Friday, November 16, 2007

Help Vancouver's mayor understand the danger of legal brothels

The Temple Committee Against Human Trafficking at Montreal's Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom (which includes the senior rabbi) is calling on all concerned individuals to send (literally) this message to the mayor of Vancouver:

We are concerned about a proposal that seeks approval to open legal brothels in Vancouver in time for the Olympic Games of 2010.

We are concerned that Mayor Sam Sullivan believes that this would reduce violence against women enslaved in these brothels.

Prostitution is an inherently violent activity against women. Legal brothels will open the door to more human trafficking, as witnessed in places such as Germany, The Netherlands, Australia and Las Vegas.

More human trafficking means more exploitation, enslavement and abuse of women.

Prostitution is not sex between two consenting adults. Research shows that most of these women are duped or coerced into this most heinous human rights abuse.

If you agree with the above, please copy it, sign and email to Mayor Sam Sullivan of Vancouver on December 5, 2007.

Please follow your email with a hard copy to the Mayor’s office:
Mayor Sam Sullivan,
Vancouver City Hall
53 West 12th Avenue
Vancouver, B.C. V5Y 1V4

They will be sending the Mayor a package of information on human trafficking on December 5th. It would be good if he also received a flood of messages and letters "helping" him to see the error of his ways, since he seems to have some problem doing so on his own.

A standard letter mailed within Canada is $0.52. A first-class letter mailed from the United States (less than 1 ounce) is $0.69.

A few minutes and less than $1 in postage seems hardly much to ask of those fortunate enough not be sharing the fate of the enslaved.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Speaking of being silenced...

I just heard from a reliable inside source that citizens of the United Arab Emirates have been blocked access to a website that exposes the rampant institutionalized sex abuse in that country.

If you go the site, which is called Sexual Terrorism, you will notice, I guess, why the authorities wouldn't be crazy about that kind of buzz being created in their affluent little corner of the world.

So, please go there and comment. Help make it the most talked about site in the blogosphere.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Anonymous commenting

I just got a comment on an old post from back in December of last year. The anonymous commenter apparently considered my opinion uninformed .. but rather than providing more information he/she chose to try and intimidate me into silence.

I find that kind of anonymous commenting troubling ... for all I know it could be someone I know. I have no idea who it is, although the commenter certainly knows who I am. That is playing dirty, I think.

I've always allowed anonymous comments on this blog. The idea is to allow people who are shy or even afraid of retribution to still be part of the public discourse and have their opinions and voices heard.

However, this rather unfriendly and vaguely threatening anonymous comment did set me back a bit and made me wonder if perhaps I should change my policy.

But I won't. That may well have been the intention. And I will not allow myself or anyone else to be silenced by someone who doesn't have the courage or decency to identify him/herself when challenging an assumption in public.

A point I made in my response to Mr. or Ms. Anonymous.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Ordinary" professionals identifed as kiddie porn purchasers

No doubt this is just a drop in the cesspool that consumers of porn swim in. But, it's good that at least some action is being taken.

It would be ideal if the names of these otherwise "respectable" consumers were made public. Surely the self-absorbed, irresponsible consumers of kiddie porn should be made to endure the unpleasant consequences of their reprehensible behaviour. Seems only fair, given what the (sex) objects of their "affection" have had to endure.

Read this and weep:

Scot arrested in child porn probe

... More than 90 people in eight countries have so far been arrested in connection with a website selling tailor-made videos of abuse. ... a 59-year-old man has been charged. ... the Italian-based website had 2,500 customers in 19 countries. ...

The images were mainly made in the [sic] Ukraine, Belgium and the Netherlands and most of the victims were Ukrainian. ... The investigation began in July 2006, when police in Australia found a video on the internet showing an adult abusing two young girls.

The girls were identified by police in Belgium and the offender, their father, was arrested.

He in turn led investigators to the producer of the video, an Italian man who operated in Belgium and the Netherlands but also owned a studio in Ukraine.

... the customers came from many different countries and all walks of life.

"They are from all layers of society. We have identified schoolteachers, swimming instructors, lawyers, IT specialists"...

... the videos had been "tailor made", with customers ordering specific acts to be performed by specific children. In some cases the children had been made to hold a piece of paper with the customer's name on, like a "personal trophy"....

A total of 23 children aged between nine and 16 who were shown being abused have been identified. Of those, 21 are from Ukraine and two from Belgium. ...

Full article here. If you have the stomach for it.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Vancouver trafficking forum update

Last weekend's Human Trafficking Forum in Vancouver was very well-attended even though the local media basically ignored it. I was in fact the only media person there, and I went as a paying participant rather than working media.... altho of course I will still be writing it up.

Victor Malarek gave another mesmerizing keynote address on Friday night about the realities of human trafficking and the grim lives of the victims. I've heard speak him before and interviewed him twice on my program and he never fails to impress an audience with his passion and knowledge. He got (not surprisingly) a standing ovation.

Saturday consisted of a series of lectures and discussions with locals. It was a very intense day, coming on the heels of a very busy work week for me. And unfortunately I slept in and missed the first session, which was about a new global initiative on trafficking. My profound apologies to my non-Canadian readers for that. I will try and find out from someone who was there what it was about, and post it here.

There was a fair bit of focus on the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics, amid concern that Whistler and Vancouver are in danger of becoming the world's hottest whorehouse for 17 days.

While this is of course a valid concern, quite frankly, to me it seems to smack of NIMBYism a bit. It's all very well and good to let the traffickers and pimps know that we are not open for business here, but really, what message does that send... really? Pretty much just "Go elsewhere." (And what message does that send to their victims?)

Of course I am in favour of letting scumbag traffickers and pimps know that their business is not welcome here in 2010. But it shouldn't end there. Hopefully, it won't.

To be fair, I did come out of the forum assured that some positive strides are being made ... on the home front at least. Liberal Senators Mobina Jaffer and Gerard Phelan spoke about their work to push through Bill S-222, a private member's bill toughening up the wishy-washy current bill to amend the criminal code in regard to human trafficking. BC's provincial government has, I found out there, opened something called the Office for Combatting the Trafficking of Persons about 3 months ago ... but good luck finding their website or even a mention of it on the government's website.

Apart from government lip service, it does seem that public awareness is growing, and there is a bit more media attention given to the matter. The forum was organized by a local Catholic group and there were a number of Roman Catholic nuns there. They are actually working very hard (and, it seems, effectively) to raise awareness. They are also working to provide services and support to victims of trafficking... and as such walking the walk as so many just talk the talk.

I'll be posting more this week as I sift through the reams of notes I took as well as the backlog of articles I haven't had a chance to comment on yet.

More reasons why legalizing prostitution would be a disaster

I would ask all those who are under the illusion that the ludicrous notion of legalizing (or decriminalizing) prostitution has anything to do with protecting women to watch this video.

Then, after hearing survivors who managed to exit the wonderful "sex trade" tell their harrowing and heart-breaking stories, come back and tell me again why it is such a good idea.

Oh, yes and tell me what you thought about the part where the unemployed air hostess in the Netherlands was told to go to work in a brothel in order to re-enter the work force, and whether you would be happy if EI presented such an option to you ... or your daughter.

Think about it. Is this what we want in our country, too? For our daughters and grandaughters, nieces, cousins, sisters, aunts and mothers to be forced BY THE STATE into a degrading and potentially life-threatening situation?

And don't tell me it wouldn't happen here. Why wouldn't it ... when the precedent has already been set in the model country for legalized prostitution?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Victor Malarek to speak in Vancouver tonight

Tonight the forum on human trafficking here in Vancouver starts, and I'll be heading over to the Polish community centre to hear keynote speaker Victor Malarek and connect with like-minded locals.

Tomorrow will be a full day with speakers on a new global initiative on human trafficking for NGOs, a national (Canadian) perspective on human trafficking, combatting human trafficking in BC, and implications for 2010.

Will keep you posted...