Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Supreme Court Strikes Down Prostitution Laws…Now What?

by Michelle Brock on December 20th, 2013

Supreme Court of CanadaToday, the Supreme Court ruled on Canada’s prostitution laws.  Until now in Canada, prostitution itself has been legal but everything around it has been illegal.  For example, it has been against the law to communicate for the purposes of prostitution, to operate within a brothel, or for a third party to make money off of someone who is prostituting.

A group of sex workers challenged these laws, saying that it made the industry dangerous for those selling sex.  Today the Supreme Court ruled in their favour, striking down these three provisions.  In essence, this means that by this time next year, brothels could be legal across the country. Not only that, but a third party will be able to live off the avails of prostitution, and soliciting will no longer be banned.

I have to say that the Supreme Court was in a tricky position on this one.  Ultimately, their role was to clean up a messy law, and their decision did not come as a surprise.  No one thought the existing prostitution laws made sense, but where we go from here is a roaring debate.  Let’s start with the effects of this ruling on the industry as a whole.

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The Bad News?

Demand for paid sex will increase as a result of today’s decision, expanding the entire industry.  And based on the examples of other countries that have chosen to decriminalize and regulate prostitution, sex trafficking will increase.  In a context where the buying and selling of sex are both legal, there are never enough people willing to work in the industry to meet the demand, and traffickers are more than willing to step in to fill the supply side.  In legal contexts where living off the avails is permitted, pimps can disguise themselves as bodyguards and managers to avoid getting prosecuted.  Many Canadian police officers have said that striking down these laws would strip them of tools they often use to convict criminals who are exploiting others.

2014The Good News?

Though the Supreme Court has made its decision, they have given Parliament a one year window to amend the law if they wish to do so.  This means that we have 12 months to rewrite the laws on prostitution altogether, as long as they do not violate the Charter.

Canada now has an opportunity to adopt an approach that has been very successful in Sweden.

If there is enough pressure from Canadian citizens, we could – as a country – usher in a preventative approach that criminalizes the purchase of sex while decriminalizing the selling of it.

This law acknowledges that most people who sell sex do so out of a place of vulnerability and inequality, and therefore should not be treated as criminals.  Instead, it places the responsibility on the buyers, who are fueling the industry in the first place.  The model, which is being adopted in several other countries, decreases sex trafficking and makes commercial sexual exploitation difficult and unprofitable for traffickers.  When coupled with exit programs for those who want to leave prostitution, it is an effective way to target the market and protect the most vulnerable.

You can read MP Joy Smith’s press release to learn more about the Nordic Model.  Here is an excerpt:

“Legalizing prostitution is a direct attack on the fundamental rights and freedoms of women, girls and vulnerable people. In the same regard, continuing to criminalize the women and vulnerable populations being prostituted creates barriers that prevent them from escaping prostitution and entrenches inequality. 

Let’s be clear: those who advocate either approach ignore mounting empirical evidence and will find themselves on the wrong side of history and women’s equality. 

As a nation, we must ensure pimps remain severely sanctioned and prostituted women and girls are not criminalized and instead given meaningful escape routes out of sex work. Most importantly, Canada must focus on the real root of prostitution by targeting the buyers of sex.”  

What You Can Do Now:

1. Fill a Petition.  When new legislation is introduced in the House, petition signatures make a significant impact.  If you want a preventative law that reduces demand for paid sex to be adopted in Canada, please download this petition, get as many signatures as you can, and send it in to the address at the bottom of the sheet.  We have collected thousands of signatures already and need more.  We need broad-based democracy!

Download Petition Here!

2. Write a Letter.  Now is the time to contact your Member of Parliament, Justice Minister Peter MacKay (who made this statement in response to the court’s ruling), and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.  You can get a sample letter here, (adapted from Defend Dignity), and let your representative know that you want Canada to adopt the Nordic Model.

Letters can be addressed to:

The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
313-S Centre Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

The Hon. Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P.
Minister of Justice
Attorney General of Canada
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Email: [email protected]

Name of Your MP 
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

3. Book a Film Screening.  This spring, we are taking our documentary Red Light Green Light on tour across Canada.  It specifically looks at the issue of various prostitution models, and what approaches best prevent sex trafficking.  Check out our tour schedule and sign up to host an event.  

4.  Make a donation.  Support Hope for the Sold as we continue to educate the public about trafficking prevention.  You can make a donation here, or through our Christmas Catalogue!

5.  Follow our Updates. Connecting with us via facebook and twitter will help you keep up to date as Canada’s prostitution laws unfold.

We’re excited to partner with you to prevent commercial sexual exploitation in our country.

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Canada’s Supreme Court to Rule on Prostitution Case Dec. 20

by Michelle Brock on December 16th, 2013

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We’ve just wrapped up the first leg of our the Red Light Green Light  film tour, which took us as far East as Halifax and as far West as Vancouver Island.  So far we’ve done 41 screenings, collected 3,249 signatures in support of the Nordic Model (not including petitions some of you are getting filled at home), participated in over a dozen media interviews, and driven a total of 9,264 km!

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We wanted to get in a quick tour across the country before the Supreme Court decision makes their decision on the Bedford v. Canada prostitution case.  We’ve recently heard that the court will announce their ruling this Friday, December 20.

Whether the court rules in favour of full decriminalization or not, Parliament will have an opportunity to respond to the ruling.  Canada will have a window of time to rewrite the laws on prostitution altogether. If there is enough pressure from Canadian citizens, we could – as a country – usher in a preventative approach that criminalizes the purchase of sex while decriminalizing the selling of it.  This model, which was first adopted in Sweden, decreases sex trafficking and makes commercial sexual exploitation difficult and unprofitable for traffickers.  When coupled with exit programs for those who want to leave prostitution, it is an effective way to target the market and address the vulnerabilities that exist in the industry.

Once Friday’s ruling is announced, we will let you know what you can do to help bring a preventative approach to Canada.  In the meantime, there are three things that can be done.

Briercrest1 300x2251. Host a Spring Tour Event

Starting in April, we are doing a second sweep through Canada with our film, Red Light Green Light.

If you’d like to host a screening in your community, we’ve listed the dates that we plan to be in each area here.  See when we’re in your area and send us a screening request by filling in the form here.

Petitions 192x3002. Fill a Petition

Many of you have signed petitions to bring the Nordic Model to Canada.  We still need loads more signatures, and are looking for petition champions!  Download and print yours here, fill it up with signatures, and send it to the address at the bottom of the petition.  We will take care of getting it to the right people!  Get as many signatures as you can, and don’t worry if the page isn’t full when you send it in.  Each signature from a Canadian citizen counts!

3.  Check out our Christmas Catalogue

Support our spring tour by selecting an item from the Christmas Catalogue for your family and friends!

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Typhoon Haiyan Aftermath: A Crucial Time for YOU to Prevent Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on November 18th, 2013

Source BBC Getty ImagesThe novel Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison begins with the 2006 tsunami crashing into the Indian coast, plunging entire communities into chaos. In the midst of the disorder, two young girls fall prey to traffickers.  This scenario is unfortunately all too real in regions of devastation.

Most natural disasters heighten the vulnerabilities of children who are already at-risk for sexual exploitation.  Typhoon Haiyan is no different.  When a child is separated from their parents or have lost their family altogether, human traffickers have a unique window of opportunity to kidnap and sell them into the sex trade.  In fact, some countries have been known to bar pedophiles from flying to disaster zones, in an effort to stop them from taking advantage of such profound vulnerability.

Source KomoNews

So it is with urgency that I ask you to consider making a donation to relief efforts in the Philippines.  The government of Canada is currently matching donations made by individuals to relief organizations like World Vision.  With 55 years of experience in the Philippines and staff members based throughout the country, they are working closely with government disaster response teams to assist with immediate and long term needs.

Your gift will help bring vital relief to children and families impacted by Typhoon Haiyan, by providing lifesaving essentials and emergency supplies like: food, blankets, household supplies, hygiene kits, shelter and clean drinking water.

Donate online here or call 1-866-595-5550 to make a donation over the phone.

Let’s all jump on board to provide relief for those affected by this typhoon, and by doing so reduce the vulnerabilities of at-risk men, women, and children.

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Miss World Canada 2012 Tara Teng Endorses Red Light Green Light

by Michelle Brock on November 15th, 2013

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Author Mark Buchanan Endorses RED LIGHT GREEN LIGHT Human Trafficking Documentary

by Michelle Brock on October 29th, 2013

Red Light Green Light Mark Buchanan

Photo credit: Kurt Knock

 

 

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The Website is Finally LIVE – (Check Out the Film Trailer Too!)

by Michelle Brock on October 21st, 2013

After much anticipation, I am excited to announce that the Red Light Green Light documentary website is now live!

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Red Light Green Light addresses a critical piece of the anti-trafficking discussion that is often absent: prevention.  Canada is currently reconsidering its prostitution laws, and a deeper understanding of this issue is timely and important for every Canadian who wants to prevent sexual exploitation.  Other countries are also weighing various responses to sex trafficking, making Red Light Green Light an important part of the global discussion.

Share the trailer on facebook and twitter   

Attend a screening

Bring the film to your community  

Become a city champion  

 

website

We’re excited to meet many of you at our upcoming events!

 

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And We’re Off!

by Michelle Brock on October 14th, 2012

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Thanks to the generosity of all of you who have supported Hope for the Sold, we are boarding a plane and headed to Europe to begin filming our documentary!  We can’t express our gratitude for how many of you have been part of this journey.  Our hope is that we can create a film that will help prevent the sale and exploitation of many.  We look forward to meeting people in Europe who are dealing with this issue, and anticipate learning a lot.

For those of you who have contacted us and have not heard back, I apologize.  The weeks leading up to our trip have been quite hectic.

We will update the blog as much as possible while we are on the road!

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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

 

 

 

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Three Teenage Girls Charged with Human Trafficking in Ottawa

by Michelle Brock on June 15th, 2012

Most of you have probably heard the shocking story in the news of three teenage girls in Ottawa who have been charged with trafficking other teenage girls between the ages of 13 and 17 for sex.  This CBC clip brings up some good points about this case.

When I first heard about this, these were the questions that came to mind:

  • Where did these girls learn this behaviour?
  • Were they exploited at one point themselves?
  • Who provided them with the drugs which they used on at least one of the victims?
  • How did they know where “paying customers” were?
  • Was there a promise or lure of money?  Or were their actions driven by threats?  Or both?  

questions3We do not have answers to these questions yet, but here are some things I do know:

It is quite common for traffickers to use their victims to recruit others.  Since most sex trafficking victims are female, and because women are more likely to trust other women, pimps can recruit more victims in a more invisible, risk-free manner.

This would never have happened if it had not been profitable.  If men were not willing to pay for sex, the market for flesh would dry up.  The news loves to focus on supply when the issue is demand.

As my friend Jennifer Lucking from Walk With Me pointed out in this article, technology is a vital part of pimping and exploitation.  The victims were lured through facebook.  Parents need to be aware of their children’s online friends.

What do you think about this?  If these teenage girls are found guilty, what kind of punishment is suitable?  Should they be punished at all?  How do you think we can protect kids from falling prey to these types of situations without robbing them of free will completely?  Do you think a 15 year old is capable of pimping without outside involvement?  Would love to hear your comment below.

Whatever unfolds over the coming weeks, this case is a reminder to us that there are cracks in our society which young boys and girls can falls through, and it is our responsibility to prevent those vulnerabilities.  Please, would you consider making a Personal Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking in response to this horrific and sad trafficking case?

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