The Decade Dozen

From the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Nexus.

Benjamin Perrin

Ben Perrin, JD 2005, is hard at work driving home the message that human trafficking is anything but a Third World issue. The assistant professor at UBC's Faculty of Law has been called "a hero acting to end modern-day slavery" by the U.S. State Department. And his recently published book, Invisible Chains: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking, kicked off a national public awareness campaign and is already a best seller.

"I know the contents of that book and I can tell you it's going to blow this issue wide open here in Canada," says MP Joy Smith, who introduced Bill C268, a private members' bill which passed earlier this year and called for mandatory minimum sentences for child traffickers.  Perrin helped draft the legislation. "He was a great resource person for it because he's so knowledgeable."

It all started 10 years ago when a friendly gathering at a cottage turned into a discussion on solving the world's problems. Cambodia's child sex trade came up in conversation, and Perrin took the lead in launching initiatives for long term projects, says Shuvaloy Majumdar, a visiting scholar at UBC, and chair of the non-profit Future Group, which Perrin founded to combat international human trafficking.

Perrin set up training projects in Cambodia to rescue girls - some as young as five - out of brothels, and teach them sewing or cooking skills for employment. Upon his return to Canada, he was determined to do more.

"That first report we produced, which was a couple of hundred pages long, really looked at the multi-dimensional aspects of human trafficking, starting with the victim and ending with the rule of law as an answer to these problems," explains Majumdar.

"He's brilliant, compassionate and unstoppable," says Mary Anne Bobinski, dean, UBC law school. "He's on track to becoming one of Canada's leading scholars in human rights and criminal justice."

Story: Lucianna Ciccocioppo

Photo: Hamish Hamilton

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