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Human trafficking set to increase for 2010 Games

Human trafficking set to increase for 2010 Games
Tue Feb. 10 2009

One year from now, people from around the world will gather in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But as the final plans for Thursday's countdown celebrations are
ironed out -- some fear Vancouver will be welcoming more than just
athletes and fans. There is a concern that human trafficking is set to
increase. And one group is taking action.

Major Brian Venables of the Salvation Army opens the door to room 712 of its latest safe house.

"This is one of the rooms; it'll eventually have three beds," he said.

They already provide shelter for recovering addicts, abuse victims
and refugees, but these rooms are different. Ten beds on one floor will
be reserved for victims of human trafficking.

It's a problem the Salvation Army feels is about to get worse -- when the world arrives next year for the 2010 Games.

"There are young people who are taken advantage of, They're
imprisoned, there's no escape for them," Major Venables said. "When you
bring the world stage to a city, the demand for sex slaves goes up."

And the vulnerable need a place to hide, he added.

"They're found in hotel rooms and condos, and if the police were to
raid one of these trafficking centres, and all of a sudden eight young
girls are needing a place to stay we'd have a place for them."

Human trafficking victims aren't necessarily smuggled in from
overseas. There is also domestic trafficking -- where people are moved
around within Canada -- sometimes from small communities to big cities
-- and become trapped in the sex trade.

So far, the RCMP haven't seen any indication trafficking is on the rise. However, it is on their radar.

"We do know that major sporting events exacerbate what's already
going on," said Cpl. Norm Massie of the RCMP Border Integrity program.

"Today we are very much prepared, in our opinion. Police officers
are better trained in how to detect it but also how to effectively
investigate it."

The Salvation Army also wants to be prepared.

"We don't know if we're going to be full. We don't know if 10 beds are enough. We know they're out there," said Venable.

The safe house will be self-contained with medical help,
counselling, and legal assistance on site. It should be ready to open
in a few months.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber.

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