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Wonderful Action in Montreal!

Demonstrators bring attention to human trafficking in Montreal

By Megan Martin, The Suburban

Photo by Megan Martin, The Suburban
Demonstrator Phyllis Douillard having a conversation with passerby about trafficking

More than a dozen people took part in a demonstration last Saturday in an effort to bring awareness to the problem of human trafficking in Canada. The demonstration took place on the corner of Ste. Catherine and Crescent Street downtown amidst the crowds of people celebrating Montreal’s annual Grand Prix.

“Our goal is to bring attention to the trafficking of sex workers that surrounds major sporting events like the Grand Prix,” said demonstration organizer Sharon Di Fruscia.

“Trafficking is one of the most profitable businesses in the world, it’s extremely well organized, they operate under the radar and it simply needs to stop.”

This is the third year the demonstration has taken place. This year’s event drew collaboration from various religious organizations, in addition to the anti-trafficking group STOP.

As Di Fruscia explained, the trafficking process begins some time prior to the sporting event. The large influx of tourists is the primary reason for the increase in sex workers.

“Sex workers are trafficked into the city hosting the event months before. They are kept in an underground network of basements and secluded rooms. In Canada we have trafficking victims from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and northern Europe. We also have a lot of our own indigenous people that are trafficked from province to province and over the border to the States.”

Aside from informing the general public about the issue of human trafficking, the groups putting on the demonstration have even bigger goals in mind, as explained by demonstrator and Catholic Women’s League member Patricia Hannan.

“We need to make the public more aware of this situation,” said Hannan. “One of our goals is to petition people to ask the government to bring attention to this issue as part of its advertising campaign for Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics.”

In addition, Di Fuscia added that the group has long-term objectives to make Canada more hospitable to the victims of human trafficking.

“We want to see our government grant asylum to the victims of trafficking,” she said. “Victims of trafficking are often sent back to their home country, which is very traumatic for them; we want to grant them a safe haven, and acquire the funding necessary to develop treatment programs and facilities to help get them back on their feet.”

According to statistics from the Temple Committee Against Human Trafficking, there are currently 27 million victims of human trafficking; 80 percent of which are trafficked for the purposes of prostitution.

“Education is the key,” said demonstrator Phyllis Douillard. “When people are educated enough, their conscience will not allow them to exploit sex workers. These are desperate young women and children who are promised jobs as waitresses or something else. When they get here, they’re passports are taken and they are forced into prostitution — it has to stop.”


Craigstlist as Pimp

By Ethan Baron
The Province
Friday, May 09, 2008

Five girls in the care of the B.C. children’s ministry have been selling sex on Craigslist, police say.

Police said the girls, aged 16 and 17, have been offering their services on the U.S.-based advertising website’s “erotic-services” section for the Greater Vancouver area.

“They’re purporting themselves to be 18, 19, 20 years old,” said Det. Lindsey Houghton of the Vancouver police youth-services unit. “All of them are in care of the ministry to some degree.”

Responsibility for prostitution by girls in the care of the Ministry of Children and Family Development falls “very clearly on the ministry,” said Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the provincial Representative for Children and Youth.

“The outcomes are terrible for these young women. The most positive outcome might be a jail sentence. The most negative outcome they could face would be death.

“The sex trade is very risky.”

Vancouver police have identified girls as young as 15 advertising sex on Craigslist.

Child prostitution in Vancouver has largely shifted from the streets to the Internet, Houghton said.

“It’s moved successfully inside for these kids, because it’s a lot harder to police. They seem to be befriended and groomed by . . . the classic pimp . . . or older kids who seem to be able to convince them and manipulate them.”

Houghton believes there are more underage prostitutes advertised on Craigslist than police know about.

When police and social workers become aware of child prostitutes, they try to get them out of the business, said Houghton, who works closely with the ministry.

“The last resort that we want is to charge them criminally.”

In Alberta, authorities can seize and treat children involved in the sex trade, but political will is lacking for such a measure in B.C., Houghton said.

“It seems like there’s an acceptance that some of these kids are going to die,” Houghton said.

Investigating child prostitution on Craigslist is difficult, because the communication takes place privately over the Internet.

“We don’t know what that e-mail conversation is,” Houghton said.

“It’s impossible for us unless the guy keeps some sort of record or the girl decides she wants to testify against him in court, which is very rare.”

Turpel-Lafond wants police to shut down Internet child-sex ads by developing new methods as they have with online child pornography.

“This is the modern era,” Turpel-Lafond said. “Cyberspace is very important for us to monitor very closely if it’s being used for sexual exploitation.”

B.C. authorities have “a terrible track record” in pursuing men who use child prostitutes, said Annabel Webb, founder of Vancouver-based Justice for Girls. “It’s tolerated. The police need to focus their attention on the men who are doing the buying.”

Craigslist itself could face criminal charges for aiding in communication for the purpose of child prostitution, said University of B.C. associate law Prof. Janine Benedet.

“There’s an argument that they’re really sort of pimping,” she said.

The fact that Craigslist doesn’t profit directly from the free sex ads would complicate a prosecution, she added.

The for-profit company makes money by selling job ads in 10 cities and apartment listings in New York.

The Canadian Criminal Code prohibits paying for sex with a person under 18, and communicating for that purpose.

The children’s ministry and Craigslist did not provide interviews requested by The Province.


The World’s Oldest Profession?

Question the statement that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. Every day in our work this myth evaporates under the suffering of the women with whom we are in relationship. Bev Stevens from Magdalene has commented that “since the average age that a woman in our program was introduced to sex is around nine, sexual abuse is at least one generation older than prostitution.”


The Myth of the Victimless Crime

March 12, 2008
Op-Ed Contributors
The New York Times

WHAT do we know about the woman Gov. Eliot Spitzer allegedly hired as a prostitute? She was the one person he ignored in his apology. What is she going through now? Is she in danger from organized crime because of what she knows? Is anyone offering her legal counsel or alternatives to prostitution?

“I’m here for a purpose,” she said in a conversation with her booking agent after meeting with Governor Spitzer, according to the affidavit of the F.B.I agent who investigated the prostitution ring. “I know what my purpose is. I’m not a … moron, you know what I mean.”

Her purpose, as a man who knew patiently explained, is “renting” out an organ for 10 minutes. Men rent women through the Internet or by cellphone as if they were renting a car. And now, in response to the news about Governor Spitzer, pundits are wading into the age-old debates over whether prostitution is a victimless crime or whether women are badly hurt in prostitution no matter what they’re paid.

Whose theory is it that prostitution is victimless? It’s the men who buy prostitutes who spew the myths that women choose prostitution, that they get rich, that it’s glamorous and that it turns women on.

But most women in prostitution, including those working for escort services, have been sexually abused as children, studies show. Incest sets young women up for prostitution ­ by letting them know what they’re worth and what’s expected of them. Other forces that channel women into escort prostitution are economic hardship and racism.

The Emperor’s Club presented itself as an elite escort service. But aside from charging more, it worked like any other prostitution business. The pimps took their 50 percent cut. The Emperor’s Club often required that the women provide sex twice an hour. One woman who was wiretapped indicated that she couldn’t handle that pressure. The ring operated throughout the United States and Europe. The transport of women for prostitution was masked by its description as “travel dates.”

Telephone operators at the Emperor’s Club criticized one of the women for cutting sessions with buyers short so that she could pick up her children at school. “As a general rule,” one said, “girls with children tend to have a little more baggage going on.”

Whether the woman is in a hotel room or on a side street in someone’s car, whether she’s trafficked from New York to Washington or from Mexico to Florida or from the city to the suburbs, the experience of being prostituted causes her immense psychological and physical harm. And it all starts with the buyer.


Prayer as Resistance


At REED we see prayer as a central act of resistance to the powers of death that hold so many of our friends captive.  On March 5 we are hosting a City-Wide Call to Prayer for those affected by prostitution and global sex trafficking.  The event will be held at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church at 1803 1st Ave. East (corner of 1st and Salsbury) from 7:00-8:30.  Come on out and sing, lament and hope with us.


Women’s Memorial March

redrose.jpg         mainstreetmarch.jpg 

An important event is happening on February 14 that serves as a remembrance of the women who have disappeared or been killed in our community. Come out to be in solidarity with the friends and family of women and to be an outward sign of resistance to the ongoing perpetration of violence against women.

The Women’s Memorial March
Thursday, Feb 14th
12:00 at the Carnegie Community Centre Theatre for opening ceremonies
1:00 for the march to 16 different sites in the neighborhood
3:00 conclusion at the Japanese Cultural Centre

The organizers have asked that groups do not bring their own signs or literature.


Rhetorical Wantonness


Why is it that trafficking for sexual exploitation is one of the fastest growing areas of global trade, making billions of dollars for perpetrators and absolutely ruining the lives of women and girls? This brutal industry of selling bodies is being fueled by a growing demand for paid sex with no societal accountability. What sort of toll is it taking? Women are dying, whether literally or figuratively, by the thousands.

Women are being coerced daily into the sex industry. They are preyed upon because of their race, class, addiction, previous sexual assault and other factors. Again, I ask: Why don’t we question this femicide? The press tells us that women are making a “choice” to be prostituted, but don’t be fooled by this rhetorical wantonness.  Watch the words.  Their exploitation is being driven by the growing market demand for sexual access to the bodies of women and children. Please don’t close your eyes to this injustice, but rather speak out against the sex industry and it’s violation of women. For immediate action voice your concerns about legalized brothels to both your MP and Sam Sullivan. Click here for resources.