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About 700 march in Toronto to stop human-trafficking

By Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

Donna-Marie Newfield, 50, and her husband Bill Forsyth, 47, both from Peterborough, march along Bay St. on Saturday, September 15, 2012 in Toronto as part of the third-annual Walk For Freedom in order to raise $30,000 for anti human-trafficking organizations in Canada. (JENNY YUEN/QMI Agency)

Donna-Marie Newfield, 50, and her husband Bill Forsyth, 47, both from Peterborough, march along Bay St. on Saturday, September 15, 2012 in Toronto as part of the third-annual Walk For Freedom in order to raise $30,000 for anti human-trafficking organizations in Canada. (JENNY YUEN/QMI Agency)

TORONTO - 

Timea Nagy is a human-trafficking survivor who is helping other women become survivors.

The 35-year-old knows the empty promises made to young girls who come to Canada for a better life and, like herself, are thrown into the stripping industry or prostitution and are threatened by pimps if they try to leave.

But shockingly, the same alarming story happens for Canadian women from all walks of life and background.

"They get kicked out at the age of 12 or their own mothers sold them to drug dealers," Nagy said at the third-annual Walk for Freedom march Saturday in Toronto.

"One girl was (a dealer's) slave until she was 15 and then she broke free from him. But by then, her ribs, her legs and nose were broken and unfortunately, that's the typical story behind every Canadian trafficking case."

Roughly 700 people marched to Queen's Park and around the city during the five-kilometre walk, many wearing purple t-shirts and holding balloons of the same colour to raise $30,000 for anti-human trafficking resources.

Purple represents a colour of royalty, organizers said, and in this march it signifies dignity and respect to victims and survivors.

"We help to fund a lot of those rescues," said Shae Invidiata, founder of Free-Them, which organized the walk along with Nagy's group, Walk With Me.

"With the announcement of the national action plan to combat human trafficking in June of this year - that means $25 million over four years, but only $500,000 of that is for victim services right across the nation. I'm very grateful, but we need more."

According to Free-Them, 27 million people worldwide is 34.1 million and 80% of those are women and children. Human trafficking is a $32-billion a year industry.

Most survivors are between 17 and 20 years old, Nagy said.

RCMP Const. Lepa Jankovic said a Hamilton, Ont., human-trafficking ring was the biggest case to date in July that led to the arrests of three Toronto men and 23 victims identified.

"There were male victims, which is shocking to most people. They don't realize men can be trafficked as well and this is through the labour industry," said Jankovic.

"It's heartbreaking to see these people come to this country anticipating a wonderful life where they can work and send money home to their families and then they end up enslaved."

jenny.yuen@sunmedia.ca


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