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Anti-trafficking Laws

In 2005, the Canadian government enacted criminal laws against human trafficking. To this day, despite amendments, these anti-trafficking laws lack a substantive basis in empirical evidence and often have the effect of harming those in marginalized positions—such as people engaged in sex work.¹

The Laws:

  • Trafficking in persons
  • Trafficking of a person under the age of 18
  • Receiving a financial or other material benefit (adult & child victim)
  • Withholding or destroying a person’s identity documents (adult & child victim)
Other Criminal Code offences that are commonly grouped with charges of human trafficking include:

Any of the above offences may be recorded as ‘trafficking related’ in police statistics, artificially inflating the true number of human trafficking charges and convictions in Canada.²

For a look at how Canada’s laws conflate sex work with human trafficking, see SWAN’s backgrounder & analysis that cover the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA).

See here for a backgrounder on the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) that criminalize sex work in the name of anti-trafficking.

1 Millar, H., O’Doherty, T. ,& Roots, K. (2017). A Formidable Task: Reflections on Obtaining Legal Empirical Evidence on Human Trafficking in Canada. Anti-Trafficking Review, 8, 34-49.

2 Ibid.

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