He sometimes made her take a dozen men in a day. This went on for 26 months; Nakpamgi earned more than $350,000 off her. He was the first person convicted of human trafficking in Canada.
Not all human trafficking fits the same archetype, nor does it command the same media coverage. Christina Panis, a board member of the Philippine Women’s Centre, told me about another trafficked woman. (Panis couldn’t use the woman’s name for confidentiality reasons; for the purposes of this article we’ll call her Maria.) Maria came to Vancouver under the Live-in Caregiver Program, leaving three children behind in the Philippines. She hoped to attain permanent residency and earn a good wage so she could send money back to her family. Under the program, she was supposed to work 40 hours per week providing live-in elderly care. When Maria arrived, she was also forced to scrub the outside of her employer’s house, clean all the windows, tend to the garden, clean her employer’s sister’s house, and work overtime without pay. She could not take days off and when she was sick her employer refused to let her visit the doctor.
Panis first heard about the case during a meeting at the Philippine Women’s Centre. Maria had called the centre for assistance and a group of volunteers, including Panis, drove to a huge mansion near south Granville to rescue her. A middle-aged Chinese woman opened the door and led the group downstairs to see Maria. They passed a huge swimming pool and an entertainment centre with a giant TV screen. A look of immense relief crossed Maria’s face when the rescue mission arrived.
It may not be as easy to garner media outrage for Maria’s story, but Panis and many others would argue that this woman was a victim of human trafficking.
As diverse as the two stories are, both differ from the trafficking cases typically depicted in North American media. The stories usually revolve around the sex trade. The victim is portrayed as a vulnerable girl from a poor country who is kidnapped or lured away with enticing offers of work abroad only to find herself forced into prostitution in a developed country like the United States or England...
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