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The Women's Centre of Halton shines a light on sex trafficking

Saturday, November 25th ushered in the United Nations 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence. Now in its fifth year, the UNiTE Orange the World Campaign launches on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on Sunday, December 10th International Human Rights Day.

This year’s theme, “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls,” reinforces the UNiTE Campaign’s commitment to a world free from violence for all women and girls around the world, starting with the most underserved and marginalized.

Supporters of the UNiTE campaign will don their favourite orange outfits while buildings and significant structures around the world will shine orange every night signalling a brighter future free from gendered violence.

This year, The Women’s Centre of Halton (TWCH) is once again partnering with Grandmothers Advocacy Network (GRAN) for an evening of film and discussion shining the light on sex trafficking. 

Three short films will set the stage for what should be a lively discussion.

Catcalling draws attention to street harassment and highlights the vulnerability of women in public spaces. Unfortunately, this all too common form of sexual violence is often considered just a normal part of life.

Stop Sex trafficking in Ontario with Covenant House exposes the truth that sex trafficking is happening right here at home and could even involve the girl next door.

I Survived Human Trafficking in Johannesburg explores sex trafficking from a global perspective and reminds us that what affects one of us affects all of us.

According to Martha Barragan, Executive Director of TWCH, "We are tying in both worlds. Highlighting the theme of UNiTE and coming together as a sisterhood to end all forms of violence. The goal is to raise awareness while creating a safe space for folks to engage in some heavy discussions on otherwise taboo topics."

To that end, Alma Aguello, Executive Director of Sexual Assault and Violence Intervention Services (SAVIS), will explain the history and prevalence of sex trafficking in our community and share some of the work her agency has undertaken. Constable Joy Brown, Halton Regional Police, will discuss the current situation in Canada and the role law enforcement plays. 

TWCH is considered a secondary support for women who have been trafficked. Women referred by partner agencies receive immediate self-care resources as well as advocacy navigating various systems. TWCH also offers crisis counselling, danger and risk assessments, along with safety planning. TWCH currently sits on the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee to Halton Regional Police.

GRAN's priorities include supporting African grandmothers caring for their orphaned grandchildren by ensuring access to affordable medicines, improving access to education, and ending violence against women and girls. GRAN recognizes sex trafficking in Africa is an enormous problem and acknowledges that marginalized grandchildren are at greater risk of being trafficked.

As Barragan observes, "The UNiTE campaign is so important because we don't just want to focus on our own issues, but rather the global sisterhood and what women centres around the world are doing to promote this unity."

Clearly, Canadian feminist and politician Rosemary Brown was visionary when she so wisely said, “Until all of us have made it, none of us have made it." That’s why we can leave no woman or girl behind.

More information about this event can be found here.

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