#ProjectRaphael, #HumanTrafficking, #YorkRegionPolice, #ThaiTruong, #SusanOrlando, #CasandraDiamond
A four-year investigation Project Raphael with the York Regional Police (YRP) Human Trafficking Team (HTT) concluded with the arrest of 104 men, including 72 since the beginning of 2016, trying to purchase sex with children, YRP media release said.
Project Raphael, which was made possible by a grant from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, began in 2014 as a part of the YRP strategy to end child sex trafficking.
The strategy involved rescuing victims, identifying and charging those who traffic children, and identifying and charging those who attempted to purchase sex with children.
YRP is partnering with many other law enforcement agencies, government bodies and community-based organizations to try to put an end to sex trafficking including: Ministry of Community and Social Services, Ministry of the Attorney General, York Region Children's Aid Society, Victim Services of York Region, Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness, 360Kids, Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking, Women's Support Network.
Thai Truong/Courtesy YRP
A post by Nigma Media on the facebook account of Det.-Sgt. Thai Truong reads,
“Det. Sgt. Thai Truong says most men stopped communicating when they heard the ages, but 104 men didn’t stop. He says child sex trafficking is a growing problem in Canada. Truong says the average age of entry into the human trafficking sex trade is about 15 years old. He says police carried out their investigation over four years and focused on men who sought to buy sex from children in an effort to curb demand.”
YRP said that in many cases, women and young girls were victims of crimes as they were either lured or forced by threat or violence into the sex trade.
Truong said that in this police investigation, there were no actual young girls or women as victims of child sex.
Investigating team, in these four years, were able to charge 104 men who responded to online advertisement and then negotiated the purchase of sex with children between the ages of 13-16. The men charged ranged in ages from 18 to 71 years and were from Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and some came to York Region from other provinces.
in just three days of this investigation in 2017, the HTT investigators arrested 19 men who believed that they were purchasing sex from either a 13-year-old or 14-year-old child, indicating the demand for prostituted children.
HTT members are making efforts in combating human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of women and underage girls. Investigators said they were willing to speak with anyone involved in the sex trade who may be looking for a way out, or require assistance to escape from these dangerous circumstances.
"The biggest challenge for us when we're dealing with prostituted children is that enlisting their co-operation is very, very difficult. Getting them to trust me, getting them to tell us what has happened is challenging," Truong said, CBCNews reports said.
Through this project, police were trying to remove the burden from children and go after the men that were driving this industry. The world of human trafficking is an ugly world, said Truong.
Susan Orlando, provincial co-ordinator of the human trafficking prosecution team at Ontario's attorney general ministry, said the project had revealed the demand for sex with children that exists in York Region and the surrounding area.
"These girls experience significant and long lasting trauma from which most never recover. Young lives are irreparably damaged, some completely destroyed and some lost completely," she said.
"Exploiting the most vulnerable segments of our society and our youth for personal gain, whether it's for a John's sexual gratification or a pimp's financial gain, is among the most abhorrent criminal conduct and transgression of our moral code that exists in our society today," CBCNews reports said.
Project Raphael had, in fact, had successfully prevented 104 men in destroying lives of 104 children.
Const. Andy Pattenden, spokesperson for York Regional police, credited investigators for their work as being second to none.
In another similar story published last month involving child sex trade also concentrated in York Region Casandra Diamond, the director of BridgeNorth women's mentorship and advocacy services, was a survivor who spent a decade in the sex industry after being lured in at 18.
"The more people know about human trafficking... the better able we're going to be as a community to keep it at bay,” said Diamond, CBCNews reports said.
Diamond said it was crucial for parents to keep their kids safe online.
"We wouldn't leave them alone downtown in York region, we wouldn't leave them alone on a street corner to fend for themselves — but we do that on the Internet," she said, CBCNews reports said.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)