African woman subjected to "slave-like" conditions
What a difference a little distance can make.
On one side of Vancouver, Mumtaz Ladha is wanted for human trafficking.
According to Vancouver police, she subjected a young African woman to "slave-like" conditions in her home. She promised the woman a work visa and a job in a hair salon. Instead, she delivered slavery.
“This was work well beyond what you would expect reasonable working conditions to be in Canada,” explained Constable Michael McLaughlin, RCMP E division spokesperson. “Things like hand-washing underwear of all the people in the house, hand-washing cars, hand-washing the cars of guests who came over."
“She wasn’t given enough food," McLaughlin continued. "In some cases, she was forced to eat whatever was left over from a meal — table scraps, in other words. She had no money, her identity documents weren’t with her, and it’s our information that she was often only allowed to sleep when the other people in the home were all sleeping.”
It took a year for the victim to seek help. She was brought to Canada in 2008, and sought refuge in a Vancouver women's shelter in 2009.
“I can’t talk about the exact circumstances, but ultimately, she finally understood through having a conversation with somebody that the conditions she was living under were not acceptable,” McLaughlin continued. “She had so little idea, you would be shocked. She was very depressed, she was very upset, she thought she was stuck, she thought there would be no way out of this situation.”
According to McLaughlin, part of the problem that helps facilitate human trafficking lies in the lack of information available to the victims.
“Part of the reason why human trafficking can exist, even in a country like this, is when people are brought over here, they don’t realize that the standards in Canada are so much different from the area of the world where they’re from,” McLaughlin explained. “They don’t realize it’s not okay to be living in a place without your identity papers, without pay, working these kinds of hours. They don’t understand the social mores of what goes on here.”
Of course, there's one other problem: that police don't yet have all the necessary tools to combat human trafficking. And there are some MPs in Parliament who simply aren't happening.
Taking centre stage in this regard is an MP from the East side of Vancouver: Vancouver-East MP Libby Davies. In 2009, she voted against anti-human trafficking legislation.
Davies did this not only out of ideological opposition to mandatory minimum sentences -- the bill mandated a 5-year mandatory minimum sentence for the trafficking of children -- but, according to UBC Professor Benjamin Perrin, out of an equally-ideological pro-prostitution agenda.
When one considers the treatment inflicted on Mumtaz Ladha's victim, it's astonishing to think that enslaving someone -- in a country where slavery is not only illegal, but antithetical to Canadian values -- would not warrant a sentence of at least five years. (In fact, the mandatory minimum sentence should be life in prison without parole.)
Canadians who take the issue of human trafficking seriously understand one central fact: that people who traffick in human beings simply belong in prison. End of conversation.
That Libby Davies can sit on her blatantly-ideological positions in East Vancouver while individuals living in multi-million dollar homes in West Vancouver enslave people is an utter outrage.