Girls In Store Windows Are Going To Stare Back At You On Queen West Today (PHOTOS)
The "Shoppable Girls" are there as a warning.
If you're walking down Toronto's Queen Street West on February 20, you might notice some unusual displays which feature real girls standing in storefronts as mannequins. This is the latest step in the Shoppable Girls campaign, which aims to raise awareness about the horrors of sex trafficking in Canada. The live models are being used to illustrate how real girls are exploited and tricked into the world of human trafficking.
The campaign aims to raise awareness of the warning signs of potential sex trafficking, per a Covenant House Toronto release.
It features girls named "The Ellie,” “The Amara,” “The Samantha,” “The Maya,” and "The Michaela." The quintet will be behind the glass on Queen near University on Thursday, per CTV News.
“To sex traffickers, girls are just products,” read a message between the girls. “Unsuspecting girls are being lured into the sex industry and forced to sell their bodies for someone else’s profit. It’s called sex trafficking, and it’s happening here at home.”
Tracie LeBlanc, Associate Director of Communications at Covenant House Toronto, told Narcity in an email that the displays are part of a wider striking campaign in Ontario.
That will see advertising across Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook surrounding Human Trafficking Awareness Day on Saturday, February 22.
"We also have ads in public spaces including Yonge and Dundas Square, Vaughan Mills Mall, and transit stations across Toronto," LeBlanc adds. The campaign will be running for four weeks.
LeBlanc stresses that "it's difficult to quantify" the number of people in Canada experiencing sex trafficking due to it being under-reported and misunderstood.
Many victims are lured into this industry over time, and they can be drawn in through social media. Other avenues can be through parties, malls, and even bus stops, according to the "Shoppable Girls" website.
Some victims are reportedly as young as 13 and are often targeted because of their vulnerability.
Traffickers will make you feel like you owe them after they shower you with gifts or material commodities, "Shoppable Girls" warns.
They also aim to isolate victims from friends and family.
You can even read stories from real cases of human trafficking on the website.
These feature real women who have fallen victim to sex traffickers share their stories to raise awareness and give tips to others on how to identify a dangerous situation.
According to Toronto Police, per CP24, sex trafficking in Canada is a billion-dollar industry.
“No one chooses to be trafficked. And the truth is that it's happening in our communities, to our children and often right in front of us. Yet many times the signs go unnoticed by those in the best position to help,” said Julie Neubauer, program manager of anti-trafficking services at Covenant House.
The release says that 93% of sex trafficking victims in the country are Canadian citizens.
While the pop-up on Queen is for Thursday only, the campaign continues.
Human Trafficking Awareness Day is this Saturday, February 22.