Friday, October 12, 2007

Ottawa sex trade [sic] customers, you've got mail

Big whoopee deal.

Ottawa police are literally sending home the message that customers of the city's street-level sex trade [sic] aren't welcome in its neighbourhoods.

[As of this week] a special "community safety letter" will be mailed to the residence of any driver who is stopped by police while talking to prostitutes in certain Ottawa neighbourhoods ...

"The letter is geared to inform the driver of the vehicle, the potential john, that their activity is not wanted in the concerned neighbourhood," said police Supt. Gilles Larochelle. "It's a letter that educates the individual."

The letter warns the driver that there is a "clear correlation" between street prostitution and drug use and that there are health concerns such as HIV and hepatitis. It also says community members are concerned about children finding used needles and condoms in playgrounds and about increased traffic.

Well, golly gee, I guess someone figures that if folks knew better they would do better. So, what ... the Ottawa police figues that these johns just don't know about this "correlation" and that if they did, they would stop using prostitutes? Sure, they're just respectable, hard-working guys looking for a bit of release, eh? No big deal. The fact that the women who provide that release have to numb themselves with drugs to keep on doing it is not their concern, of course. There are more important things to worry about, like covering legal asses (so to speak):

Patrol officers have been told that if they witness a car that appears to be in a neighbourhood to solicit prostitutes, they should talk to and identify the driver. They should also make sure he was speaking with a prostitute, said Larochelle, who confirmed that speaking with a prostitute is not illegal. The letter would then be sent to the driver's home.

That concerns Jack Mackinnon, president of the Civil Liberties Association, National Capital Region. He said the program is well-intentioned, but infringes on people's rights.

Yeah ... but whose rights, exactly? It looks like the only ones who would "suffer" would be those banging drug-addicted women willing to sell their bodies to feed their habit. Clearly, such infringement doesn't concern the residents:

... the program has wide support from residents of inner city neighbourhoods plagued by drugs and prostitution. In fact, police said it was residents who suggested the program in the first place. ...

The program has also won praise from Gordon Keith, president of the Cartier-Vanier Business Improvement Association, who said he wants a clean and safe neighbourhood free of prostitutes that will attract new businesses.

"If there's no johns there, the prostitutes won't be there either," he said. "So let's attack the root of the problem."

Something tells me no one is truly, genuinely interested in attacking "the root of the problem." If they were, they would be doing a whole lot more than sending namby-pamby, euphemistic letters to prowling johns.

This is just more of the "out of sight, out of mind" general mindset of Canada's wealthiest city and seat of the country's power.

Full article here.

Sex "trade" relies on slave labour

The comments in this BBC article indicate what an uphill battle this is ... the cold indifference of some people is mind-boggling. Speaking of cold, it is cash that motivates the exploiters and entraps the victims.

In the industrialised parts of the US and Europe, a forced sex worker earns an average $67,200 per year on behalf of her (or his) master, according to an ILO estimate.

Yet by Bulgarian standards - one of the poorest countries in Europe where the average annual wage is about $2,600. A forced prostitute in the transition countries brings in profits of $23,500, making sex slavery 10 times more lucrative than other forced labour in these countries...

As for the suppliers of the cash that drives this "market"... they are beyond disgusting.

A 2003 survey of 185 clients [sic] ... found that more than three quarters of the respondents "expressed a preference for prostitutes aged 25 or under, 22% preferred those aged 18 or below".

Many of the prostitute clients openly admitted to a preference for young and unfree persons because they are more docile, the report added. ...

Full article here.

Human Trafficking Forum 2007 in Vancouver

The 2007 Forum On Human Trafficking takes place on November 2-3, 2007 in Vancouver in order to help bring forth community, and interfaith partnerships to help provide more awareness of this issue, and to further discover how we can work together in unity to suppress the trafficking of human beings politically and socially.

“The only way for evil to thrive is for good people to do nothing”-Edmund Burke

Each year, the UN estimates that up to 4 million people are trafficked, making it the third largest illegal market after drugs and arms. Trafficking persons has been described as a modern form of slavery. In Canada, the RMCP believes that over 800 of these victims end up on Canadian streets annually, with Asian victims trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, while Eastern European and Latin American victims are more often trafficked to Toronto and Eastern Canada.

Keynote speaker is Victor Malarek, and award-winning journalist who currently works at CTV. In addition to his news reporting, Malarek has written five non-fiction books. His most recent work, The Natashas - The New Global Sex Trade (2003) is about the worldwide sex industry.

Registration details and form here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Video of Roundtable on trafficking now available

A video recording of "Roundtable: HumanTrafficking from Eastern Europe: North American and EU Responses" is now available ...

The roundtable consisted of two separate panels, the first of which focused on human trafficking in the European context. ...[T]he problem of human trafficking from and within Eastern Europe has transcended the transition-from-communism paradigm and has become institutionalized in the region. ...

The second panel focused on Canadian responses to human trafficking. ... [T]he Canadian government offers temporary visas to people who have been trafficked into the country, but it is very difficult for victims to prove that they have been trafficked. Furthermore, the Palermo Protocol against trafficking in persons, to which Canada is a signatory, is an inadequate mechanism for dealing with the issue. According to the Protocol, the main victim of trafficking is the state to which people are trafficked; the people being trafficked are viewed as the "contraband" brought into the country. Thus, the current international approach is one that focuses on international crime as opposed to the violation of the human rights of the victims.

Clearly, human trafficking is a pressing global human rights and crime problem: it is the third most lucrative international crime business after drugs and arms smuggling. Yet, it does not get the attention from governments that would lead to a solution, or at least mitigation, of the crisis. ...

The roundtable took place on Thursday, January 25, 2007. Video is available here.