In 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.
The 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?