No boost for sex trade as Olympics loom, says report

Posted on behalf of Maxine Doogan
Sex industry-commissioned study debunks link between increased human trafficking, major sporting events

By Daphne Bramham, Vancouver Sun columnist June 11, 2009

The Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group’s new report’s five recommendations are explicitly aimed at preventing human trafficking of women and men into prostitution and helping victims.

There is no proof that human trafficking increases in advance of major sporting events such as the Olympics, says a new 150-page report commissioned by a group of Vancouver sex-trade workers.
“The commonly held notion of a link between mega-sport events, trafficking in persons and sex work is an unsubstantiated assumption,” says the report done for the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group (SIWSAG) with the support of the Pivot Legal Society, Vancouver Police Department and the B.C. government (see the report here).

Both SIWSAG and Pivot are leading a campaign to legalize solicitation. Prostitution is not illegal under the Canadian Criminal Code. What is illegal is that act of negotiating payment for sex.

Although the report purports to debunk any notion that mega-sports events lead to more prostitutes and increased human trafficking, its five recommendations are explicitly aimed at preventing human trafficking of women and men into prostitution and helping victims.

It recommends a comprehensive public awareness campaign that would describe the dangers of trafficking, provide information on victims’ rights and services, inform the public of steps they can take to identify and assist victims and make it clear that violence against victims of trafficking and sex workers will not be tolerated.

It recommends that a full range of services be available for trafficking victims from housing to translation services.

And it recommends that someone be hired full-time from November until the end of February to act as a liaison between sex workers, police, local government officials and community groups in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside where many prostitutes work on the street.

“If anything, we found that the conflation of sex work and trafficking can result in policy and enforcement responses that negatively affect the lives of sex workers and victims of trafficking,” says Tamara O’Doherty of SIWSAG.

UBC law professor Ben Perrin called it “an odd report.”

“It makes very important recommendations — early detection, intervention and a major public awareness campaign,” he said, even though the report denies that trafficking is likely to increase.

Perrin called that conclusion “absurd.”

“We currently have a problem with sexual exploitation and trafficking that we need to deal with. So throw a million visitors into the mix and, of course, the problems will increase,” he said.

“And to recommend ignoring the risk of increased demand is dangerous public policy.”

Perrin’s own 2007 report — Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics — was one of the first to highlight the potential for increased prostitution and trafficking.

He based his conclusions on data from the Greek Ministry of Public Safety that indicated a 95-per-cent increase in the number of trafficking victims identified in 2004 when Athens hosted the Summer Olympics.

The SIWSAG report says that didn’t necessarily mean trafficking increased. Rather, it says, better detection meant more victims were found.

The SIWSAG report ignored a 2007 German government report to the European Union after the 2006 World Cup of soccer, which Perrin quoted in his research.

The German report said that it became clear in the run-up to the World Cup that higher numbers of prostitutes would be in and around the game sites and fan hotels. “An increase in the number of prostitutes was recorded at game venues and the surrounding areas. This was due, for instance, to the fact that prostitutes from outside regions travelled to the game venues.”

Perrin noted — as did the SIWSAG report — that the increase did not reach the widely reported 40,000.

Michelle Miller, of the anti-trafficking group Resist Exploitation and Embrace Dignity, said if SIWSAG is convinced that human trafficking won’t increase, why all the recommendations for detection, intervention and victims’ assistance?

“From REED’s perspective, when men travel in large numbers and away from their social networks, demand will increase for sexual services … Our concern is around the demand.”

She went on to say that trafficking already happens in Vancouver and it’s poor and ethnic women who are its most frequent victims.

As for the specific recommendations about informing victims of their rights and available services, Miller said they have no rights and there are no services.

She also dismissed the call for a public awareness campaign in advance of the Games. There already is one, she said. Her group launched it several weeks ago. It’s called Buying Sex is Not a Sport and is aimed at stopping demand for paid sexual services.

dbramham@vancouversun.com

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

11 Responses

  1. Sex industry commissioned? Interesting. I do wonder who provided the funding….
    The ‘debunked’ part of the headline also interesting. From my reading of the article it seems like the sex industy commissioned study has itself been debunked, both by critics and it’s own conclusions (despite the creative mental gymnastics to contort the evidence).
    This is where your movement is hugely problematic for me and many others: the denial of what is actually happening to women to promote your own agenda.

  2. By Michelle Miller’s own admission, “they have no rights and there are no services” and further, that it is “poor and ethnic women who are it’s most frequent victims.” So given even her own admission, just what is she advocating?
    Under the current laws both for sex work and immigration, the real victimization takes place when the police come through the door.
    When you criminalize clients you can bet that it will be mostly poor men, men of color and immigrant men who will be the primary targets of the police because they always are. Whether it is the “war on drugs” or the war on the sex industry, it always boils down to the war on the poor and a war on oppressed communties.
    Whether there is a boost in the industry or not during the games is not even relevent. What is relevent is that enforcing the notion that law enforcement is the solution for sex industry workers, when clearly it is part of the problem.
    What we want is for people to be able to come forward when they are victims of trafficking, exploitation, abuse or assault, no matter what their occupationand no matter what their immigration status. That is just not going to happen under criminalization. Decriminalize sex work, decriminalize immigrationthat and that would be a good start to defeat trafficking. And not just for the sex industry but for workers who are trafficked or exploited in domestic, factory and agriculture work as well.
    So hummmm, my agenda is stop putting poor people in jail and stop deporting my brothers and sisters.

  3. Hmmmmm, were you ever a trafficking victim? What are your qualifications on the issue? Do you have the courage to stand behind a real name rather than hmmmm,, in making your statements?

    I was a trafficking victim. I’m not denying anything. I know it happens because it happened to me. But this whole anti trafficking radical feminist movement thing about ending trafficking through criminalization of consenting sex work, conflating consenting sex work with trafficking is garbage that further victimizes trafficking victims and consenting sex workers.

    I don’t need any mental gymnastics to contrast the anti trafficking radical feminist movement. My experience is first person. Not staking out across the street looking for “indicators” of trafficking.

    Hmmm, if you are so sure about your viewpoint, perhaps you would willing to come from behind the paper bag over your head and debate your views publicly? Debate them with someone who actually was a trafficking victim. Your movement is fronting off a collaboration of feminists and right wing conservatives in the Bush Administration and an alleged “war on trafficking”. It doesn’t take a lot of courage to hide behind screen names like hmmmm, or hide in debates that are fully moderated to protect you.

  4. More to hmmmm,

    Virtually every time radical feminist anti trafficking activists come here, always under pseudonyms,,,,,,, You come in arguing that any point different than your own is some advocacy not for human rights but instead for some hidden agenda to advance evil. You argue that you are fighting for the rights of women in prostitution, yet you don’t argue the merits of your point. You come in throw shit at the very people that you are proposing you represent the rights of.

    You think someone that is currently being trafficked gives a shit about your fight against people and your mythical view of their agenda. You don’t have a clue what our agenda even is. Your arguments are cliche shit that is thrown every time. You figure, hmmm, that when I was a trafficking victim I was helped by your predecessor’s feminism or their feminist wars against women with different views? Because none of it mattered at all to me. None. I was trying to live through the day as a trafficking victim.

    You aren’t arguing against any agenda HMMMM. You aren’t even a contrast to our point. You are throwing shit, behind the veil of a screen name no less. Your cowardice for not even using a traceable screen name, much less a real name, and your conspiracy laden cliches have the integrity of Fox News and their “Fair and Balanced” reporting on the Iraq war.

    Next time come in with something substantive and maybe even not hiding under a paper bag. Your war on trafficking and that of your allies does far more harm worldwide to trafficking victims and to everyone else in prostitution than it does good.

    Hmmm, does your movement have anyone that can speak that isn’t an ill informed pretentious coward hiding behind fully moderated safe forums, screen names and completely ill informed responses tilting against enemies that are neither who or what you allege.

  5. Lets see the federal government under the religious nazis funded which feminist nazis to do research on what?

  6. http://www.straight.com/article-232537/joyce-arthur-facts-and-fictions-about-sex-trafficking-and-vancouvers-2010-olympics

    June 15, 2009, Georgia Straight
    Joyce Arthur: Facts and fictions about sex trafficking and Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics

    By Joyce Arthur

    With the 2010 Winter Olympic Games only seven months away, there is growing speculation that trafficking in women will increase significantly in Vancouver. A major new report lays these fears to rest by debunking the alleged link between a boom in sex trafficking and large sporting events.

  7. http://www.vancouversun.com/Health/Victoria+cuts+funds+service+that+protects+trade+workers/1660143/story.html

    VANCOUVER — An advocate for Vancouver sex-trade workers says they will soon be at greater risk because the B.C. government has cut off funding for a van that cruises the streets at night, watching out for the women.

    Losing the van means a greater risk of violence and less access to harm-reduction supplies, first aid, and bad-date reports in the overnight hours when sex workers are most active, said Kate Gibson, executive director of the WISH Drop-in Centre.

    The van, which supplies the only overnight services to sex workers, is stocked with condoms, first-aid supplies, a needle exchange, coffee, fruit juice, water, referrals to support services, and posters showing missing women and dangerous johns.

    It stops along the most popular strolls or at specific locations requested by sex workers. Each night, 40 to 50 women show up for supplies, support or companionship over a cup of coffee. The van’s last run will be on June 12.

    The province, citing financial pressure, has not renewed the $250,000 needed to keep the van running for another year.

    The solicitor-general’s ministry said the project’s funding request is under review.

    “The provincial government, like other jurisdictions around the world, is facing challenging and unprecedented economic times, requiring some difficult decisions,” the ministry said in a statement Wednesday to The Vancouver Sun.

    Laurel Irons, who has staffed the van since 2004, said sex workers “are already very upset, concerned and feel just really left out in the cold, wondering why such an important service to them is being taken away.”

    Irons said she has intervened at times when sex workers were stalked, pepper-sprayed and assaulted.

    “I don’t know what a lot of women are going to do without having somewhere to turn in those desperate moments,” she said.

    Kate Shannon, a research scientist at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, said services that keep sex work above-ground are essential for ensuring women’s health.

    “We need to scale up mobile services to sex workers. The closure of the mobile access-point van is a huge step backwards,” Shannon said.

    The City of Vancouver is considering how it can help restore funding, Coun. Kerry Jang said.

  8. My, these people are so rude! Throwing vicious and hateful words around about people. Women calling other women ‘feminist nazis’, when there is basically no such thing. Feminists are the movement that want to see the eradication of women’s oppression. These people are just horrible.

  9. I don’t know what you’re referring to, Charlie, but Maxine Doogan is using the term “feminist nazi” to describe a type of pseudo-feminist who makes a living off of oppressing sex workers.

    One of the methods that these pseudo-feminists use is to conduct erroneous and distorted so-called “research”, which does immense damage to the safety and rights of those who work as strippers, prostitutes, porn performers, and other types of sex workers.

  10. You know Charlie, I have repeatedly asked many feminists to stop throwing hateful and vicious words at sex workers and sex worker rights activists. The answer from them, was that because I was no longer a feminist, I was not qualified to tell them anything about hate speech. In other words, it’s ok, if feminists throw the hate speech around, but a horrific crime if something hateful is thrown at them.

    Perhaps, Charlie, you will join me in calling for everyone to back off on throwing hateful words around, and call for a more respectful dialogue on all sides?

  11. I agree with Jill. If we don’t want anti’s using hateful language, we shouldn’t be using it ourselves. Hatred is a vicious circle where the more people use hateful language on either side, the more the hate spreads. I believe the term “femi-nazi” was coined by Rush Limbaugh, and I’m definately not interested in using his language.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: