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Battling Human Trafficking in our own backyard

KAWARTHA LAKES-When Timea Nagy asked the audience how many of them felt that they may have given the wrong speech,  at the wrong time to the wrong girl, Constable Ryan Boutin and a number of others raised their hand.

Boutin is one of about 160 stakeholders taking part in a two day Anti-Human Trafficking seminar in Lindsay. Nagy was the keynote speaker and a survivor of human trafficking. She told the crowd about the various stages a survivor goes through and that there’s a certain “speech” police and victims advocates should use at different stages in order to be successful in rescuing vicitms. It cycles from the honeymoon stage where everything is great to the low stage where the chance of a rescue increases. “You need to know where they are in the game,” Nagy told the crowd. “Where their mind set is and according to that is how you approach them. If she’s at the low stage this usually takes months or years depending, that’s when you go and make the rescue speech.

City of Kawartha Lakes Police Const. Ryan Boutin says girls as young as 13 have been rescued and the victims are often moved all across the country to work. “The issue with human trafficking is it’s a Canada wide problem, an Ontario problem and a Lindsay problem”

Nagy was forced into the sex trade shortly after immigrating to Canada from Hungary in 1998. She came to Canada in the hopes of fulfilling a summer position as a housekeeper or nanny and earning a little extra income instead she says she was kidnapped, controlled, and kept under horrible conditions and was forced to work in the sex trade in Toronto and surrounding areas for 3 months until one day she miraculously escaped her captors.

She now travels across the country sharing her story. “She provided a first hand perspective of what a victim of human trafficking experiences through the process of being recruited, what her first contact with police is like and how she feels through the court process,” Const. Boutin told Kawartha 411.  “It was an insightful and eye opening view which will ultimately allow all of the community stakeholders in the room to do their jobs  more effectively and provide better support to victims.”

Since December 2016, eight girls from the Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton have been rescued from human trafficking by the new Human Trafficking Unit set up within the Victim Quick Response Program in Lindsay.

They are trafficked from local hotels, homes and even the side of the road. Laura Proctor, Executive Director, Haliburton Kawartha Lakes Victim Services says the program received one time funding of $18,000 that allowed them to hire a part time victim advocate who focuses solely on human trafficking. “We work with our police and justice system counterparts to provide emergency exit bags, we call them “go bags” we provide shelter, arrange for emergency transportation” But the new, dedicated unit allows them to do a lot more for survivors. “We can access $10,000 worth of residential treatment, $2000 counselling for the victim and their families, $2000 for crime scene clean up if for example the pimp has tagged (spray painted) their car etc.” They can also now provide $2000 for dental care and $2000 for tattoo removal. She says most of the victims have been “branded” with tattoos so that other pimps know this girl is already “owned.”

Nagy works with Anti-Human Trafficking agencies across the province. She says survivors are brainwashed. “We had a 16 year old out of Durham Region, she was taken, gang raped, unfortunately the whole text book story,  she eventually started to live with him just on the weekends in York region,” Nagy told the crowd.  “He worked her all weekend and then she came home during the week. So we knew we had to meet with her while she was home.” Nagy says the young girl was so brainwashed she wanted nothing to do with her family.  “She couldn’t wait for the weekend to come. They were in one specific motel all the time and that’s where they had their “honeymoon” in motels, specifically Motel 6.”

He eventually was arrested and Nagy says the girl was still in the “honeymoon” stage. Police went to look for her and she was nowhere to be found. The officers called Nagy and asked where the victim might be. “I said, do you have a specific room where they used to work out of?  He goes ya, I said go back to her story in the statement and find out which motel, which room they used to stay at during their “honeymoon” and go back and she’s  going to be there.” And she was there, sitting on the bed crying. “She just wanted to be in the same place she used to be with him because that was her only connection to him, it like when a loved one dies.”

Members of police services throughout Ontario, including Kawartha Lakes and Peterborough recently took part in Operation Spotlight and were able to ensure the safety of 6 people who had been working in the sex trade and were in exploitive situations, including 2 under the age of 16. One person was resuced locally. Additionally, 12 people were charged with 21 offences as part of a coordinated, national effort to end human trafficking. Const. Boutin says, “This was the first year we reached out to local women and it is something that we hope to build upon and continue in the future.”

A before and after photo of Nagy shows the mental and physical toll Human Trafficking can take on a survivor. “So what if I tell you I never drank a sip of alcohol or did any drugs.(in the after photo) Nothing, this is trauma.” Nagy said of the stark difference in her appearance. She weighed only 89 pounds and had to wear clothing from when she was 12 years old.

Someone asked Nagy how you convince a girl to leave that lifestyle. “You dont’ you assess them, the stage they are at and according to that you figure it out.”

Nagy will be speaking at a free event for the public in the library at LCVI at 260 Kent Street West in Lindsay Thursday October 26th from 7-9 p.m.  You can hear her story and there will be information provided to help parents recognize the signs of human trafficking and how to combat it.

As a result of her experiences Nagy founded the independent organization known as Walk With Me. Walk With Me is a community based organization established by a survivor of human trafficking to rescue and restore the dignity, freedom and well being of human trafficked victims, by providing distinctive, coordinated and comprehensive immediate victim services in Ontario according to the website. Click here for more information:http://www.walk-with-me.org/timea-nagy-founder.html

 

 

 

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Pamela Vanmeerhttps://www.kawartha411.ca/
Pamela VanMeer is a two time winner of the prestigious Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) Award. Her investigative reports on abuse in Long Term Care Homes garnered international attention for the issue and won the Ron Laidlaw Award. She is a former reporter and anchor at CHEX News, now Global Peterborough and helped launch the New CHEX Daily, a daily half hour talk show. While at CHCH News in Hamilton she covered some of the biggest news stories of the day.

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