Sexual Assault Centres Addressing Human Trafficking in Ontario

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By the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres

The sexual exploitation of persons through human trafficking is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls. Marginalized and exploited populations of women – for example, youth, Aboriginal women and girls, and women with limited or no status in Canada – are most vulnerable to being targeted. Ontario’s Sexual Violence Action Plan identifies that there is a “need for a more coordinated response to human trafficking”; further, a number of different sectors need to be involved “in order to assist victims with everything from safe housing to navigating immigration processes”.

We also recognized the importance of a collaborative approach to human trafficking. As sexual assault centres, we shared concerns on how to do collaborative work effectively in our own communities and across multiple sectors while maintaining a feminist anti-oppression and intersectional approach to the work.

Sexual Assault Centres in Ontario: Competencies in Addressing Human Trafficking

While all Ontario sexual assault centres support sexual violence survivors and share similarities in their programs and services, centres across the province are autonomous. Sexual Assault Centre staff and volunteers engaged in this work, however, all agree that sexual violence against women and children is power-based, gender-based, structurally supported and therefore political.

Violence includes the human trafficking of women. Particularly, sexual assault centres are interested in supporting women and girls who are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. A recent report from the U.N. crime-fighting office noted that 2.4 million people across the globe are victims of human trafficking at any one time, and 80 percent of them are being exploited sexually2.

In many ways, Sexual Assault Centres are well-positioned to address human trafficking in Ontario.

Sexual Assault Centres transferable competencies include the following:

  1. Centres are committed to respond to all survivors of sexual violence with whom they come into contact, including women experiencing sexual violence in the context of human trafficking.
  2. Centres have considerable and longstanding expertise in working with women surviving sexual violence from a trauma-informed, anti-oppression, intersectional framework.
  3. Centres understand that different women experience sexual violence differently. For example, a woman’s race, religion, socioeconomic status, age or sexual identity affects her level of risk for being targeted for acts of violence, as well as resources accessible to her in her healing from violence. This framework for support acknowledges that different women present different confidentiality, safety, shelter and access needs, and compels Sexual Assault Centres to respond to these needs.
  4. Feminist counselling approaches used at Sexual Assault centres include “the ability of workers to assert and reinforce boundaries in ways that do not exploit power differences between clients and staff…and the ability of workers to apply ongoing critical analyses of larger societal systems and institutions”¹.
  5. Centres have historically exercised the capacity, motivation and resourcefulness to support survivors of sexual violence who choose not to engage with the criminal justice system as a means of resolving their experience of violation. Sexual Assault Centre workers instead agree that mandatory reporting to police can promote overreliance on a current legal system which (1) does not effectively resolve most reported sexual assault cases, and (2) can alienate or outright prohibit access to support for marginalized populations of survivors², including survivors who are in conflict with the law. While it is important that sexual assault survivors have access to the legal system, women also need alternatives. This position can be very useful to survivors of human trafficking, who may elect not to engage with the criminal justice system, may face barriers, or may feel ambivalent about accessing the criminal justice system. Currently, many human trafficking initiatives in Ontario have a strong criminal justice focus; or prioritize the prosecution of traffickers ahead of support for trafficking survivors. In this, Sexual Assault Centres bring increased capacity to community work with survivors who choose not to report.
  6. Centres continue to exercise the capacity and motivation to advocate for women survivors individually (that is, on a case by case basis) and systemically.
  7. Centres have the capacity, motivation and expertise to challenge policy criteria (i.e. criteria for admission into a women’s shelter, to acquire Special Priority on housing listings, to apply for Ontario Works) meant to support women experiencing violence in their regions. Women who are trafficked often do not meet these criteria due to lack of documentation or identification. Motivated and experienced advocates, such as Sexual Assault centre staff, can support women in challenging outdated policy/criteria and achieving these supports.
  8. Centres agree that “survivors are at the centre of the work”3, and that this framework for supporting survivors of violence can be extended to developing specific supports for trafficked women. Support, in this context, includes activities and services facilitated by sexual assault centres, as well as larger lobbying action for legal and systemic changes that support survivors of trafficking. Sexual Assault Centres acknowledge that survivors of sexual violence “know from experience…where the gaps and traps are in systems and policies”4. In this, Centres are interested in understanding the needs of trafficked women and creating regional responses that address these needs.

Whether a Centre currently has direct experience supporting survivors of human trafficking in your region or not, it likely identifies with the above competencies and operationalizes them within its services for survivors of sexual violence.

These competencies are all applicable to ─ and useful in ─ addressing the needs of human trafficking survivors in Ontario. Continue reading

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Mental Health, Youth and Sexual Violence: An FAQ

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By Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres, White Ribbon Campaign, and OPHEA

What is mental health, and why is it especially important to young people?

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines mental health as a “state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”. Mental health problems can include panic and anxiety, depression and other mood problems, psychosis, eating problems and other emotional, coping or addiction problems.

It is estimated that around 20% of the world’s children and adolescents have mental health problems. About half of mental disorders begin before the age of 14. Without support, mental health problems can have a significant impact on a young person’s ability to engage with and succeed in their studies: “young people with mental health disorders are at great risk for dropping out of school”. As they grow older, additional challenges can accumulate, with “diminished career options arising from leaving school prematurely” and an overall “effect on productivity” and well-being.

Challenges also exist in providing helpful responses to young people dealing with mental health problems. Children’s Mental Health Ontario shares, for example, that:

  • 28% of students report not knowing where to turn when they wanted to talk to someone about mental health¹
  • Black youth are significantly under-represented in mental health and treatment-oriented services and over represented in containment-focused facilities²
  • First Nations youth die by suicide about 5 to 6 times more often than non-Aboriginal youth
  • LGBTQ youth face approximately 14 times the risk of suicide and substance abuse than their heterosexual peers.

Continue reading

SACHA’s HIRING

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This is a RARE opportunity! SACHA last hired a counsellor over ten years ago. Our staff turnover is extremely low.

Here’s all the info:

Counselling and Advocacy Program Counsellor
Part-time (21 hours/week), 1 year contract (with possibility for renewal)
Salary: $30,128 per year plus benefits

The Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton & Area) –SACHA, seeks a woman-identified or non-binary person to fill the position of part-time (contract) Counselling and Advocacy Program Counsellor.

The Successful Candidate will possess the following qualifications and skills:

  • A minimum of 3-years’ experience offering counselling and co-facilitating groups to individuals who have experienced sexual violence
  • A strong understanding of sexual violence from an intersectional feminist, anti-racist, anti-oppression perspective
  • Relevant College and/or University degree or applicable experience
  • Ability to respond effectively to the needs of survivors from diverse backgrounds and life experiences and to offer appropriate counselling and advocacy supports
  • Knowledge of appropriate community resources
  • Strong interpersonal, communication (oral and written), team-building and problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work independently with minimal supervision.
  • Evening availability
  • Willingness to flex time as required
  • Ability to speak a second language in addition to English is a definite asset.

Please send letter and resume by February 9th, 2018 to:
SACHA Hiring Committee
3rd Floor – 75 MacNab Street South
Hamilton, Ontario
L8P 3C1
sacha@sacha.ca

No phone calls/email inquiries please.
We thank all applicants in advance. Only those selected for interviews will be contacted.

As part of SACHA’s work against racism and other oppressions, we strive to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve. Woman identified and non-binary persons, who are Indigenous, immigrant, refugee, lesbian, bi-sexual, 2 Spirit, queer, racialized, with disAbilities, and/or who experience any other oppressions are encouraged to apply.

Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair – Fourth Edition

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The Hamilton Feminist Zine Fair, organized by SACHA, celebrates and creates spaces for marginalized groups to have discussions about feminism through do-it-yourself publishing.

We’re aiming to create an accessible event that gives a platform to those often under-represented in zine culture.

HFZF will have people tabling, selling and chatting about their zines, and a six hour zine challenge.

When: Saturday, May 12th from 10am to 4pm
Where: Hamilton Public Library, Central Library – 4th Floor. 55 York Blvd, Hamilton ON

COST!
HFZF is FREE to attend. There will be zines for sale so if you do plan to go home with some new treats it’s a good idea to bring some money.

BOOK A TABLE!
Cost! A half table costs ten dollars. Book your table here – https://hfzf2018.brownpapertickets.com/

Free tables available. Email crickett@sacha.ca to book a free table OR if you are unable to book online through Brown Paper Tickets.

WHAT’S A ZINE?
A zine is a self-published book, magazine, or comic. Anyone can make a zine – using low-cost methods like collage and photocopying – to create a space for their words, ideas, images, and more. Not having to rely on traditional publishing allows for non-mainstream voices to be heard!

SACHA’s Online Pilot Completed

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Our pilot immediate Online Text/Chat support is now finished. Thanks to the folks who have used it, we’ve learned a lot, and need some time to regroup and figure out how to continue to provide this service to survivors and their allies.

Stay tuned for new start dates; until then, survivors and their allies to call SACHA’s 24-Hour Support Line which is continuing to work as usual, at 905-525-4162.

Bridging the Gap

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To celebrate World AIDS Day we’re partnering with The AIDS Network and Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre to present Bridging the Gap: The Social and Systemic Factors Impacting Diverse Communities.

When: Friday, December 1st – 10am to 2pm
Where: Beasely Community Centre – 145 Wilson Street, Hamilton ON
Please register to Nomvelo – accho@aidsnetwork.ca

Cost: FREE!

This workshop will  discus the challenges and impact of the social determinants of health on:

  • People living with HIV and those who may be more vulnerable to acquiring HIV
  • Those who are at an increased risk of experiencing sexual violence
  • Accessing health care and other services

Lunch will be provided and there will be a panel of folks with lived experience.

SACHA Bash 2.0

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#ShowYourSACHASupport by coming through for a generous SACHA supporter – United Way Halton Hamilton!

When: Tuesday, November 28th – 7pm
Where: This Ain’t Hollywood – 345 James Street North, Hamilton ON
Cost: $7 – All proceeds for United Way Halton Hamilton. Tickets available at This Ain’t Hollywood.
Who: All ages/All genders invited!

Featuring:

Extra Special Guest: 

Safer Gigs Hamilton – SGH set up resource booths at events with the goal to reduce the risk of harm in our music community, preventing overdose and sexual assault before it happens.

Accessibility information coming soon. For more information contact Annie – annie@sacha.ca.