Some concerned HFTS readers recently sent me articles about a shocking proposal coming from Toronto Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti: the creation of a red light district on Toronto Island. This really should not come as a surprise, as a regulated brothel district was one of Mammoliti’s central campaign tenets in his (cut-short) run for mayor last year.
His argument? It would provide millions of dollars in revenue for the city and provide a well-defined area where the sex trade can flourish. Mammoliti told CBC news that such a place would increase Toronto tourism as well, and is planning to discuss it with Toronto’s mayor Rob Ford soon.
In response to these developments, I am writing a letter to both the councillor and the mayor (you can read it here). I would encourage our readers, especially those living in Toronto, to write to them as well. Contact information for Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti is:
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West, Suite B27
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2 email@example.com
Mayor Rob Ford’s contact information is:
Office of the Mayor
Toronto City Hall,
100 Queen St. West,
Toronto ON M5H 2N2 firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some points you can include in your letter:
- Though a sex island would probably increase tourism, are large groups of men seeking paid sex the kind of tourist we want more of?
- When Amsterdam lifted its brothel ban and began a regulated prostitution industry, sex trafficking became easier and organized criminal groups moved into the area. The City Council has since tried to back track by shutting down huge sections of the red light district and the mayor has called the lifting of the brothel ban an abysmal failure.
- When demand for paid sex begins to increase, it will be impossible to contain it to an island. Brothels, massage parlours, and escort services will likely spring up in other parts of Toronto as well.
I will give Mammoliti the benefit of the doubt that he is simply seeking tax revenues and is unaware of the implications a red light district would have on Toronto Island and the rest of the city as well. Now it is our responsibility to tell him that the big picture looks very different, and that increasing demand for paid sex is a recipe for more sex trafficking, exploitation of women, and organized crime. An island like the one proposed would draw crowds for the novelty of it, and it would be difficult to back track later on.
For articles on Giorgio Mammoliti’s proposal, check these out:
- Red light district pitched for Toronto Island by CBC News
- Mammoliti pushes for Toronto Island brothels by TheStar.com
Get more informed on the legalization debate – this will help you as you write your letters/emails. You can also download and sign this letter from EVE and send it to your member of Parliament. Special thanks to Carly Romano for raising this to my attention and dialogging with me this weekend!
September 2012 update: we are making a documentary about legalization of prostitution, its connection to sex trafficking, and preventative models that decrease sexual exploitation. Here is how you can help!