Covenant House, along with Toronto police, have unveiled a striking anti-sex trafficking social media campaign called #ShoppableGirls.
Sex trafficking is a money-spinning and fast-growing crime in Canada that teenagers are being easily being drawn to and enlisted by offenders through social media, according to a study by the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner.
To mark the first annual Ontario Human Trafficking Awareness Day, the campaign featured real girls in a storefront instead of mannequins at a busy Queen Street West intersection with an intent to reach out to the youth, in particular, to teach them about sex trafficking and potential warning signs.
“We wanted to bring sex trafficking out of the shadows, we want to put it in front of people’s faces,” said Julie Neubauer, program manager of anti-trafficking services at Covenant House.
She also added sex trafficking is a domestic issue that has been creeping into cities and communities across Canada.
This campaign, which has caused a lot of conversation online, aims to help people dig deeper and understand the warning signs of being forced into this billion-dollar trade.
This organization’s release reiterated that victims of sex trafficking are often recruited by someone they know through luring and grooming tactics that escalate over time.
Several people on social media praised the campaign, sharing photos of the storefronts and advertisements in the TTC.
.@CovenantHouseTO‘s #ShoppableGirls campaign uses powerful imagery to raise awareness of the victims of human trafficking. Knowing the signs can help us support those at risk. Learn more at https://t.co/fIb4tQQyxc or visit the storefront at 277 Queen St. pic.twitter.com/Qqbo6izSz1
— Sylvia Jones (@SylviaJonesMPP) February 20, 2020
Wow. I really need to give props to @CovenantHouseTO and everyone who has been a part of the #ShoppableGirls campaign. I was incredibly impressed by the model/storefront concept and today I was pulled deep into their subway ads. More marketing thoughts below pic.twitter.com/5EmCT5Npm2
— Lianna Pisani (@liannapisani) February 24, 2020
Toronto is fighting back with #shoppablegirls
— Brownface (@jxsdxxp) February 20, 2020
Your campaign is really impactful.
A powerful message for a horrible crime and all too frequent reality for many young women and girls. #ShoppableGirls
— Ample Labs (@amplelabs_co) February 18, 2020
Mayor John Tory, who also attended the event, spoke out about the importance of raising awareness. “We want to have a safe city where young people are safe from this kind of exploitation,” said Tory.
Although most people associate sex trafficking to something that happens overseas, the evidence suggests over 93 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims come from within Canada’s borders, according to the RCMP.
For individuals who may be a victim of sex trafficking or know someone who is, the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline is a confidential hotline available 24-7 at 1-833-900-1010.