Former sex worker cautions kids about human trafficking
Published Thursday, May 17, 2012 2:23PM PDT
A woman who was trafficked across Canada to work in the sex trade as a teenager is now giving B.C. high school students lessons on how to avoid being exploited.
Natasha Falle was a kid from the suburbs, but she was just 14 when she turned her first trick. Soon after that she met the pimp who would sell her to clients across the country.
"They tell you that they love you, that I'm your family, I'm the one who cares for you, your parents never loved you. My pimp often told me that the sex trade saved my life," Falle told CTV News.
After more than a decade of prostitution and abuse, Falle left the trade and went back to school. Now she consults with police and gives talks across the country.
This week, she's talking about some heavy issues with students in Vancouver high schools.
"This is where we need to start; we need to start in the schools before they learn about the sex trade in the wrong way," she said.
The school appearances are thanks in part to the influence of an influential parent: Taliah Aquilini.
Aquilini says she's passionate about the issue of human trafficking, and she doesn't believe enough is being done to protect vulnerable children.
"We don't have the B.C. government taking care of this matter and we really need an action plan," she said.
Anti-trafficking advocates are calling for a national strategy to deal with the problem and let people know that foreigners aren't the only ones being exploited and recruited into the sex trade. Naomi Krueger of Deborah's Gate, a safe house for sex trafficking victims operated by the Salvation Army, says most of the facility's residents come from Canada.
"We've had residents who were trafficked from Squamish to the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver, from northern British Columbia to Vancouver. We've had a number of residents that have come up from the U.S. to ... eastern Canada," she said.
Still, criminal charges for sex trafficking are rare. Reza Moazami, a 27-year-old Vancouver man charged with pimping out four young girls, became the first person in B.C. ever charged with trafficking minors last year. He's currently out on bail and faces a minimum of five years in jail if convicted.
But Falle doesn't want to rely on criminal convictions to protect women and children. She hopes prostitutes will be fully decriminalized, allowing workers to come forward without fear, but also wants johns and pimps to be prosecuted.
"This year my goal is to sue my pimp, I really want to send a message to all women and children who have been prostituted that they can stand up for themselves and they will be protected," she said.
Watch CTV News at Six for a full report from Mi-Jung Lee