Making it illegal to buy sex would supposedly help combat human trafficking for the sex trade in Canada, Conservative MP Joy Smith will say as she unveils dozens of repressive recommendations in the name of the fight against trafficking.
recommendations are part of a national action plan Smith has worked on for the last three years.
Human trafficking is the buying and selling of people, most often for sex or forced labour. Since human trafficking became a separate offence in the
Criminal Code four years ago, just five people have been convicted of it in Canada. There are another 32 cases before the courts now.
The U.S. State Department estimates 800 people are trafficked into Canada each year.
Smith's plan calls
for Canada to study ways to adopt a decade-old Swedish policy that considers prostitution violence against the sex trade worker and makes it illegal to buy or attempt to buy sex either on the street or in a business such as a brothel or massage parlour.
The policy cut demand for the sex trade and resulted in a significant drop in human trafficking there compared to its European neighbours. Some estimated the amount of prostitution in Sweden plummeted 90%.
She also calls for a wider public
relations campaign, training judges, lawyers and cops about Canada's relatively new human trafficking laws so they can be used better and establishing safe houses for victims in each province.
One of Smith's recommendations is to have Canada
Border Services Agency officials keep track of women arriving in Canada alone for six months after they arrive to ensure they are safe.
Smith said her plan has been given to the prime minister and several relevant cabinet ministers and she hopes
it will be presented to Parliament in full.
She noted one of the keys is to improve co-ordination between different levels of government and law enforcement and the non-governmental agencies which aid victims. A national human trafficking
co-ordinator, what Smith calls a national rapporteur, would be a liaison, make policy recommendations and report annually to Parliament so Canada can track its progress.
Smith's proposal has been met with skepticism by Canadian opposition parties.
Typical Conservative, says Liberal justice critic Marlene Jennings. Simplistic, not based on evidence, not based on fact. Human trafficking and prostitution are two different things, and that's what the Conservatives like to mix up,
Jennings says. They like to mix it up together into the same bowl so that they can confuse people and they can make outrageous statements.
It makes me very discouraged — it really does, says NDP MP Libby Davies, who was part of a
parliamentary committee looking into sex workers before the Conservatives came to power. They deliberately choose to avoid what is required, which is a sensitive and intelligent debate about the sex work laws in this country.
out that there is plenty of evidence to show that the Swedish model doesn't work, because it drives sex work underground, which places sex workers into vulnerable, high-risk situations where they can't come forward to report threats.
University of Ottawa criminologist Christine Bruckert agrees and adds that pushing the industry underground makes sex workers more likely to align with people who they feel can support them, such as pimps.
The trafficking thing is a smokescreen, Bruckert says. There's no conceptual link between the Swedish model and reducing trafficking, and there's absolutely no evidence coming out of Sweden that it has actually reduced pimping or trafficking.
NDP justice critic Joe Comartin also feels that the link between human trafficking and sex work is one that needs to be carefully managed. The problem we have of always equating human trafficking with the sexual abuse area is that, in fact,
we have a good deal of human trafficking in the manufacturing sector, in agriculture, hospitality, Comartin says. All of those industries have a history of abuse going on of the workers in those areas.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May
agrees. [Sex workers] need to know that they can safely go to law enforcement from the threats of physical harm. We need to go in the direction of protecting their rights, ensuring that they have access to appropriate medical care, access to police
and other security and law enforcement authorities. This is a disastrous and dangerous idea, and it goes in the wrong direction altogether.
May adds that the Green Party as a whole is debating the policy on sex workers, given that they are
unsure about legalization, but have not found a model they are comfortable following.
There have been few victim's of the law punishing unknowing customers of prostitutes who have been coerced, the Guardian has learned.
Sources at the Metropolitan police and the Crown Prosecution Service said only three men have been cautioned for
going with prostitutes who were coerced or threatened into working, since it became a criminal offence in April 2009.
Two men using a brothel in east London were picked up on the day the legislation was introduced and only one other has been
cautioned since. The figure emerged as the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) claimed that at least 2,600 prostitutes working in brothels in England and Wales had been trafficked from abroad. Many lived in debt bondage and were strictly
controlled through threats of violence to family members.
The figures published by Acpo, relating only to off-street prostitution, suggest that almost one in 10 of an estimated 30,000 prostitutes are trafficked. Half of them come from China with
most of the rest from Thailand, other parts of south-east Asia, and eastern Europe. A further 9,200 migrant prostitutes were found to be vulnerable to further trafficking. That group is typically in debt, live outside mainstream society and many have
been recruited through abuse of their vulnerability, Acpo said.
Detectives said the maximum £1,000 fine for paying for the sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force means there is little incentive to dedicate resources to it and
said it is difficult to prove that prostitutes are being coerced and exploited.
The Acpo figures on trafficked prostitutes are based police interviews with foreign sex workers after raiding brothels. [Just at the time
when some will be tempted to claim that they forced into it]
The statistics are considerably lower than previous estimates. A Home Office report in 2003, based on an extrapolation of trafficking in London, estimated that there were 3,812
trafficked prostitutes in England and Wales.
It was described by the authors of the study as very approximate but three years later the then home office minister, Vernon Coaker, told a parliamentary committee on human rights: There are
an estimated 4,000 women victims.
In a debate in the Commons in November 2007, Denis MacShane, said that according to home office estimates, 25,000 sex slaves worked in British massage parlours and brothels.
The Acpo research,
Project Acumen – Setting the Record, claims almost 5,000 women from abroad work as sex workers in London in more than 2,000 premises. The majority, 55% of all prostitutes including British prostitutes, came from eastern Europe, while 22.5% came from
The count prompted a fresh row over the measurement of trafficking and prostitution in the UK. Anti-slavery International said the figures represents an underestimation of the problem of trafficking while the English Collective of
Prostitutes said the statistics were an over-estimation and claimed that law enforcement agencies use fear of trafficking as a premise for raiding brothels and prosecuting sex workers for lesser offences.
In the last six years, there have been 128
convictions for sex trafficking, seven for labour trafficking and three for conspiracy to traffic for sex, according to the Home Office figures.
The Calcutta high court is set to hear an interesting petition on the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act (ITPA), 1956.
The petition has been filed by Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee (DMSC), an umbrella association of Kolkata-based sex workers.
The association wants changes since it believes this law violates the fundamental rights of citizens. It also wants clients of sex workers to be exempted from criminal prosecution.
Section 4 is full of contradictions, noted criminal and human
rights lawyer K Gupta said. Under this section, those dependent (parents, husband, adult children) on the income of sex workers can be prosecuted if they are aware that the money has been earned through prostitution, Gupta said. However, the
beneficiary cannot be prosecuted if h/she is unaware of the source of income. But it is quite difficult to establish this distinction and in most cases law-enforcement agencies take advantage of this.
Besides, this section is
self-discriminatory, or contrary to other laws that make it mandatory for a son or daughter to look after their dependent parents. In a way, this section discourages a sex worker from spending her money to look after her ailing parents or educating
her adult son or daughter. Under section 4, people benefiting from the income of sex worker can be sentenced to a maximum of two years in prison, Gupta said.
Similarly, another self-contradictory clause in ITPA is the one that makes it a
criminal offence to hire the services of a sex worker. Prostitution has not been defined as a criminal offence in our law. If the service is not illegal, then how can clients be criminals? We hope this historical petition will try to seek answers to
all such questions, the lawyer said.
Scantily clad pop stars, TV shows such as Secret Diary Of A Call Girl, and the popularity of glamour models are legitimising prostitution in the eyes of men, and endangering women, a campaigner has claimed.
Ann Hamilton, head of the
Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA), believes reducing the demand among Scottish men to purchase sex is the best way of tackling the root cause of trafficking and prostitution.
But she believes that popular culture portraying it as sexy,
empowering and enjoyable to women, allow men to believe that prostitution is harmless, when that is far from the truth.
Hamilton claimed: People tend to think that prostitution is dead sexy, very liberating and that there is
nothing harmful about it. It's portrayed as very attractive women having lots of sex and enjoying it, when in actual fact that's about 0.005 per cent of women.
Shows like Secret Diary Of A Call Girl have been
very damaging in the public's awareness. Even music stars like to look like a stereotypical call girl because they think there's something sexy and empowering about it. The women's outfits might be very sexy but the reality of prostitution is not.
We now have girls saying they want to be glamour models and lap dancers and it's all part of that culture making it more acceptable.
Göran Lindberg, chief of police of Uppsala was a staunch enemy of sexism in the police force. He argued with colleagues, made speeches and built up a reputation as a tireless proponent of women's rights.
From early in his career, Lindberg was seen
by the authorities as a policing role model and was duly made the national spokesperson on sex equality in the police force. Pretty soon he established a reputation as Sweden's leading progressive policeman. So renowned was Lindberg for his political
correctness and sensitivity towards women's issues that he was nicknamed Captain Skirt . In spite of the jokes, he was rapidly promoted, becoming the dean of the police training college and eventually the police chief of Uppsala.
Lindberg was jailed for six and a half years on charges of rape, pimping and procuring. He accepted that he bought sex, which is illegal in Sweden, but had denied the other charges. After Lindberg's arrest, a woman, calling herself Linda, was quoted in
Swedish newspapers. She claimed to have been sexually abused by several men. The police chief called me 'Daddy's girl', she said. I was told that he was important and that he would frame me if I told anyone. Again, she sounds as if she
emerged, fully formed, from the pages of Mankell's fiction.
Lindberg was found guilty of aggravated rape, rape, assault, 28 counts of purchasing sex, and one of being an accessory to procurement. As well as jailing him, the Södertörn District
Court ordered Lindberg to pay 300,000 kronor (about £26,000) in compensation to three victims.
The news of Lindberg's secret life rocked Sweden. While a certain scepticism about the police is common enough in intellectual circles, the notion that
the foremost advocate of women's rights in the police was in reality a serial user, and abuser, of prostitutes was enough to stun even the most grizzled cynic.
Lindberg's colleagues, and particularly his female supporters, were dumbfounded.
Beatrice Ask, the justice minister, spoke of the devastating and distressing effect of the news. While Cecilia Malmström, who is Sweden's EU commissioner and was a member of Uppsala police board when Lindberg was police chief, said: I have no
words. I am extremely shocked. This is a man who has dedicated his career to fight for women's rights. I feel physically sick when I think about this.
The number of people reported to the police for buying sex has risen five-fold in Sweden in the past year, according to new figures.
During the first half of 2009 a total of 148 people were reported for paying prostitutes for sex. The number for
the same period this year was 770.
A large part of the rise - 430 cases - was due to the discovery of a major prostitution ring in Jämtland county, north-western Sweden. But even when these cases are discounted, the figures had more than
But police said the dramatic increase was probably not due to a sudden rise in the number of men visiting prostitutes. Rather, they credit increased measures to repress prostitution. An extra 40 million kronor has been allocated this year
to pay for training and strengthening of the police's operations against the sex trade.
The national pattern was reflected in Sweden's major cities. In Skåne, which includes Malmö, some 20 cases of paying for sex were reported during
the whole of 2009. So far this year, 50 cases have been reported. There, the extra money has been used to increase internet monitoring of the sex trade, which has resulted both in more reports of people paying for sex and in a fall in street
A 'shock horror' sex scandal is rocking the Swedish government in the run-up to general elections, with the Aftonbladet newspaper reporting - three days after his resignation - that labour minister Sven Otto Littorin once hired a prostitute.
Paying for sex has been a crime in Sweden since 1999. Proven interactions with prostitutes are punishable with fines and, in some cases, imprisonment.
The affair is all the more explosive because Littorin, did not mention the paper's allegations while announcing his resignation on Wednesday, even though he reportedly had been informed of the charges shortly before.
A few hours earlier,
Aftonbladet had confronted Littorin with information and evidence provided by a 30-year-old prostitute that the minister had paid for her services four years ago.
Littorin is a member of Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt's conservative party and
joined Reinfeldt's cabinet as minister for employment in October 2006. The premier said that Littorin denied the paper's allegations before his resignation. Reinfeldt said he doesn't know how much the affair may harm him in the upcoming campaign.
New plans to criminalise prostitution will be launched in the autumn, following a a one sided consultation with selected groups on how to tackle the oldest profession in the world .
Scottish Labour MSP Trish Godman has asked clerks to draw
up a list of agencies that should be consulted ahead of a bill being drafted.
MSPs rejected attempts to include legislation on prostitution in the Criminal Justice and Licensing Bill, which was passed last week. However, Godman believes this was
due to the way the amendment was written and the lack of consultation. She believes there is cross-party sympathy for trying to provide better protection for women who are trafficked, exploited and vulnerable to violence from pimps and punters.
She hopes to pass legislation before the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, which anti-prostitution agencies have warned could act as a magnet for traffickers and prostitutes from across the UK and overseas.
[Perhaps they are expecting the 40,000 sex workers who so noticeably didn't bother go to South Africa for the World Cup].
Godman said: There will be a full consultation, put together over the summer, but not
put out until the beginning of September or the end of August.
She believes she can gain the support of the Scottish Government after discussing her plans with justice secretary Kenny MacAskill. There is also the possibility that the bill will
be introduced after next year's election, when the make up of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament will be different.
The Scottish Government does not believe that legislation and enforcement alone can make the industry safer, but will consider it in
tandem with other measures, such as support through groups such as the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) in Glasgow and Scotpep in Edinburgh.
A Swedish law punishing the purchase -not the sale -of sex, has has reduced street prostitution in half, but the Scandinavian country is still facing sex sold over the Internet, a Swedish report said.
The evaluation shows that the ban on the
purchase of sexual services has had the intended effect and is an important instrument in preventing and combating prostitution and human trafficking for sexual purposes, the report said.
The report, handed to Justice Minister Beatrice Ask,
maintained that prostitution in Sweden, unlike in comparable countries, has not in any case increased since the introduction of the ban on buying sexual services went into effect in 1999.
While the law punishing the client rather than the
prostitute may not have caused a dramatic drop in prostitution as a whole, its true triumph, according to the report, is that street prostitution in Sweden has been halved.
The report also recommends that men should be liable to a a year in
jail for buying sex, rather than the 6 months current maximum sentence.
Offsite: UK Nutters Pounce
Unsurprisingly Julie Bindel has got in first to glory in the