London man combats human trafficking through 210-kilometre Walk of Freedom 2012 trek
London Community News
By Mallory Clarkson/London Community News/Twitter: @MalloryClarkson
Stan Burditt laced up his shoes Thursday (Sept. 6), not for his morning jaunt, but to begin a 210-kilometre trek to Toronto.
With a petition in hand, Burditt — who is the founder of the Men Against Sexual Trafficking group — began his walk to Queen’s Park where he will ask the provincial government for support in the fight against human trafficking, while raising awareness in communities along the way.
“What it (the petition) actually asks for is for them (the provincial government) to provide some legislation … and more money,” Burditt said before taking the first step of his campaign called the Walk of Freedom 2012. “We want them to be more proactive and provide resources for groups that are working on this serious problem.”
At 20 kilometres a day, Burditt said he plans on walking into Toronto for Sept. 15 — after official awareness events in Woodstock, Burlington and Mississauga — where he’ll be joined by a group of activists called Free Them, before marching on Queen’s Park.
Burditt stressed another purpose behind the walk is to get the public to realize human trafficking is a problem in Ontario.
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“Sex trafficking is basically in every community, no matter how big it is,” he said. “There is a problem in Ontario and a lot of the people that are being victimized are children.”
Deputy Chief Brent Shea with the London Police Service agreed with Burditt, but added there are many faces to human trafficking and it can involve sexual exploitation, the underground construction industry, commercial agriculture, fishing and domestic care or housekeeping.
“The perpetrators of human trafficking focus their energies towards exploiting vulnerable persons for financial gain,” Shea said. “This criminal behaviour utilizes force, sexual assault, threats and actual physical and emotional abuse to gain control over those they exploit.”
He added trafficking isn’t restricted to those who come from abroad, but Canadian girls as well. Shea stressed Burditt’s efforts represent a positive reach initiative that will educate communities about the issue.
“It emphasizes that law enforcement and other supportive agencies are present to assist and intervene to rescues those involved and hold the offenders criminally accountable for their action,” he said.
Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, was also present at the Walk for Freedom launch. She stressed the importance of having men like Burditt stand up for women’s rights.
“Stan has done a phenomenal job of raising the profile of a very serious issue that impacts our community,” she said. “It’s a gift when we have a community leader like Stan who comes forward and — consistently against all backlash — stands up on the right side of women.”
For more information about the Walk for Freedom or to see updates on Burditt’s trek, visit http://mast-canada.com/Events.aspx