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Police forces seek to identify factors driving women into sex trade

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Looking for a little more insight into the sex trade in Canada, Winnipeg police took part in a nation-wide blitz last week.

Operation Northern Spotlight was designed to identify the determining factors into what drives women into the sex trade, specifically whether there are any outside forces influencing the decision. Findings concluded that while many of the women were making their own choice to earn money in the industry, some were being forced to perform sexual acts through threats of violence, physical intimidation, drug dependency and other forms of coercion.

Over 330 young women, some as young at 15 years old, were interviewed by police over the two-day blitz in 30 cities and towns across the country. Winnipeg police interviewed 15 women,  between 18 and 45 years old, and believe some of the women were in the sex trade under someone else’s control.

Police found potential clients were made aware of the girls through various websites and often call or text a cellphone number to arrange the liaisons at local hotels and motels.

Support services were extended to each of the women, police said.

While no arrests were made, police will continue to monitor the situations of "forced participation" moving forward.

Winnipeg police take ‘human trafficking" and "sex slavery" very seriously and remind anyone with new information that might assist investigators on a potential situation is asked to contact the Counter Exploitation Unit (CEU) at (204) 986-3464.

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