Joining the Fight Against Injustice

In December 2016, I learned about one of the most devastating form of violence inflicted on a person– human trafficking.

The UN defines human trafficking as the recruitment of others by means of force for the purpose of exploitation through prostitution, forced labour, or slavery. Seeing articles about how children are being sexually exploited by their parents through cybersex trafficking tore my heart and broke me into tears. Feeling powerless, all I could do at the time was join a campaign (Dressember) to raise money and awareness about this injustice that plagues our world.

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A photo taken for the Dressember campaign posted on social media.

It has been almost a year and a half since my epiphany and ever since, I have wrestled with thoughts about what I could do to be a part of the solution. In 2017, I followed news around the globe related to human trafficking and realized that this problem does not only occur in remote, third world countries on the other side of the planet. I can no longer plead ignorance because this plague is also widespread in the city I live in, Edmonton.

A report released by ACT Alberta states that poverty, gender inequality, normalized violence and abuse, isolation, and discrimination play a large role in making individuals vulnerable to human trafficking. Furthermore, women are more likely to face these challenges in our society.

A pamphlet released by ACT Alberta. Photo by Otiena Ellwand, Edmonton Journal.

After learning this, I was baffled by how large, complicated, and seemingly hopeless this problem is. I struggled with finding where to start to be a part of the solution. One day, I was asked if I would like to work with the Status of Women Alberta for my stretch experience. I visited their webpage right away and it and seemed like an answer to my long struggle.

The Status of Women works tirelessly to help women in Alberta. They participate in efforts to prevent and address gender-based violence, develop initiatives that improve women’s economic security, and encourage women to participate in leadership.

I work as an intern with the Violence Against Women and Girls unit. It has been around a month since I started I have learned a lot. My colleagues tirelessly work to prevent and address gender-based violence by supporting Canada’s inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, launching Alberta’s Commitment to End Sexual Violence , and partnering with UN women and the City of Edmonton to launch the UN Safe Cities initiative in Edmonton. Currently, my work is focused on supporting Senior Policy Advisors and the Status of Women staff.

At the Status of Women Deputy Minister’s office holding a copy of the Government of Alberta’s Commitment to End Sexual Violence.

I am honoured to be a part of the Government of Alberta’s work in providing a brighter future that is free from gender-based violence. A future where women are safe and secure. In order to achieve this however, we must all work together to fight the injustice, not ignore it. Therefore I urge you to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

-Jaira Dyckerhoff

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