Annual Free-them Walk for Freedom in Toronto Sept 15

by Michelle Brock on August 31st, 2012

Heads up!  Free-them’s third annual Freedom Walk is taking place in Toronto on September 15!  The money raised will go to a local organization that is very close to my heart, Walk With Me, which is an absolute lifeline for victims of human trafficking.  Walk With Me is working closely with various police services and supports many trafficking victims in Ontario and Canada.

FreethemWalk 682x1024Last year the walk raised $35,000 for victims and front line support!

Find out more and register here!  And check out last year’s pictures here.

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Modern Day Slavery in Pictures: TED Talk by Lisa Kristine

by Michelle Brock on August 28th, 2012

You may have noticed that I have not written a post for a couple of weeks, for which I apologize.  Things are beginning to move fast with our upcoming documentary, and the last 2 weeks have been key in figuring out our game plan.  I will write more on that very soon and keep you all in the loop!  But for today, here’s a powerful TED Talk I listened to today on modern day slavery.

Moves us to action, doesn’t it?  Here is a great survey you can take to see how you are part of the slavery chain.

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To Be Free: The Story of a Sex Trafficking Survivor

by Michelle Brock on August 13th, 2012

Powerful.

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A Bill C-310 Certificate that Belongs to YOU!

by Michelle Brock on August 9th, 2012

I just got a letter and certificate from the office of MP Joy Smith, thanking Hope for the Sold for helping Bill C-310 become law.  Immediately as I saw it, I knew I had to take a picture pointing right back at YOU, Hope for the Sold readers, because so many of you wrote letters to your Members of Parliament in support of this bill!  We have been part of shaping history!  The following extends to you:

You Did It1“As Member of Parliament for Kildonan – St. Paul and sponsor of Bill C-310, I want to acknowledge and honour the outstanding efforts of Hope for the Sold to help pass Bill C-310.  As a result of Hope for the Sold’s support, Canada has strengthened its tools to combat modern day slavery.”

 

HUGE thank you goes to you who took action on this!  The bill received Royal Assent on June 22, and as a result, Canadians who engage in human trafficking and modern day slavery aboard are no longer exempt from prosecution in Canada.  Furthermore, the definition of human trafficking has been enhanced to include key factors to help police and courts to better identify cases of human trafficking.

Awesome.  I love that many of you don’t just read this blog, but take action.  Let’s keep taking steps to make Canada an international leader on this issue.  Thank you MP Smith for all your hard work!

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On A Mission: The Adult Entertainment Association of Canada is Recruiting Students into the Sex Industry

by Michelle Brock on August 7th, 2012

ClubIn July Canada’s government stopped issuing visas or extensions for foreign strippers to work in the country.  This has sparked outrage from the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, who is now on a mission to recruit young women domestically to fill demand.

AEAC representative Tim Lambrinos says that they plan to recruit at educational institutions and malls.They would merely set up a kiosk with a pole and information.  As this article states, Lambrinos confirmed a draft of the recruiting package that says the following:

“If you are visually appealing and comfortable with your naked body and are comfortable about taking all your clothes off, you can be working right now as an exotic dancer and earn your tuition fees for university or college.”

 

Regarding foreign workers who are already in the strip industry in Canada, the AEAC wishes to extend their permits for another year.  They are also encouraging people to marry the foreign nationals so they can keep dancing here.  Some are considering setting up workshops in universities to recruit foreign students that are already in Canada.

I do not want to come across as alarmist or make parents panic that their children will undoubtedly be kidnapped into the industry.  However the reality is that recruitment does happen, and often those who do the recruiting know how to spot the most vulnerable of young women.  MP Joy Smith recently wrote an article about this, sharing stories of people like Natasha Falle, who became a prostitute at a young age and was forced to recruit others through glamorizing prostitution and concealing the violent experiences.  Jay and I recently had a woman come to us after we had given a presentation about prostitution.   She he had chosen to get into prostitution because it seemed glamorous and an easy way to make money, and for the first week she said it did seem that way.  But soon the illusion faded away into something quite hideous.

I realize there are those who claim to call their own shots, choose their own johns, and see paid sex as a respectable profession like any other.  I have never been in the industry myself and cannot speak for these women, or claim that they are lying when they say they want to be in the industry.  Makes me wonder though – if prostitution, stripping, and porn is as wonderful and easy as they make it sound, why are Canadian women not lining up in droves to do it?  Some might argue that it is because they are merely afraid of what society or their families would think.  I believe it runs much deeper than that.

creditThe recruitment efforts of the AEAC brings to mind the credit card industry.  When I went to university, credit card companies desperately wanted to offer me credit way beyond what I had the financial capability to handle.  They would set up their booths (yes, even at universities), and sell me on the amazing promises of paying for education,  building my credit, and having freedom of spending money now.

Handling a credit card is no problem for some young students, who are wise with money and had been warned about falling prey to debt.  But then there are others, who even at 18 years old were not mature enough to handle the responsibility of a credit card.

I know many who are in their 30s and 40s who are still trying to pay for the mistakes of their youth.  The credit card industry is in many cases predatory, preying on the foolishness, immaturity, or unpreparedness of young students.  This is wrong.  Unfortunately, entering the sex industry at a young age has much deeper implications than having credit card debt.  It can ravage you emotionally, physically, and mentally.  Obviously there are many differences between recruiting for credit cards versus for the sex industry, but the key similarity is this:  Both know who to target, because that is where the real money is made.

I support the government’s decision regarding visas for foreign strippers.  They have acknowledged that the industry is rife with exploitation, and are trying to protect people from being abused in this country.  But I think the following must also happen in order for this law to be effective in reducing exploitation:

1.  Foreign workers currently in Canada should be given another type of temporary visa, so that they can find alternative work and not be deported.  Sometimes deportation can be dangerous and put these women at risk.

2.  The government must make decisions that enable real opportunities for young women. I lived in British Columbia for a while where the minimum wage was still at $8.00 last year.  How is a single mom supposed to live on that?  One comment on Smith’s article read:

“Smith would prefer that they got jobs at Subway and McDonald’s instead. Sorry, they’d rather make four times as much cash for doing something they enjoy, being celebrated as attractive.”  

 

Though the person who wrote this comment is misled in thinking that most women in the sex trade “enjoy their work” and feel attractive, they raise a good point about the lack of other, real other job opportunities.  Our economic system needs some major shifting. Social programs are a lifeline to many, and the fact that so many of them are being cut is frightening.  If they are not working as they should, we must make them better, not eliminate them entirely.

3.  We must decrease demand for paid sex.  The deeper issue here is that there is a supply shortfall due to booming demand for the sex trade.  No recruiting would be happening if there was no demand for those services, foreign or domestic.

What do you think about the government’s decision to stop giving out foreign stripper visas, and about the response of the AEAC to recruit domestically?

Michelle

 

 

 

Help Tara Teng Advance to Semi Finals of Miss World 2012

by Michelle Brock on August 1st, 2012

TaraFor those of you who have regularly been following this blog, you’ve seen me write before about Tara Teng, Miss World Canada 2012.  She is currently representing Canada at the Miss World Pageant in China, and needs our help to advance to the semi-finals.

Before I go on, you may be wondering why I am promoting a “beauty queen” on a blog about sex trafficking.  I met Tara when she was still Miss BC, and to be honest was a little skeptical that she would be as passionate about fighting trafficking as she claimed.  Then I met her, and I was blown out of the water.

Don’t believe me?  Check out my interview with Tara, as well as some of her accomplishments to combat human trafficking.  It becomes clear very quickly that her passion is justice and her platform is beauty.  Her titles have already opened up crazy opportunities to fight trafficking all over the world.

The Miss World Pageant is literally the next platform for Tara.  She truly embodies the phrase “beauty with a purpose,” and takes her stewardship extremely seriously.  She is one of the world’s greatest champions for justice, and we get to be part of helping her extend that influence.

Vote Tara Poster

At this point in the competition (which runs from July 18 to August 18), we can help Tara get to the semi-finals by liking the Miss World Canada 2012 facebook page, commenting on it, and sharing Tara’s posts.  The bonus is that if you follow her journey, you will get to see this girl’s heart of gold.  She regularly posts pictures and videos.

Feel free to print this poster and hang it up in your churches, offices, and community bulletin boards:  Tara Teng Poster

As I write this, her page has 2,554 likes.  I’m throwing up the challenge to get this number to at least 2,600 by the weekend!  On your mark, get set…LIKE!

**Wohoo!!!  After 24 hours we’re at over 2,600 likes.  Can we push it to 2,700?

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