They call it “The Game”.
It consists of girls who are taken to hotels across the GTA, moving from day to day to different locations, from Toronto to Oakville to Burlington and back again. Their pimps have groomed them — if they sell themselves and have sex with men for money, they are promised lives together, a wedding, and what one girl wanted most, “a house with a window seat”.
Almost all of the girls say they do it for love.
When someone thinks of sex trafficking, they often conjure up images of women from far away places being smuggled across borders. Although this can be true, it is not always the case. Most of the sex trafficking in Canada takes place within the Canadian borders, and involves Canadians – mainly females.
The victims are generally girls who are young – some being trafficked starting at ages 13 and 14 – and who have been marginalized. Similarly to how a lion preys on the weak, the pimps prey on the vulnerable. In recent years, advertisement of the girls has transitioned online. Backpage.com is one of the most popular sites for classified advertising, and if the ad says “available 24 hrs”, the girl is generally being trafficked.
One of the girls who wishes to remain anonymous, said,
"It happened when I was 19. I became friends with a girl who was a recruiter... I didn't know this. So I thought it was a friendship but she just brought me under the control of her pimps."
But there is hope in Toronto.
Covenant House in Toronto is working toward a $10-million anti-sex trafficking plan, a campaign called “Just Like a Girl You Know”.
With help coming from resources like Covenant House, there's hope that someday "The Game" will finally come to an end.
Sources & Research:
The Toronto Star
The Globe and Mail