A former inner city high school teacher of 40 years is calling on the B.C. government to form an inter-agency human sex trafficking task force.
“Could you alert the solicitor general and premier that this crime is a priority in B.C. and we need considerable funding for provincial law enforcement and a provincial awareness campaign,” Cathy Peters told Williams Lake city council during its regular meeting Tuesday, May 25.
Sharing some statistics, she noted the average age of recruitment into the sex industry is 13, yet even younger among First Nations girls in the Lower Mainland where the target age is 10, 11 and 12 years old.
As a private citizen, Peters said she has been sharing her message with B.C. politicians at all levels of government, police agencies and the public for the last seven years since the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act became federal law in 2014.
“I have been raising awareness about this law so people would understand it and the police would enforce it,” she said.
There are three parts to the law, she explained.
The first part targets the buyer of sex, the predator, pimp, trafficker, and john who are criminalized. The second part recognizes the seller of sex as a victim, usually female, who are immune from prosecution.
Thirdly, the law has exit strategies in place to assist victims to leave the sex trade.
To date, Peters has presented to 87 communities in B.C.
Council received her presentation for information and agreed that Mayor Walt Cobb would write a letter of support.
Coun. Sheila Boehm said she will also ask the Social Planning Council if Peters can make a similar presentation to the members.
Coun. Marnie Brenner said the more that can be done to raise awareness and educate people is a good thing.
“I’ve also heard that gang activity is increasing in the city as well, so along with that, whatever we can do to keep our young girls and our youth safe is well-advised.”
In Canada the national human trafficking hotline number is 1-833-900-1010.
Peters also has a website www.beamazingcampaign.org.