2nd Session, 41st Parliament,
Volume 149, Issue 23

Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Honourable Noël A. Kinsella, Speaker

Teenage Sexual Trafficking

Hon. Mobina S. B. Jaffer: Honourable senators, last summer I went with International Justice Mission Canada to Calcutta to work on issues of teenage sexual trafficking in Calcutta, India. Having worked extensively on this issue in Canada and abroad, I felt both honoured and privileged to join forces with International Justice Mission, one of Canada’s most reputable human rights organizations. However, despite my years of experience working with victims of sexual violence, nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.


Although touring the red-light district and setting eyes on thousands of women and girls who had been raped, beaten and objectified had been a heartbreaking experience, the most life-changing experience for me was sitting down and speaking with some of these young trafficking victims. These women and girls had been snatched away from their families and their homes and brought to brothels. In these brothels, their traffickers stripped them of their innocence, mercilessly beat them and brutally raped them before selling them, 12 to 20 times a day, to strangers who, too, would forcibly rape them.

However, despite the extreme hardship these women and girls had endured, speaking to them was like speaking to my own daughter. When we all sat down on the floor in a circle, they asked me questions and I, in turn, would ask them questions. Their questions were like questions girls anywhere in the world would ask. They spoke of clothes, food, Bollywood movies and popular songs.

Honourable senators, these young girls reminded me of the young girls I met in Canada because they are no different than our young girls in Canada. They had the same hopes and aspirations; they had the same hobbies, interests and celebrity crushes. This is precisely why we should fight for their rights and work hard to protect them, just as hard as we would fight to protect our own daughters. These girls are also our daughters.

Honourable senators, over 2 million women and girls are trafficked every year. Although we may not be able to take away the pain and suffering so many women and children have already endured, we can reconfirm our commitment to ensuring that this does not continue to happen. We can help rehabilitate young victims like the ones I spoke to in Kolkata, and we can work as a government and a country to help ensure that traffickers of children are held accountable for their actions.

Honourable senators, let us reconfirm our commitment to fighting the battle against human trafficking so our children all over the world will be safe. Thank you.