forced labour, sex work or organ trafficking. The offender can be anyone, from a family member, friend, boyfriend/husband, individual affiliated with a gang or a criminal organization.
There is evidence that some Inuit women and youth have been or are being sexually exploited and subjected to human trafficking, both in Nunavut and in the south. Sexual exploitation is a highly hidden criminal activity and chronically underreported to police. Given the nature of these crimes, the majority of victims and survivors, are extremely vulnerable and fear retaliation, rejection, embarrassment, shaming and humiliation if they report crimes to police or by their family, friends and community.
Most at Risk
The majority of survivors experienced sexual abuse in their childhood, often “brought into the trade” by a family member, boyfriend or “friend”. Pauktuutit’s
No More Secrets Report
, 1991, stated that the average age of a victim is 9.7 years old with the average age of the violate is 29 years of age. Thirty-one percent (31%) of Qanuippitali Inuit Health Survey (Nunavut) 2012, respondents experienced
several physical abuse as children
. Many survivors did not know their body or sexuality was theirs to control or that they have rights over their own body. Women, youth and children (girls and boys) most at risk are between the ages of 14 (or younger) to 30 years of age, experienced sexual abuse as children, living in poverty, low self esteem, issues with substance use/abuse, may have grown up in foster care or unstable/dysfunctional home environment and seek security, affection and love. In Nunavut, given the lack of housing, overcrowding in many homes, poverty, historical trauma, lack of systemic supports, there are very few options for vulnerable, marginalized and desperate individuals. It is important to note that simply being vulnerable does not automatically mean that persons have been or will be sexually exploited or participated in exploitation. However, such