Back to Top

Human Trafficking Awareness this Election Season

This is a reflection on human trafficking. 

This is a reflection on more than just human trafficking. 

Because, like many of our world’s justice issues, human trafficking is rooted in other systemic problems and challenges. 

What does that discernment process look like for you?

As Canadians head into a federal election, we have heartfelt concerns and issues at the forefront of our minds driving our decisions and our votes. Certain hot topics will be addressed more prominently in political debates and campaigning conversations as candidates paint a picture of what they see for our communities’ futures. Human trafficking – while better understood and gaining more governmental response over the years – is still a topic that is unlikely to be addressed first, if even at all, during debates or policy proposals.

So, when you’re like me and care about individuals who are being trafficked and exploited in our world, how do you make decisions about who you should cast your vote for? What does that discernment process look like for you?

As I look at issues that are being addressed by the media this election season, I see several ways I can address human trafficking with popular issues that overlap.  

Migration and Refugees

The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR reports that there are currently 70.8 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Given the perilous situations faced by forcibly displaced people – precarious housing, economic instability, war and violence, etc. – this population is highly vulnerable to being trafficked and exploited. Over half of forcibly displaced people are children under the age of 18, placing them in greater risk of exploitation.

Further Reading
I encourage you to read JJ Tenclay’s reflections on the trafficking and exploitation of Nigerian women in Europe. See also this article on sex trafficking and the refugee crisis. 

Questions for your candidate

  • How will you respond to the needs of those who face perils in their own countries and migrate across lands and oceans in search of peace and safety? 


Climate Change and Creation Care

In a recent United Nations article, climate change was listed as a factor that “exacerbate[s] the vulnerabilities and desperation that enable trafficking to flourish.” How can this be? 

Climate change is linked to global climate concerns like droughts and water shortages in some regions, rising water levels and flooding in other regions, and intensified storms. Natural disasters displace many people who are left vulnerable. The 2017 Global Report on Internal Displacement states that there were “24.2 million new displacements by disasters brought on by sudden-onset natural hazards in 118 countries and territories in 2016.” That year, displacements due to natural disasters was three times more than the rate of displacement due to conflict and violence. 

In the wake of natural disasters, vulnerable populations are made even more susceptible to traffickers and exploiters. Human trafficking flourishes in the chaos and desperation left behind after natural disasters strike. 

Further Reading

“The Climate Change-Human Trafficking Nexus” by the International Organization for Migration.

Questions for your candidate

  • How will you address increasing concerns about climate change and its impact on the world’s most vulnerable people?
  • How will you prioritize climate change in your policies? 


Economic Justice

Economic justice concerns – like affordable housing, food security, and livable wages – need to be addressed as a mechanism to prevent human trafficking as well as to care for survivors after they escape exploitation.

Traffickers often use the allure of money and economic stability to recruit victims. In Canada, many traffickers use false promises to convince victims that the sex trade is a lucrative way to make money only for victims to find that they are trapped in exploitation, and traffickers know that poor or marginalized individuals are especially susceptible to these promises.

In Canada, survivors of human trafficking are faced with rebuilding their lives and require various supports and assistance. Finding affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges for survivors. Survivors who have been trafficked for an extensive amount of time or since childhood are often unable to find adequate employment and rely on social welfare assistance. Healthy social services are important to support those who are in need. 

Further Reading

Learn more about what Restorations Second Stage Homes is doing to address long-term housing and support for survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. 

Questions for your candidate

  • How will you address poverty in our community and in our country?
  • What will you do to ensure that Canadians in our community and in our country have access to affordable housing? 
Indigenous Justice

Although Indigenous women make up 4% of the Canadian female population, some statistics suggest that approximately 50% of trafficking victims in Canada are Indigenous. The legacies of colonialism, racism, generational trauma, poverty, and abuse contribute to the vulnerabilities Indigenous women and girls face in being targeted by pimps and traffickers. Trafficking is one of the many complex factors that contribute to the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. 

Further Reading

“Trafficking of Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada: Submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights,” Native Women’s Association of Canada (2018)

Questions for your candidate

  • How will you prioritize our country’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous communities?
This election your votes names that which we value

During this election season, I seek to amplify the voices of people who are trafficked by asking good questions of politicians and listening carefully to their answers. By asking these questions I respond to the Proverbs 39:1 call to “Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”  And I pray that I will cast my vote for someone who believes this as well. If we are active citizens this election your votes names that which we value, the ideals we wish to see for our communities, our country, and our world.


The Reformed family is a diverse family with a diverse range of opinions. Not all perspectives expressed on the blog represent the official positions of the Christian Reformed Church. Learn more about this blog, Reformed doctrines, and our diversity policy on our About page.

In order to steward ministry shares well, commenting isn’t available on Do Justice itself because we engage with comments and dialogue in other spaces. To comment on this post, please visit the Christian Reformed Centre for Public Dialogue’s Facebook page (for Canada-specific articles) or the Office of Social Justice’s Facebook page. Alternatively, please email us. We want to hear from you!

Read more about our comment policy.