Archive for the ‘Resources’ Category

The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence

by Michelle Brock on April 23rd, 2014

For more info, check out The Locust Effect website.






Ontario’s Prostitution Ruling Misrepresented the Evidence, Contravening Case Law & the Charter, Scholar Finds

by Michelle Brock on July 5th, 2012

Court of AppealA scholarly paper concludes that Bedford v. Canada erroneously rewrote the law against “living on the avails of prostitution” on basis of misrepresented as well as faulty evidence, and contravenes prior Supreme Court cases and the Charter by making prostituted persons more vulnerable to exploitation.

To date, living “on the avails of prostitution of another person” has been illegal in Canada. That law was challenged in the Court of Appeal for Ontario in Bedford v. Canada on March 26, 2012. The court essentially found that the law prevented prostituted persons to benefit from third parties such as brothel management, escort agencies, bodyguards, or drivers — all whom were perceived as able to enhance the safety and well-being of prostituted persons. Hence, the avails provision was rewritten by the court, stating that it “applies only to those” who live on the avails “’in circumstances of exploitation.’”

Now, a recent working paper from Stockholm University penned by Max Waltman, a PhD Candidate at their Department of Political Science, concludes that the Court of Appeal for Ontario erroneously rewrote the law against “living on the avails of prostitution” on basis of misrepresented as well as faulty evidence, and as a result made prostituted persons more vulnerable to exploitation. The paper highlights how the Bedford ruling contravenes previous Supreme Court cases on prostitution, and is inconsistent with equality guarantees under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Waltman suggests a different decision based on the notion of equality under the Charter’s case law, which would effectively endorse the Swedish prostitution law in Canada that criminalizes purchasers and pimps, and decriminalizes prostituted persons. The case will now head to the Supreme Court. (If you are new to the Bedford ruling, and want to get caught up on the basics, you can read a clear description of the decision here.)

When the Court of Appeal for Ontario’s decision was handed down this spring I had some questions about their ruling, including the following:

  • How did the Court of Appeal come to its conclusion? What research influenced their decision? 
  • How did the decision align with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms? 
  • Can the Ontario Court of Appeal’s rewrite of the Criminal Code regarding “circumstances of exploitation” prevent exploitation in prostitution effectively? 

On a hunt for some answers, I contacted Max Waltman to give me his thoughts on the ruling. Waltman has written about legal challenges to pornography and prostitution that effectively challenged them as practices violating equality and other human rights in democratic systems, focusing on judicial and legislative politics in Canada, Sweden, and the United States. He has previously published in the Michigan Journal of International Law (2011), Women’s Studies International Forum (2011), Political Research Quarterly (2010), and in the popular press, among others New York Times (2012) and the Toronto Star (2011). Waltman, who has family ties with Ontario through his late father who was brought up and spend half his life there, realized that the country and province which he previously admired for their commitment to social equality and solidarity had moved to a position where, if no one intervened, they will become the haven for traffickers and pimps across North America.

Though Waltman had initially agreed to an interview, the final result was a full, in-depth working paper that examines the evidence and arguments relied on by the Court of Appeal for Ontario. The paper finds that the evidence did not support their decision. In practice the rewrite makes prostituted people, a group which is already subject to intersectional and multiple disadvantages, even more exposed and vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Accordingly, the paper concludes that the Bedford decisions violate previous Supreme Court case law as well as they contravene the Charter’s section 15’s substantive equality guarantee, which impels a different decision. The paper further states that by upholding the existing criminalization of purchasers and third parties where they apply, and invalidating the criminalization of prostituted people — persons whom should rather be entitled to social support if the wish to leave prostitution, and rights to damages from purchasers and pimps for having violated their equality and dignity — Canada would, consistent with the Charter, promote equality and facilitate for prostituted persons to leave prostitution, which the overwhelming majority say they want. A similar law already exists in Sweden, and has reduced prostitution many times compared to neighboring countries.

I am honoured to share this paper with you, and believe its content to be of paramount importance for Canada’s decision makers on this issue. Please download the paper below, take some time to read it thoroughly, and spread it around.

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You can download the full working paper from the Social Sciences Research Network here, entitled “Ontario Disempowers Prostituted Persons: Assessing Evidence, Arguments & Substantive Equality in Bedford v. Canada.” It is a great read, and the download is FREE!


This is exactly the kind of analysis we need as the issue of prostitution moves to the Supreme Court of Canada.  Thank you, Max, for taking the time to write such a well-researched, thorough piece, to better equip us to prevent sex trafficking and exploitation in this country.






And the Winner of Invisible Chains is…

by Michelle Brock on August 16th, 2011

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Thanks to all of you who sent in photos or commented on the Resilience photo essay!  I wrote down all your names and used to select the winner.  Andrew, your name corresponded with the selected number, so send me your mailing address and I will send you a copy of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. Congrats!!

invisible chainsFor the rest of you, check out:

Hopefully this will get the rest of you to buy the book, as it really is a fantastic resource and I promise you will not be disappointed.

Michelle Brock


Project SECLUSION: Summary of Findings

by Michelle Brock on April 3rd, 2011

Sad Girl1Several months ago I received a report from the Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre known as Project SECLUSION.  It is a national overview of trafficking operations in Canada and addresses organized crime involvement, transnational associations, source countries, and challenges faced by law enforcement.  It is not intended to be a guide on how to investigate human trafficking but serves as a baseline tool in enforcement efforts.  Here are some key findings:

  • Human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation has been mostly associated with organized prostitution occurring discreetly behind fronts, like escort agencies and residential brothels.  These are extremely difficult for law enforcement to detect without proactive investigations.
  • Human trafficking suspects usually share similar ethnicity with their associates and have ethnic ties to source countries of their migrant workers.
  • Many human trafficking suspects have been linked to other organized criminal activities, such as conspiracy to commit murder, credit card fraud, mortgage fraud, immigration fraud, and organized prostitution, in Canada or abroad.
  • Organized crime networks with Eastern European links have been involved in the organized entry of women from former Soviet States into Canada for employment in escort services in the Greater Toronto Area and possibly in massage and escort services in the Montreal area.  These groups have demonstrated transnational capabilities and significant associations with convicted human traffickers in the Czech Republic, Germany, Belarus, and Israel.
  • Domestic human trafficking victims have mostly been recruited through the internet or by an acquaintance.  The victims were groomed, manipulated, and coerced to enter the sex trade.
  • Some victims of domestic human trafficking have been underage girls exploited through prostitution in exotic dance clubs and/or escort services. Control tactics employed by traffickers to retain victims in exploitative situations include social isolation, forcible confinement, withholding identification documents, imposing strict rules, limitation of movement, as well as threats and violence.
  • African nationals who were identified as victims of human trafficking were trafficked for sexual exploitation outside of and before arriving to Canada.

You can download the entire PDF report here:  SECLUSION_Unclassified_EN Final version

I am also currently reading another article that specifically focuses on methodology of trafficking research and what approaches Canada must take when measuring this clandestine activity.  This will be particulatly helpful for those of you getting into trafficking research.  Summary of that coming soon!

Michelle Brock


Send an Online Greeting Card & Help Stop Human Trafficking: Love 146 is Your One-Stop Shop!

by Michelle Brock on October 7th, 2010

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I recently found these cool online greeting cards from Love 146, a great organization that fights sex trafficking.  Pick the one you want from these options and make a donation in the name of the one you are sending it to.  Below are a couple samples, and you can check out the full selection here.  Happy browsing!

Michelle Brock

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Gentlemen, Time to Shake in Your Boots: MP Joy Smith is on the Move!

by Michelle Brock on September 16th, 2010

Though buying sex is generally frowned upon in Canada, most of the time men who use massage parlours or escort services receive a slap on the wrist or nothing at all. But if MP Joy Smith had it her way, Canada would be addressing demand for paid sex in a much more vigorous manner. Why? Because demand creates supply. In a sense, targeting demand is like repairing a hole in your sinking raft instead of merely trying to get the water out.

Addressing demand is just one of the brilliant initiatives MP Joy Smith is proposing in her fresh-off-the-press proposal for a national action plan called Connecting the Dots: A Proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. I had the privilege of attending a round table meeting in Toronto last week with a bunch of stakeholders in Ontario to discuss what our part should be as a province, and was happy to see that many of the ideas in our conversation are reflected in MP Joy Smith’s proposal. As I read the proposal I was literally squirming in my seat from excitement because a National Action Plan is most certainly the next necessary step for our country.

MP Joy Smith’s recommendations are bang on, and I found the document itself to be written in a way that is easy to understand. She has record of getting things done in Parliament, and I am thrilled to have someone like her lead us in this next phase.

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Over the next little while I would like to discuss the different sections of this proposal and hear what your thoughts are. I believe that conversation is what sparks ideas and I am anxious to know yours! Maybe this will give you some ideas about how you can use your strengths to get involved. You can read the full document here.

The first section I wish to highlight is what Canada has already done (pp.9-11 of the report), because unfortunately many Canadians are unaware that our country has been making some serious efforts in the past nine years. On the global stage, Canada has signed and ratified a number of international agreements related to human trafficking, and nationally it has done the following:

  • 2001: introduced the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) which addresses human trafficking and provides serious penalties with fines of up to $1 million or up to life imprisonment.
  • May 2006: the first National Human Trafficking Coordination Centre was staffed with RCMP officers and a civilian analyst.
  • May 2006: the Canadian government announced Temporary Residence Permits (TRPs) would be available to international victims of human trafficking. A permit would allow a victim to stay in Canada for up to 120 days and provided access to healthcare and social assistance. Victims would not be required to participate in legal proceedings or testify to receive a TRP.
  • March 2007: the federal Finance Minister announced $6 million annually for law enforcement to assist in protecting children from online sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
  • May 2007: the federal goverment announced amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to end a loophole where vulnerable foreign workers were being brought to Canada for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
  • June 2007: New measures to protect victims where announced by the government, including the extension of the TRP from 120 days to 180 days, and letting international victims to apply for work and resident permits without the regular fees.
  • September 2009: the Canadian government supported the passage of Bill C-268, minimum sentence of child traffickers. (Thanks to those of you who made your voice heard by writing to your MPs and Senators!)
  • September 2010: Canadian government joined the RCMP to launch the Crime Stoppers Blue Blindfold Campaign to bring awareness about human trafficking to Canadian citizens and provide opportunities for Canadians to help combat human trafficking.

Wow. Good work Canada. It’s nice to know that this issue is gaining priority in our government. But as MP Joy Smith says, “there remains an urgent need for a collaborative, federally-led approach to combat human trafficking that would connect the dots among federal/provincial/territorial agencies and NGOs.” Let’s all be a part of how that happens, and start by reading the proposal.

For more on this, check out the official release and an article by Montreal Gazette.

Michelle Brock


A Great Guy with a Great Book: Announcing Benjamin Perrin’s Upcoming "Invisible Chains" Tour!

by Michelle Brock on August 27th, 2010

Benjamin Perrin with Hope for the Sold2

When my husband Jay and I drove across Canada to make the Hope for the Sold documentary about sex trafficking, we met and interviewed Canada’s leading expert on the issue, UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin.

invisible chains8This guy knew his stuff so well that we barely had to ask questions to prompt him in the interview!  As we were leaving and the elevator doors were closing, he stuck his hand into the elevator to give us more reading material – our hour with him was well spent to the last minute. Not only has Benjamin done his research, but from the moment you meet him it is evident that he is passionate about the fight for justice and helping people.

So it is with excitement that I introduce to you Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking by Benjamin Perrin.  The book is coming out this fall on October 5, and you can pre-order it here.  Invisible Chains is the first book about trafficking in Canada, which I believe is a necessary step if we are to end sexual exploitation and modern-day slavery in our country.

Here are the book tour dates:

Tickets are free but make sure to reserve your spot!

Michelle Brock


The Candy Shop: A Fairytale About Child Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on August 2nd, 2010


candyshopcanesWhitestone Motion Pictures is currently working on a short film in the fantasy genre called The Candy Shop, starring Pan’s Labyrinth‘s Doug Jones.  Its purpose is to raise awareness about the sex trafficking of children, but uses creative, fairytale images and metaphor to tell the story.

It is based in a city the dirty thirties, where a young boy notices a candy shop across the street from his fruit stand.  An evil-looking man sells candy to a specific group of customers, and soon the boy discovers that this man is snatching little girls off the street, turning them into pieces of candy in a machine in his basement, and selling them to the hungry patrons who frequent his store.  Check out this promo video:

As director Brandon McCormick says in his blog, this is quite possibly the “most important film” he will ever get to make.  Sex trafficking has been an issue on his heart for many years, and making this film is like a dream come true.

The Candy Shop is coming out in November, and all the proceeds are going to Street Grace, a non-denominational alliance of churches, community partners, and volunteers whose goal is to bring an end to commercial sexual exploitation in Atlanta and duplicate these efforts in cities across America.

So let’s keep our eyes open for this excellent film!  You can follow Whitestone Motion Pictures on twitter to get regular updates and premiere info.  We will let you know on HFTS about how you can get your hands on The Candy Shop and spread it at anti-trafficking events and among your friends.

To Brandon McCormick and The Candy Shop team, keep up the great work and know that we at HFTS are excited to see your masterpiece and put an end to sexual exploitation together!

Michelle Brock


In the Spotlight: Lilya 4 EVER

by Michelle Brock on July 20th, 2010

Lilya 4 ever posterI am always on the lookout for films about sex trafficking, and finally had the opportunity to check out Lilya 4 EVER (2002), a movie about a 16 year-old girl from the former Soviet Union whose mother abandons her to move to the U.S.  It is loosely based on a true case and sheds light on the sex trafficking of Eastern European girls to Scandinavia and Western Europe.

I generally place movies in one of two categories – those I can eat popcorn with and those that I cannot.  Lilya 4 EVER falls into the latter.  My stomach is in a knot as I watch this young girl’s abandonment and the vulnerability that she experiences.

We often like to think that trafficking victims are beautiful, middle-class girls from healthy families that are kidnapped and robbed of their innocence. This is what movies like Taken portray, probably because it is easy to fight for these types of girls.  But what about the girls who come from impoverished families? Girls whose lives have been destroyed by drug use?  Girls who, out of desperation, have sold their bodies on the streets before being trafficked into forced prostitution?  Do we still have compassion for them? Or do we consider them to be tainted and not worth fighting for because of poor choices they made before they were trafficked?

This movie brings this questions to the forefront.  In my mind, it is a realistic storyline that shows trafficking for what it is.  It is ugly and violent.  It targets those who have fallen through the cracks of society.  It has reminded me that there are many hurting kids with no parents who need a loving home.

You can watch the full version of the film below.  Please be warned that this is NOT for children and has violence and nudity. I have battled with myself whether or not to post this, but have decided to leave it with our readers to have discretion whether this is something they want to view or not.  For those of you who do watch it, I would love to hear your response to the film.

Michelle Brock


Do You Travel for Business? Here’s What You Can Do to Fight Sex Trafficking

by Michelle Brock on June 23rd, 2010

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One group that traffickers profit from is travelling business men. Far from their wives, kids, and friends back home, it is easier to pay for sex while travelling than it would be at home.  There is an element of anonymity to it, which many guys prefer when seeking out sex for pay.

Unfortunately, human trafficking victims fall prey to these customers, and sometimes it is not that easy to tell the difference between a sex worker and a trafficking victim.

But just as business men can be part of the problem, they can also be part of the solution.  Business Travellers Against Human Trafficking is a great online source for those who travel and want to do good.

The site offers the following:

  • Articles about sex trafficking
  • Info videos about sex trafficking
  • A list of signs to look for to spot a human trafficking victim
  • A way to report what you have seen
  • A list of things you can do, as a traveller, to stop trafficking

I hope this is a good resource for those of you who take your work on the road.  For more information on anti-trafficking efforts in the area of tourism, check out the UN’s Tourism Code of Conduct. For another list of signs to identify a sex trafficking victim, check out Red Flags by the Polaris Project.

Michelle Brock