Two females were sold dream of love, money for sex work
Amara McLaughlin, CTV News Toronto
Published Friday, April 28, 2017 6:05PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 2, 2017 12:08PM EDT
Karly, whose identity has been concealed, was 15-years-old when she started working in the sex trade.
“At that time, when I was a teenager, I never got money in return for sex. It was always drugs,” she said.
Olivia, whose name has also been changed to protect her identity, was 21-years-old when she started selling sex.
“I met a guy who I actually went to school with, I went to high school with him,” Olivia said. “We began dating and he basically groomed me for the sex trade.”
‘It’s almost like there’s a fence around your brain’
Both women were tricked into the sex trade by men who sold them a dream of money, love and security, who eventually became their pimps, they told CTV News Toronto.
“I wanted to have this loving family of my own one day and he basically sold me on that,” she added. “So I thought if I agreed to do this, we could have that life one day.”
Every day, thousands of teenagers and young women are being sold for sex in hotels and motels across the Greater Toronto Area, in what Toronto police say is one of the fastest growing crimes in the province – human trafficking.
Many victims are as young as 12, said Karyn Kennedy, president and CEO at Boost Child and Youth Advocacy Centre.
“It’s shocking to see so many that are that age and that are getting involved in something like this at such a young age,” said Kennedy.
Some of the girls are physically abused, beaten by pimps, and too scared to leave.
“It’s almost like there’s a fence around your brain,” Karly said. “I’m not physically locked in a room, but where am I going to go?”
These young women and girls are forced to have sex for money, sometimes several times a day, and then hand over all their cash to a pimp they are brainwashed into believing loves them.
Olivia worked every day over the two years she was trafficked. She says there were thousands of clients.
Detectives say the crime is growing because human trafficking is so lucrative. One sex-trade worker can earn more than $250,000 a year, but they don’t get to keep any of it because all the earnings go to their pimp.
“Even though I wasn’t keeping that money myself, I thought it was my money. I thought it was our money,” Olivia said.
The Internet has also changed how these women were trafficked. According to police, their services were advertised on the classified website, backpage.com, in Toronto’s “escort” section.
Most human trafficking victims are younger than 16, police say
Yesterday, CTV News Toronto revealed a three year undercover child sex trafficking sting aimed at catching men who pay to have sex with underage girls and the people responsible for trafficking them.
This involves rescuing victims, identifying and charging those who traffic children; and identifying and charging those who attempted to purchase sex with children.
“The problem is if we didn’t have a demand, we wouldn’t have to have a supply,” said Toronto Police Det. Sgt. Nunziato Tramontozzi.
During operation “John2,” Toronto police have helped around 200 victims of human trafficking escape their pimps.
Investigators say more than 60 per cent of these victims were 16 or younger.
‘They helped me’
Karly was one of the victims they found working in a hotel room. She says victim services and other agencies helped her get back on her feet.
“They took me to the hospital,” she said. “They helped me get into temporary housing that was safe.
Both Karly and Olivia work for East Metro Youth Services in Scarborough, helping girls and young women escape prostitution.
“I just hope I can let people know they’re not alone, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, this was done to you by someone else and it’s not your fault,” Olivia said.
With files from Tracy Tong