Sex worker trafficking unlikely for 2010 Winter Olympics: report

Winter Olympics: report
By Damian Inwood, Canwest News Service
June 11, 2009 7:11 PMComments (2)

posted on behalf of Maxine Doogan
Human trafficking in the sex trade is unlikely to increase in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics, according to a new study released Thursday.

But Tamara O’Doherty, head of the group that commissioned the 150-page report, says sex trade workers still fear they’ll be hit by a police crackdown, due to misinformation which surrounds the topic.

“People tend to join up prostitution with trafficking as if they’re one thing and this inflates the numbers hugely,” said O’Doherty, chairwoman of the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group (SIWSAG).

“Vancouver sex trade workers are concerned that because everyone is worried about trafficking, there’s going to be a clampdown and people will be displaced, moved out of their areas and pushed around.” SIWSAG is made up of community organizations that work with sex-trade issues, sex-trade workers and the Vancouver Police Department.

The report says that a predicted influx of human trafficking victims into the sex trade failed to materialize at previous global sporting events such as Olympics and the 2006 World Cup of Soccer in Germany.

“At first blush, logic says that there would be people being trafficked to these events,” said Karen Mirsky of Pivot Legal Aid Society.

“The numbers being floated tend to be very inflated.”

She said that, in fact, there’s not much financial incentive for traffickers to spend a lot of money to bring people to short-duration events like the three-week Olympics.

“We might see sex workers from Alberta voluntarily coming to B.C., anticipating an increase in business,” she added.

VPD Insp. John de Haas said that, after looking at what happened at other mega events, it’s not reasonable to expect a huge increase in trafficking.

He said one of the unwanted results of a police crackdown is when sex workers are moved to unsafe areas.

De Haas said police need to build up stronger communications with sex-trade workers and create greater awareness around trafficking.

© copyright (c) CNS Olympics

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