Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada Transcript
Caption: 1502 First enslaved Africans in the New World. 1564 – 1569: Sir John Hawkins, the first English slave trader takes 1,200 Africans across the Atlantic to sell to the Spanish. 1698 The slave trade is opened officially to private traders. 1705 The Virginia General Assembly declares that all slaves shall be held as real estate. Masters who kill a slave are free from all punishment. 1786 Abolitionist Thomas Clarkson’s ‘An essay on the slavery and commerce of the human species’ is published. 1787 The Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade is founded. 1790 William Wilberforce presents the first abolition bill to the House of Commons. 1807 The Trans-Atlantic slave trade is abolished by the British Parliament.
Caption: But slavery has not been abolished. An estimated 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders annually. Most of these are women and children destined for the sex trade. Organized crime ranks in up to $12 billion (USD) annually from human trafficking operations. After drugs and weapons, human beings are the most trafficked commodity in the world.
Caption: Hope for the Sold presents Enslaved and Exploited: The Story of Sex Trafficking in Canada
Caption: Sex Trafficking: The recruitment, harbouring, transportation, provision, obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act.
Benjamin Perrin (UBC Law Professor, Founder of the Future Group): The whole idea behind trafficking is not someone is moved. That’s what we often think of. Where were they moved and that. It’s actually treating them as property. They’re exploited. Anyone’s who’s providing a service or work or being abused, because they’re afraid, that is defined as human trafficking in Canada.
Narrator: Every day around the world millions of women and children are forced to sell their bodies. Trafficking routes cross all oceans, leaving no country untouched. Cambodian children are sold to brothel owners by impoverished parents. Some are kidnapped off the streets of Mexico and sold into neighboring countries. Young women from Eastern Europe seek jobs as nannies or models in North America only to have their dreams shattered when their passports are confiscated upon arrival and they are put to work at massage parlours and strip clubs.
Caption: “To the casual observer, they blend in seamlessly with the women who have chosen to take money for sex. In their cheap makeup, sleazy outfits, stiletto heels, they walk the same walk and talk the same talk. They smile, they wink, they pose, and they strut, but they do it because they know what will happen if they don’t.” – Victor Malarek, The Natashas
Victor Malarek (Author, Senior Reporter with CTV’s W5): When I was in Kosovo and we rescued six girls out of a brothel in Feresai where a whole bunch of U.S. peacekeepers and other peacekeepers were abusing these young girls, this one, she’s a Romania girl was about 18 years. Looked at her passport, she looked like she was going to see the world. She ends up in this horrific place. She had cigarette butt burns all up and down the backs of her arms, all down her back and the backs of her legs. For me, every cigarette burn was when she said, “No.”
Caption: “They have to stand for hours a day while men come and look over them. They look at their breasts, the color of their skin and check to see if they have rashes or pimples. The girls have to dress up to look like prostitutes and put on makeup. Those who resist are isolated, beaten, and terrorized.” – Anna Eva Radicetti, quoted in The Natashas : Inside the New Global Sex Trade.
Caption: Getting Our Language Right
Sharon Di Fruscia (Human Rights Activist): If we say somebody’s a prostitute, it really has a negative connotation and so if we say they’ve been prostituted, it makes a big difference. We have to change our language.
Victor Malarek: We have this image in our head. Once we hear the word prostitute, we just write them off. These are women with gaudy makeup and cheap clothes and come-hither smiles. They are the lowest of the low. They are making money the easy way on their back. All of these inane clichés out there about these women. When you look at it, the vast majority of women and girls involved in the sex trade, in the flesh trade, domestically, internationally, have serious problems, have been forced into it and they need help.
Caption: Destination Canada. The RCMP estimates that 800 to 1,200 people are trafficked in and through Canada annually.
Sharon Di Fruscia: You heard like some vague reference to white slavery and whatever in far away countries.
Benjamin Perrin: Until 2006 there was no field in the Immigration Department’s databases to track human trafficking cases. None whatsoever. When we asked questions of the analyst at Citizenship and Immigration Canada, “How many victims of human trafficking were there between 2000 and 2006?” And their answer is, “We do not know.” They have no idea. Why? Because they never tracked it.
Caption: In a report, the Future Group gave Canada a failing grade to aid victims of human trafficking. As a result the federal government brought in measures in 2006 to provide temporary support for these victims.
Benjamin Perrin: I went to law school and it was during my second year that I got a phone call from a local paper in Calgary, where I grew up, the Calgary Herald. They said, “We just wanted to hear what you thought about something.” “Well, what’s that?” “Oh, it’s about human trafficking.” And I thought they were going to ask me about a problem in Cambodia, a case we were working on maybe. And instead they said, “Well, actually it’s here in Calgary.”
Det. Cam Brookes (Calgary Police): January of 2003, Operation Relaxation commenced and it was simply an investigation into the massage industry in Calgary. We looked a specific massage studios that we suspected were fronts for prostitution. The investigation had an undercover component to it. The undercover component revealed to us that there were two suspects in Calgary who were in the massage industry that claimed they had the ability to import, or traffic I guess if you will, women from overseas to Calgary to work in the massage industry.
Benjamin Perrin: And the police had raided a series of massage parlours in 2003 and found dozens of women from Southeast Asia who were being forced into prostitution. They’d been brought to Canada and when they got here, they were kept confined. They were told they had massive debts that they could never repay to the people who brought them to our country and they were being exploited in one of the massage parlours just two blocks from an elementary school in Calgary.
People in Calgary know a place called Peter’s Drive-In. It’s a famous burger joint. Families go there. I went there as a kid to have milkshakes every summer. This place where these women were being abused was just down the road from Peter’s Drive-In.
This wasn’t in a seedy area of town. It was in a house, a residence, like any other. You had no idea driving down the road that there were victims of modern day slavery in that neighborhood.
Caption: Girls are told to start paying back their ‘food and travel debt’ to their traffickers upon arrival, and are often forced to service between 500 and 700 men before the debt is paid. Victims are often threatened with the safety of their family back home if they refuse to perform what is asked of them.
Victor Malarek: I wanted to find out just how easy it would be to purchase women from Moscow or Kiev, whatever, and get them into Canada. So, I posed, basically, “Okay I need some women for a strip club and I also really need them to service the guys. Met this guy Ludvig Klienberg, also known as ‘Tarzan’, real reprobate, real Neanderthal knuckle-dragger, beats up women, thinks he’s something else, you know. He had all of the connections ready for me within a week. He would bring in six, seven, 12, whatever I needed, women and guaranteeing me absolutely no problems with them. “I can get them in here for you and they will never cause you a problem.” Now, I understand what he means by that. These young women have been taken to the breaking grounds where they have been gang raped, where they’ve been pressured, gang pressured, into this so-called profession never to speak out. And they’re going to come to this country not even speaking a word of English, so who they going to run to?
Benjamin Perrin: Between 2006 and 2008 there were four countries around the world that were the top countries for Canada’s human trafficking source. And they together represented about three quarters of all victims of human trafficking in Canada. So, traffickers have really focused. And the countries were China, the Philippines, Romania, and Moldova.
Caption: Victims from Latin America, Africa and the Caribbean have also been identified.
Caption: BIG BUSINESS. The cost of buying a woman in the flesh market can be up to $25,000 CAD. One victim will bring in $2,000 to $5,000 a day for her owner.
Benjamin Perrin: They only are being exploited because of the lucrative profits that can be earned from it. And it is big, big money. One of the first convicted traffickers in Canada, Imani Nakpangi, he made $360,000 off of sexually exploiting and trafficking a girl between the ages of 15 and 17 and a half years old. So, a two and a half year period, he earned $360,000. Over a six figure salary, per year, that he’s earning off of her by abusing her. That’s a heck of a lot of money and that’s only one victim.
Caption: A woman can be bought on the streets of Montreal for only $2,000.
Caption: Toronto Sun.
Timea Nagy: A lot of people say that victims don’t talk. I understand why they’re not talking. I was one of them for ten years, but I know they’re out there and I know I’m not the only one.
Tamara Cherry (Sun Media): Nobody really knows how many people are being enslaved in Canada. Some estimate there are hundreds while others say thousands. There are the nannies, construction workers, and more often than not, sex workers—working for free and against their wills. Experts agree that human trafficking doesn’t get the attention that it deserves—not by the public, not by the police, and not by the politicians.
Eleven years ago Timea Nagy landed at Pearson International Airport having been trafficked here from Budapest, Hungary. At 19, she had accomplished more than most teenagers. He hosted her own TV show and produced music videos. But when the money ran out, she answered an ad to work in Canada. She thought she would be a nanny, a housekeeper, maybe even a go-go dancer. Instead, her first night here was spent at a strip club, where within 30 minutes, she says, she was changed into a different person.
Caption: Timea was told she had to strip to pay back what her traffickers spent on her plane ticket.
Timea Nagy: Now, you owe us so much more money, so we’re going to have different kinds of jobs. We’re going to take you to a workplace and show you how you can make the money back faster. I said, “Okay.” I say, “What do you mean faster.” He’s like, “Look. Your brother works at this and this place, right?” I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Well, if you don’t want us to go and collect the money from him too, if you know what I mean, then you’re going to have to help us make the money back quicker.” So, it was not like, “I’m going to kill you” or whatever. He just named my brother and the place he works at.
Caption: Timea was put on a stage that night.
Timea Nagy: Everything just sinked in and I’m holding the pole and I’m trying to walk “sexy”, whatever that means, and I turn around and there’s a mirror behind me and all of a sudden I see myself in a silver tacky dress, short, high heels, way too much makeup, and I was just shocked. I saw this person I’d never seen before and it just sinked in that I’m in a strip joint half naked about to get naked in front of, I don’t even know who.
Caption: Timea was given fake documents and a set of rules to live by.
Timea Nagy: This is the rules. We gonna work six days a week. We gonna drive you. Don’t be late from the car from the parking lot, because if you're late it’s 50 dollars every five minutes you’re late. In the club don’t talk to anybody. We’re going to be there to make sure you okay. We gonna watch you, basically. Every day at the end of the shift, we’re going to come to your room and collect your money. You do not want to go to the police under any circumstances, because just remember you’re here with the fake documents, you are a criminal, you broke the law. You actually going to end up in jail if you’re even thinking of leaving this motel.
I started to work in a club and for the first few days I didn’t really went up to people, I didn’t really make money. And then on the third, fourth, fifth day, they were like, “Okay, this is not really happening. I don’t think you understand that you’re on the clock here. You’re losing money here for us. So far, every day you were supposed to come up with at least with $300. You haven’t made any so now you owe us that $300 every day times five. They add that to my debt. I owed something like $5000 dollars, but it’s a number that I don’t even recognize because I never have seen that much money in my life. It’s like, “Oh, my God, how am I ever going to make that money back.” It did not get any easier.
Caption: On a break from stripping, Timea was forced to work in a massage parlour. Her first job was sex with three young men.
Timea Nagy: I felt like a piece of meat. I was in pain physically and I was just extremely exhausted and I didn’t believe that I just did that. I looked in the mirror after taking a shower and I was looking for me, you know? And it wasn’t me, it was somebody else.
I decided that I needed to get out when towards the end I was extremely exhausted and I started to realize that most of the brain washing is literally brain washing about who’s watching me and who is not and what’s possible and what’s not. There’s all kinds of things that happens in the past three months and girls gotten beaten up in front of me. It just started to become really a lot.
Caption: Timea escaped with the help of employees at one of the strip clubs. She hopes that by sharing her story other victims will seek help.
Timea Nagy: I think the moment you stop hiding your past and you become true to yourself, and you realized that this happened to you and just by hiding it, it’s never going to go away. I think that’s when life is actually going to start to get easier. You can hide for ten, 20, 30 years, but this is always going to be with you, so either get counselling, talk to people and just work your way though. Just don’t hide it.
Caption: ON THE HOME FRONT
Benjamin Perrin: We’ve found that there are many more individuals who are being abused in our country that we’d expected both foreign victims and very surprisingly and alarmingly Canadian victims, women and girls themselves.
Caption: There is currently no minimum sentence for human trafficking in Canada. In September 2009 people gathered in Montreal to rally against human trafficking in Canada.
[People signing petition at a table. Media interviewing individuals at an event. People holding placards and marching at demonstration.]
MP Joy Smith (addressing crowd at demonstration): I can tell you there is nothing as zealous as a mother of a cop. And I can tell you that my son, who was in the ICE unit, this young cop, the Integrated Child Exploitation Unit, his hair turned grey in less than two years because of all the children he had worked with who had been trafficked. And I want to say to you that my first victim that I worked with was 14 years old. Fourteen years old. I had a daughter who was 14 years old at the same time. Fourteen years old. I held this little child’s hand and she reminded me how small she was. Her hand fit into mine and the fear in her eyes was unbelievable. And I vowed that I would do everything I could to stop this horrific crime here in Canada. And that was the beginning.
MP Joy Smith (interview): I tried when I was first elected in 2004 to get it on the Status of Women. But I was laughed at. Actually, it was very humiliating. Everybody told me there was no human trafficking in Canada. I knew there was. I knew there was because I’d worked with victims. I’d worked with police. Nobody was laughing when we called witnesses from all over Canada. They didn’t laugh when we had trafficking victims come to Committee.
Woman: So, I think it’s time we have elected a government, and that government is listening to what we’re saying, and we’re saying that it is enough. We want those—you know, we’re not talking about shoplifting. We’re not talking about financial crime. We’re talking about trafficking of children. So, if we are not prepared to accept minimum sentence of five years for other crimes, I say at least for that crime which is the worst crime that could exist, I think we are not only prepared to accept, we are demanding it.
MP Joy Smith: There’s a lot of issues I deal with. But my heart and my brain and my mind and my passion is with stopping the trafficking of children across our country.
Caption: ABORIGINAL TRAFFICKING
Anupriya Sethi (Researcher): It’s kind of shocking because you see Canada as a developed country where you assume at least child abuse and exploitation is the last thing that would exist. And I didn’t just want to sit in a cubical and do some research and say, “This is what it is.” I really wanted to go out and talk to the people and ask them their stories.
Caption: Aboriginal girls are vulnerable to poverty, racism, substance abuse, violence, isolation, a need to feel a sense of belonging, a history of colonization
Ben Perrin: And when I was in Winnipeg, a radio announcer did a talk show about this. He said to me, “These are just hookers, right?" These are just hookers....
Caption: 75% of Aboriginal girls under 18 have experienced sexual abuse. Children as young as nine are sexually exploited in Saskatoon. The average of being forced into prostitution is 11 or 12.
Anupriya Sethi: There are these triangles in which girls are being moved: Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and then back to Saskatoon. Or, if you’re in Edmonton, it will take you to Vancouver. You’re probably sleeping in a truck in Edmonton and you find yourself waking up in Vancouver. Why that happens, it underlying that traffickers want to make sure that girls don’t form attachments and bonds in the city where they are. They don’t get to know people as much. But underlying is to make sure that there is power and control.
Caption: 500 Aboriginal girls have gone missing in the last two decades. Some have been found dead on the side of the highway, and some are believed to have been trafficked.
Grand Chief Ron Evans (Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs): I got to hear firsthand how the people are involved. And so it really moved me. I sat there. I was in tears listening to the stories. And I could not leave there as a leader occupying this role of Grand Chief. With this information, how can I leave there and not do anything about it.
Ben Perrin: You know Grand Chief Ron Evans and other people in Manitoba are trying to raise attention to this issue. It was only through days and days of national and local media attention that the Government of Manitoba finally in the summer for 2009 announced a task force to investigate missing and murdered Aboriginal girls.
Caption: In Vancouver, 60% of sexually exploited youth are Aboriginal.
Sue Todd (runs “The Great Room”): One of the things that we know particularly being here in the Downtown Eastside is the prevalence of domestic trafficking, and particularly of First Nations women. Over half of the women who are living in the Downtown Eastside are First Nations. When you start to understand their stories, you realize that many of them from a very early age have been victim to some dynamic of trafficking and exploitation.
Caption: Aboriginal girls are lured at airports, bars, schools, and the internet. Some disappear after hitch hiking from reserves. Traffickers often pose as boyfriends.
Anupriya Sethi: It’s very hard when your trafficker is your boyfriend or that you’re desperately holding on, the last thing you are holding onto is some sense of belonging the person gives you, no matter how much abuse or exploitation comes with it.
Caption: Sue tells the story of a girl born on a reserve in northern B.C.
Sue Todd: There were a lot of issues in her family: issues of addiction, mental health issues, family breakdown. By the time she was six years old, she was already drinking.
Caption: An older brother of a friend took her under his wing, providing for her needs and building a relationship with her.
Sue Todd: When she was about 11 years old, she talks about the day that he came to her and said, “I’ve spent a lot of time with you, I’ve bought you a lot of things, I’ve spent a lot of money on you, you need to pay me back.”
Caption: He began taking her to parties and selling her for sex to his friends.
Sue Todd: And she remembers at the age of 11, going to the first party where she was gang raped by five or six of his friends. And that began a number of years of her being in debt to him.
Caption: By the time she was 12 years old she was addicted to hard drugs and found herself on the streets of Vancouver being sexually exploited. With the help of the Great Room, she is now on a journey towards healing.
Caption: SEX TOURISM: Travelling to a foreign country with the purpose of paying for sex
Victor Malarek: So many men travel overseas because they know they can get away with things they can never get away with here. And then they boast online on their little sex internet sites. “Hey, if I hadn’t helped that woman by feeding her family and giving her that 50 bucks or 100 bucks, she would have starved or her kids would have starved.” Really? So, charity, for you, begins below the beltline.
Brian McConaghy (Former RCMP, Founder of Ratanak Foundation): Absolutely, Canadians participate in this. Canadians go oversees to assault children. We are not exempt from this in any way. Just like other western countries, we have guys with the money who go and do this. The reason why we do have this kind of exploitation is based on financial disparity between two geographic locations where you have a country that is immature in its legal system, corrupt in its legal system and the people are poor and you mix that with rich westerners, who have money. Now, when they travel to another country because they have money, da facto they have power.
But the brothels are disgusting. They are what I can refer to as a DNA rich environment. You can put that together as to what that means. They’re filthy.
These girls don’t make choices to be in—this is not a career choice. We hear that sometimes that prostitution is a career choice. This stuff is not a career choice. This is always a decision made out of absolute desperation if they’ve chosen at all. Certainly in the trafficking/child exploitation realm, there is no choice. There is absolutely no choice. You are a slave and you perform. And you smile while you’re performing because you’ve been trained to smile while you’re performing. And you’re electrocuted or you’re beaten until such times as you learn to smile through—your pain threshold is adjusted so that you can smile at that kind of abuse. So, you smile for customers. And it doesn’t matter if she’s 18 year old or 15 year old or 12 year old, there’s no choice there. These are victims.
Sgt. Ron Bieg (Vancouver Police Department): Go to Burma. Go to India. Go to any of these places and you will see Canadians in towns like Svay Pak, where the only reason the towns exist is furtherance of the sex tourism industry.
Caption: Sgt. Ron Bieg led an investigation to convict Canadian sex tourist, Donald Bakker.
Sgt. Ron Bieg: What we also recovered were a whole bunch of video tapes where Mr. Bakker was engaged in sexual activity with Asian children—very young Asian children that appeared to be between five and nine years of age.
Brian McConaghy: And so, this really is the—one of the most purest forms of sick predatorial behaviour we see in humans. A lion never chooses to attack the strongest wildebeest at the front of the herd. They’re predators. They will attack the weakest, the orphaned animals, the ones that are hurt, the ones that are slow. Sex tourism in my opinion is exactly that predatorial behaviour.
Sgt. Ron Bieg: So, he’d been to Vietnam. He’d been to Cambodia several times. He’d been to Thailand. He’d been to Burma, Laos. He’d been to the Philippines. All of these countries have to varying degrees sex tourism problems or sex tourism issues, child sex tourism industries for lack of a better word.
Caption: Beig’s team matched the background in Bakker’s video with footage of a brothel raid carried out by International Justice Mission in Cambodia. The location of Bakker’s crime was determined. It was evidence they needed to convict Bakker under Canada’s sex tourism law.
Sgt. Ron Bieg: There had never been any prosecutions. There is a section in the Canadian Criminal Code for the prosecution of Canadians oversees engaged in specific offences involving children. Essentially those are sexual offences. So, we’re talking invitation to sexual touching, soliciting the sexual services of a child, sexual intercourse, obviously, sexual interference. But that section had never been prosecuted before in Canada, let alone a successful prosecution.
Caption: Bakker was sentenced to 7 years in prison, making it the first successful prosecution under Canada’s sex tourism law. A similar case involving a U.S. Marine Corps major resulted in a 210 year sentence. Canada has a long way to go.
Brian McConaghy: We just recently closed the embassy in Cambodia while the American government have put in full time FBI, Homeland Security, and ICE units specifically to investigate their citizens. And they’re getting results. They’re investigating. They’re finding their citizens who are assaulting hundreds of children. They are arresting them. They are extraditing them and then, legally, they’re throwing the book at them.
Caption: Six of the seven girls Bakker assaulted are now in Brian’s safe house.
Brian McConaghy: It’s an amazing experience to sit with lives that I first saw as children that were just being destroyed and see them with a lot of TLC for years being rebuilt to the point where they’re becoming strong, young women with a future. They’re doing really well in school and they’re like kids you’d see anywhere in Canada. You wouldn’t believe the history they’ve had.
Caption: He is still looking for one of them.
Brian McConaghy: Last week I got within a block of where she was. I came very close a matter of days ago but was unable to find her. To be honest with you, if I found her, I’m not sure what I’d do. I don’t have skills to actually help her, but I’m driven to find her with the hopes that we can get her into a rehabilitation program one day. But it’s very difficult. She’s being doing this for years now.
Caption: Brian’s goal is to traffic proof every village in Cambodia by getting there before traffickers do and raising awareness among the local people.
Caption: Economics 101: Supply and Demand
Michelle Miller (Executive Director of Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity): I started noticing in my experiences that we always talked about the women and everybody is fairly aware of the women, but that there was a hidden face in this crime and that is the face of the buyer.
Victor Malarek: It’s not a lonely creep in an apartment. It’s every guy. It’s fathers and brothers and uncles and grandfathers—your next door neighbour. It’s judges and lawyers and plumbers and professors. It’s everyone from all walks of life.
Caption: Money is the ultimate conscience pacifier.
Victor Malarek: The supply side is only there because you have a demand side. And there’s three key letters in demand, M-A-N. If you did not have a demand, you would not have a supply. You can build the best mouse trap factory on the planet. If you don’t have mice, what use is a mousetrap and the best mouse trap factory in the world.
Benjamin Perrin: You would never know that someone was a victim of human trafficking. Most of them will not be able to tell a difference between someone who is supposedly there voluntarily like this fictitious woman in Pretty Woman or they’re actually a sex slave. They would not be able to tell. And so, for that reason, frequently places like strip clubs and massage parlours, if guys are doing that thinking it’s fun, you got to stop doing that because it is contributing to the problem.
Caption: Several Canadian strip clubs have been found guilty of using trafficked women for stripping and forced sex acts.
Michelle Miller: Even something like pornography…. You think that you’re watching pornography and it’s just you and your computer and no one else is involved. But you’re part of that trafficking chain when you’re watching pornography or you’re engaging in your pornography addiction.
Victor Malarek: Pornography is the trigger that sends men out into the night following the direction of their erections. That’s what it is. Many trafficked women are used in pornography. So, in fact, when you’re looking at pornography, you are one of the people responsible for trafficking.
Caption: The average age of boys introduced to pornography is 10 years old.
Victor Malarek: There are all these buffoons out there who talk about creative rights. You know, we can’t impugn the creative rights. This is a freedom of speech issue. Really? This is freedom of speech? This is artistic endeavour? It’s smut! It’s garbage!
Caption: LEGALIZATION. Argument #1: Canada should follow the example of the Netherlands, Germany, and Australia, where prostitution is legalized and is a legitimate part of the national economy.
Benjamin Perrin: What our research has found from countries as diverse as the Netherlands, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand is that countries have taken different approaches to this and what fails to deal with the problem is trying to regulate it away and legalize it. In countries like Holland that is renowned for the Red Light District is that they’ve had to shut down whole sections of the Red Light District over the last five years because it’s been infiltrated by organized crime, because the only people you will find in those Dutch brothels are foreign women from North Africa and Eastern Europe. They’re not Dutch women who sit down with their guidance counsellor who says you can be a doctor, a lawyer, a secretary, or a prostitute. Which would you like to be? There’s no Dutch women in those brothels. So, then, how does this look anything like a choice? Well, it isn’t.
Victor Malarek: So, you have upwards of 85,000 prostituted women in the Netherlands of which more than 87 percent are from foreign lands. In Germany, upwards of 200 to 400 thousand prostituted women of which 85 percent are not from Germany.
Michelle Miller: The mayor has actually called the experiment with legalized prostitution an abysmal failure.
Caption: “In each one of these nations, illegal brothels sprouted like mushrooms after the summer rain and quickly outnumbered legal establishments by a ratio of three and four to one.” -- Victor Malarek, The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It
Benjamin Perrin: Legalizing prostitution, hoping to regulate it away simply does not work. It only allows the government to turn a blind eye and collect revenues.
Caption: Argument #2: Legalization of prostitution empowers women and fosters freedom of choice
Michelle Miller: The vast majority of women who are being prostituted did not choose that. So, when people say they think women choose to prostitute, that’s um, it’s a lie.
Victor Malarek: Upwards of 96 percent of women who are involved in prostitution world wide desperately want out but have no exit strategy.
Michelle Miller: So if there is a woman out there who, I’d imagine she’s middle class and she’s making some pretty good money and maybe she can argue to me, “Hey, I’m making this choice. This is something that I want to do.” I have no problem looking her in the eye and saying, “I would like you to stop. I understand that you have a choice, and I’m asking you not to do it because the majority of women don’t have a choice.”
Caption: Argument #3: Legalization ensures better health for women.
Victor Malarek: A scary thing that they use and everybody jumps on that bandwagon is health. The health—we don’t want to get HIV and AIDS. No, no, you don’t want the johns to get HIV and AIDS. Let’s get clear here. It’s about the customers, not about the women’s health safety. It has nothing to do with that.
Caption: Government approved brothels would require girls to get health checks.
Victor Malarek: They have to get the health checks. They have to carry a card that says, “I am a prostitute and I am health—HIV free or sexually transmitted diseases free this month.”
Benjamin Perrin: So, the brothels only have women who are free of STDs. The men who come in to pay for sex with those women, often unprotected sex, well they’re not checked for health.
Victor Malarek: Why not give men, the johns, a john card that says, “I’ve been to a doctor this month and here’s my john card. I use prostituted women.”
Benjamin Perrin: They system is designed to provide men with a legal, accessible, safe, for them, way to pay for sex with anonymous partners.
Caption: Argument #4: Legal brothels make prostitution safer for women. Requirements for a legal brothel: over 18 years old, free from STDs and other medical problems, free from mental health issues, free from drug use and addiction, working from free will.
Benjamin Perrin: If you take out the quantity of people who are under 18, under the control of traffickers or pimps, under the control of substances, have serious medical problems like various STDs, and you say under no system of regulation can they be allowed in, which is what every government program globally does, and you take them out and put them somewhere, first of all that’s not going to be very many people. And it is not, based on the studies that we’ve seen. Secondly, what happens to all of those people? Well, they continue to be exploited and now it’s all legal. So, they’re treated as fined. So, you’d be fined for not being found in a government brother, but simply in an illegal brothel. So, it really is a way of brushing the problem under the rug and unfortunately does nothing to help victims of exploitation in the sex trade.
Victor Malarek: There are serious, serious problems with legalization. The legalization forces often talk about harm reduction, they talk about the safety of these women and they use the example out west in Vancouver of Pickton, the pig farmer who killed all these women. Where was the concern for these women when they disappeared? So, they convict this guy and they have this disingenuous group saying, “If we had a brothel, these women would have been safe.” They know, they know in their thick skulls that’s an ultimate lie. The vast majority of these women come from Aboriginal reserves. They’ve been kicked off. They’ve been picked up by pimps and drug addicted by these pimps. They are cracked out of their minds. They have serious mental health issues, serious health issues—diseases and all kinds of problems that would never, ever, ever make them candidates for a brothel. These people know this but they want to open a brothel. It’s just floss and gloss.
Caption: Legalization makes victims more difficult to find. Legalization gives traffickers a competitive edge as their girls will do things that ‘legal’ women are not willing to do. Legalization ensures health regulations for a small minority come at the expense of an unfortunate majority. Legalization is a root cause of trafficking.
Sue Todd: You cannot separate issues of sexual exploitation and human trafficking from prostitution. If you legalize any form of prostitution, what you are saying is that as a culture, as a society, as a community, as a country, we are saying it is okay to buy and sell women and children period.
Caption: WHAT CANADA MUST DO. Adopt the Swedish Model. In 1999, Sweden decriminalized the selling of sex, ensuring that women would no longer face punishment. Exit programs for women were created. Simultaneously, it made buying sex a crime, ensuring the Johns are the ones criminally responsible for the exploitation of prostituted girls.
Benjamin Perrin: Sweden took that step almost ten years ago and they have seen not only the number of men who are purchasing or attempting to purchase sex dramatically, but also the women who are getting help is going up.
Caption: Allow more resources for anti-trafficking initiatives. Currently, there is no proactive attempt to find victims of trafficking in Canada. Victims are only found if they escape or manage to report what has happened to them. There is an urgent need for investigative teams that seek out victims domestically and convict Canadian sex tourists abroad.
Brian McConaghy: Combatting trafficking is expensive by definition. These are international files normally. They’re very expensive to investigate and so police do not have the resources. Many times police want to assist but they just can’t. There needs to be an understanding of much greater resources given to police to tackle this issue.
Caption: Implement a minimum sentence for traffickers & introduce restorative justice. Those who exploit women and children must be punished. Harsher sentences that take perpetrators off the street must be coupled with programs that bring healing to men.
Anupriya Sethi: You cannot address a problem as huge as sex trafficking by just focusing on girls. You have to look at the perpetrators which is Aboriginal men. How many healing centres do we have for Aboriginal men in Canada or have they even got that healing, that support that they need, not to say that issues are more severe than women. It’s not like that. It just goes hand in hand because there’s so much overlap.
Caption: Educate Canadians
Joy Smith: Our greatest weapon is education. We need to tell every school, every community centre, every church, every family about human trafficking and how they can guard their children.
Caption: What you can do. Help the younger generation.
Victor Malarek: We have to start talking to boys about triple x porn and telling them that this has nothing to do with love, that this has nothing to do with relationships, that this has nothing to do with human rights. It has everything to do with power and abuse.
Caption: Write a letter
Benjamin Perrin: Often leaders are young people who write an impassioned plea or make a phone call to their elected legislator, or police department, or their city mayor who say, “Hey, I’ve heard about this problem and I want to know what you’re doing to solve it. You represent me and you’re supposed to be part of the solution. What are you doing today?” And, that’s really how things get dealt with.
Caption: Examine your own life
Michelle Miller: The first thing that I tell people to do is to address the brokenness in your own life, because we’re all a piece of this puzzle. The other thing you can do is start talking about sexual addiction or talk about the demand for paid sex.
Sue Todd: We have to look as a culture at all of the ways that we contribute to sexual exploitation.
Michelle Miller: People are lonely and I think we need to address this loneliness. So, I often encourage people to live in community with other people where you can live out the fullness of your humanity and relationship with other people and you’re not having to engage in some kind of a false intimacy.
Caption: Walk on the front lines
Brian McConaghy: Despite feeling like we don’t have the talents and the skills and the resources that you just do it. You just accept responsibility for other human lives that cannot defend themselves and realize you’ve got a tremendous opportunity.
Caption: Ask the hard questions
Victor Malarek: Turn to your girlfriend beside you, turn to your sister on the other side, turn to your female classmates and ask yourself would you like them to be trafficked? Would you like them to be forced into prostitution? Would you ever envision them being so poor that they had to do this for a living? Is this what you would want for your sister, or for your mother, or for your niece, or your cousin? You have to ask yourself these questions. Would you want this for your daughter? If you say no, then it should never be someone else’s daughter.
Caption: Is there hope?
Sue Todd: I think that change is possible. I think that it can happen. I have hope for that.
Different speakers: Hope
Caption: Hope for the Sold
Produced by Jay & Michelle Brock
Special thanks to the Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Sharon Di Fruscia, Anupriya Sethi, Jim Dean, MP Joy Smith, Grand Chief Ron Evans, Cam Brooks, Benjamin Perrin, Michelle Miller, Sue Todd, Brian McConaghy, Ron Bieg, Benedikte Wilkinson, Nancy Brown, Victor Malarek, Naomi Baker, Joel Oosterman, Leanne Fraser, Toronto Sun, Dave McSporran from Bottled Media, Karen Makins, Iain Pittman, Friends and Family