Ever since July 20, 1999 when the first boat from China arrived on the shores of B.C. with 123 Chinese refugees, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter has been grappling daily with the issue of trafficking. In the months following that summer, three more decrepit boats arrived depositing a total of 599 refugees into B.C. Traffickers from the second boat had dumped its passengers in the cold waters of the North Pacific near Vancouver Island as they fled from authorities. We were all horrified to hear about the conditions the refugees had endured trying to get here and, along with other women, we struggled for an effective response. Although at that time our collective was not as clear, we soon confirmed that trafficked women are subjugated to indentured labour, including prostitution.

Read this story in Canada’s Promises to Keep: The Charter and Violence Against Women, pp. 89-92.