Shedding light on human trafficking

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Human trafficking is a grave violation of human rights that affects individuals worldwide. On Human Trafficking Awareness Day, it is crucial to raise awareness, educate ourselves, and take collective action to combat it.  

In Canada, there has been little research about the prevalence of human trafficking among individuals with FASD. Individuals with FASD, especially women and girls, face an increased risk of exploitation or trafficking. 

Understanding human trafficking  

Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation, harboring, or receipt of individuals through force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. Victims of human trafficking endure unimaginable physical and psychological suffering.  

Additionally, many perpetrators force victims into labor under deplorable conditions. They can also subject victims to sexual exploitation and inflicting physical and emotional abuse. 

Interconnections with FASD  

CanFASD’s Gap Analysis: Human Trafficking and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder highlights specific vulnerabilities to trafficking that are identified that both take advantage of individuals’ challenges and their strengths. These include challenges with executive functioning paired with individuals’ outgoing, affectionate, generous, forgiving, and nonjudgemental nature.   

Survivors of human trafficking who have FASD might then go onto experience more hardship when engaging with the justice system. The lack of systems in the justice sector to support and understand victims with FASD results in victims not being taken seriously and potentially reduces the likelihood of convicting their perpetrators. 

Taking action  

Researchers need to conduct more studies on the connection between human trafficking and FASD. The available research on human trafficking and disabilities limits its scope and often treats individuals with disabilities as a homogenous population, neglecting their strengths and diverse needs. 

For educators, social service providers, and caregivers, there is an urgent need to provide education about healthy relationships, how to safely interact online, and consent. For justice workers, adopting FASD-informed approaches can support both the workforce and individuals with FASD.  


Human Trafficking Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address this global crisis. By reforming the justice system, supporting survivors, and taking collective action, we can contribute to the fight against human trafficking. 

Find out more about FASD and human trafficking in our gap analysis. If you or someone you know might be a victim of human trafficking, get help through the Canadian Human Trafficking Hotline. 

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