To­day I saw jus­tice, if only for a mo­ment

I watched my daugh­ter stand up and speak out for all the other vic­tims of hu­man traf­fick­ing in this city.

The Coast - - VOICE OF THE CITY -

To­day I watched a young woman show up, pre­pared to tes­tify about the atroc­i­ties that have hap­pened at the hands of trash­bags, abusers, mod­ern day slave traders.

To­day I watched as a brave young woman stepped for­ward to speak out about Hal­i­fax’s “dirty lit­tle se­cret.”

To­day I saw this same woman pre­pare to stand up against th­ese crimes. To­day I saw those same trash bags plead out; not to save the wit­ness the grief of be­ing vic­tim­ized again, but to save them­selves.

To­day I saw the law pre­vail; not in a hu­man traf­fick­ing charge, but to the lesser charges of ad­ver­tis­ing sex­ual ser­vices, re­ceiv­ing ma­te­rial ben­e­fit from pros­ti­tu­tion, re­ceiv­ing ma­te­rial ben­e­fit from hu­man traf­fick­ing and ut­ter­ing threats.

To­day I saw a brave woman take a step for­ward in giv­ing a voice for other vic­tims: Un­der­age, of le­gal age, from all walks of life, fe­male, male and ev­ery­thing in be­tween, rich, poor and in ev­ery colour.

To­day I saw that it only takes one voice to be heard, to stand up and say, “Not any­more. That this isn’t my fault and I didn’t de­serve this.”

To­day I saw a woman that the sys­tem has failed stand up and say, “I want to be the change. I want to help.”

To­day I saw my daugh­ter speak out against Hal­i­fax’s dirty lit­tle se­cret. To­day she is my su­per­hero.

To­day I saw no help for th­ese vic­tims. To­day I saw no sup­port for this vic­tim. Only my­self and a hand­ful of vice-squad su­per­heroes.

To­day I saw that no­body wants to help th­ese vic­tims. So why should they come for­ward? No court sup­port work­ers. No­body from Step­ping Stone. NO­BODY.

To­day I learned that there is not one pro­gram in Nova Sco­tia to re­ha­bil­i­tate th­ese women. Noth­ing. There are no shel­ters, coun­sel­ing or work pro­grams.

To­day I learned that the city that I love of­fers noth­ing to th­ese vic­tims. Slut-sham­ing and de­nial, that’s what we of­fer. To­day I learned that when it comes to sex­u­al­ized vi­o­lence, we turn a blind eye.

I have watched this same young woman bat­tle men­tal health, ad­dic­tion, sex­ual abuse and sur­vive. I have seen her give up the names of up to 15 un­der­age girls, all in the same sit­u­a­tion. I have sat through tri­als and bail hear­ings with other moth­ers go­ing through the same sit­u­a­tion. All their sto­ries sound the same: A sys­tem that tries to help th­ese woman only for th­ese woman to go back. All bro­ken from men­tal, emo­tional, fi­nan­cial and sex­ual abuse. Group homes full of traf­ficked girls, with “pop­corn pimps” out­side wait­ing like hun­gry wolves. If they aren’t out­side phys­i­cally, they’re wait­ing on so­cial me­dia. In­sta­gram, Face­book, Snapchat are all a quick and easy way for th­ese peo­ple to lure our women.

To­day I saw that th­ese women are our daugh­ters, sis­ters, aunts, moms and friends. To­day I saw a pric­etag on our great­est com­mod­ity: Hu­man life.

To­day I learned the value of th­ese women’s lives is noth­ing.

To­day I saw jus­tice and it was glo­ri­ous, if only for a mo­ment. To­day I choose to speak out. To­day I choose to stand up and speak of this dirty lit­tle se­cret, even if no­body lis­tens.

To­day I saw the sys­tem pre­vail and fail all at the same time.

To­day, if only for a mo­ment, all was right in our world. To­day. Read more opin­ions at at the­coast .ca

The au­thor’s daugh­ter is a vic­tim of hu­man traf­fick­ing, whose abusers re­cently pleaded guilty in Hal­i­fax court. Her iden­tity is pro­tected by a pub­li­ca­tion ban.

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