ICT Series: Native women and girls exploited throughout Canada
"Cherri was 11 years old the first time she was bought and sold.

Alone on the streets of Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, abruptly abandoned by her new “boyfriend,” she was accosted by an older man who said he’d bought her, and insisted she now belonged to him.

Shocked by how this could happen, she resisted, and tried to flee. But following a severe beating, she relented and went with the man, who took her to a seedy hotel where she was kept for weeks being indoctrinated into the lifestyle of a child prostitute.

Cherri was told she’d have to earn her keep, and soon became part of his “stable” of children forced into sexual slavery by a savvy racket of pimps and pedophiles who prey on vulnerable young girls with nowhere to go.

Taken from her family as a baby, she’d spent most of her youth bouncing around more than 10 foster homes by the time she fled the sexual abuse she endured under state-sponsored foster care.

So she ran away, thinking there had to be something better.

In downtown Vancouver, she met a charming young man who befriended her and acted like a “boyfriend” for a week, buying her meals, a few clothes, jewelry and makeup. He showed her around Vancouver’s downtown, pointing out the women’s resource center and local soup kitchen where she could get a meal. Then he abandoned her.

That’s when the pimp showed up. That was no accident – it’s all part of a larger scheme to find vulnerable, defenseless youth stuck in limbo between homelessness and the long road home, according to the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, an organization working on the frontlines to help exploited girls and women.

The girls – ranging in age from 11 to 17 – are routinely introduced to crack cocaine or heroine, and fed a steady diet of alcohol to “loosen them up” and numb them from the horrific experiences they are forced to endure."

Get the Story:
Trafficking our children (Indian Country Today 7/27)