Tag Archives: Sex trafficking

Backpage.com Investigated for Facilitating Online Trafficking

Backpage.com Investigated for Facilitating Online Trafficking

Corporate profit over ethical practices. Cowardice versus courage. Backpage.com is brought out from the shadows and we now learn just what this business is – a vehicle for human trafficking. Everything was laid out in the United States Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee Investigation and Hearing:

Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking

There is no denying that pimps have long been using online sites such as this one to advertise their property, their human property. The key point is that such businesses have been unwilling to shut these pimps down. That type of advertising makes up a huge portion of their business and I think it has become clear that Backpage.com doesn’t mind money that flows from criminal exchanges.

Backpage.com attended this hearing but it was evident they were not interested in participating. It was also predictable that Backpage.com’s CEO Carl Ferrer, Andrew Padilla COO, former owners James Larkin and Michael Lacey along with their Attorney Elizabeth McDougall would all hide like cowards behind the First and Fifth Amendments. I found it a little funny that as each question was asked, they all had to look down at a script to invoke their rights. After saying it a few times you would think they would know the statement by memory.

After their pitiful appearance this panel was invited  to stay in order to hear from the second panel of witnesses – parents of children who have been trafficked and advertised on their pages. The entire Backpage.com gang left like only cowards do.

I’m not sure how long the video is available to the public but if it is still available…

I implore you to listen to Nacole, the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was a victim of trafficking, sold on backpage.com and forever changed by her experience. Listen to each of these parents and know that they are like all of us. They are trying to find a way to stop businesses like Backpage.com from profiting from crime and exploiting children. They are shocked by the way the Internet has facilitated the selling of human beings and in particular children.  The isolation each family feels in their fight to find their loved one, navigate the systems and access help afterwards is understood as they speak.  These are the reasons why we need to continue a discussion on how we can help.

I also encourage you to listen to this whole video, as long as it is, because there are very few opportunities to see all of these people in the same room addressing such an important issue. These people may be in the United States but as I sit here in Canada and you sit where you sit we are all impacted by this.

We are not immune. Access to your children is possible and if you listen towards the end of this video you will hear from the parents about the need for prevention and education. Resources are required and there has to be a fundamental shift in our belief that this is happening to “other people.”

We might naively believe that corporations will do the right thing if the public is made aware. We might even believe that there are lines a corporation would not cross but all too often now we see very powerful people’s dirty secrets being revealed and still they fight to suppress it. They try to deny or hide not because they are fearful or even remorseful but simply because there is too much money at stake.

I guess as consumers we have some influence but what else do you think needs to be done in order to hold a company like Backpage.com responsible and help victims of human trafficking?

The truth about the sex industry

This week a joint effort by police in both Canada and the United States resulted in 197 arrests for human trafficking. “Operation Northern Lights” and a similar operation south of the border called “Operation Cross Country IX” has helped to rescue sexually exploited individuals including children as young as 14 years old.

CTV News report – Cross-border human trafficking investigation leads to 197 arrests

Joint operations between police forces and continued cooperation between agencies remains a crucial component to addressing the issue of human sex trafficking. I can’t stress enough how important it is for citizens to recognize the impact this crime is having on our society. There are real people behind the headlines, likely women and children, who will need considerable support going forward.

With this in mind, I want to introduce you to a video that features three women who got out of the sex industry. A former stripper, porn star and prostitute talk about the reality of their existence and what it was like to rebuild their lives.  Many points hit home with me but especially as they described the moment they dared to dream and felt worthy enough to set goals. It was a hard road to follow in the pursuit of finding self along with work and relationships that were nurturing. Truly remarkable and inspiring!

These women are part of Treasures – an organization that provides outreach and support to women in the sex industry and sex trafficking victims. They are better equipped than I to share how difficult it is to recover, so please take the time to hear from these incredible women who survived and now thrive.  It was mentioned in the interview that Treasures helps those who are transitioning out of the industry by addressing gaps in employment which is a challenge when seeking new employment –  support is provided. Check out Part 1 – 4 of this video The Aftermath

and then…..

The following video also features Harmony Dust who is the Founder/Executive Director of Treasures and she is joined by other women and men who share the truth about the sex industry.

Sex Sells: Who Pays The Price

Canada’s New Prositution Law: Operating in the dark

There is no light strong enough to pierce the darkness of something that thrives on the death of dignity and respect.

A new prostitution law, Bill C-36, has come to pass which will criminalize the purchase of sex but decriminalize the selling. Other necessary measures for child and community protection are built into the law but as of December 6th, 2014 Canada embarks on a new path.

Like anything there is always a backlash and this time it comes from Toronto Councillors who have asked local police not to uphold the law. Member of Parliament, Joy Smith, has written an op-ed in the Huffington Post outlining how appalled she is with their actions.


In Ms. Smith’s post there are links to studies that concluded that legalization of prostitution in other countries did not protect women and children. However, despite facts such as these we find ourselves with Councillors and a flurry of media outlets focusing their efforts on perpetuating myths like:

* Prostitution is a ‘profession’ that can keep its workers safe if it is out in the open

* Is not exploitative in nature and for the majority is an empowered choice

Hope for Sold has covered the topic of human sex trafficking and traveled extensively to document what is really happening with prostitution and its relationship to trafficking. Their latest blog ENSURING THE SUCCESS OF CANADA’S PROSTITUTION LAW begins the conversation about how this law is not enough and that we must look at the issue of sexual exploitation in more depth.

Depth on any topic these days is hard to find as most people tend to seek out that which already supports their position. I’ve tried to listen to those that want prostitution to be legal and those that oppose based on mostly religious grounds. I support neither. It doesn’t surprise me that the new law will be controversial or that the media will find sex workers who claim it will hurt them. The voices of those most harmed by this trade will always remain hidden from our view.

To me, prostitution operates in the dark with or without legalization. It survives based on the secrecy of its users who risks losing or endangering loved ones through their behaviour and the secrecy of individuals or gangs that profit from its existence. There is no light strong enough to pierce the darkness of something that thrives on the death of dignity and respect.


Bill C-36 Adopted – Next Steps

Check out this link to the video Justice and Human Rights July 10th, 2014

I encourage you to hear the speakers but in particular Michelle and Jay Brock from Hope for the Sold. (They are the second speakers) I think their presentation helped to clarify distinct points and I liked their genuineness and sense of humour. Their experience interviewing those in other countries who have dealt with the issue of prostitution and sex trafficking was also impactful.

I know it’s long, as each speaker gets 10 minutes so maybe listen in stages if you can’t spare the time.

Why watch?

1. This is democracy in action

2. While you and I go about our day, very real decisions are being made that will directly affect our communities.

3. These people are representatives and whether you agree or disagree with them, it is good to be open to hearing their experiences and opinions.

Internet search bar with phrase prostitution





Destination Sex

Vegas! the lights, the hotels, the shows; just ignore the rest of its notorious history. “Prostitution, gambling, and anything else your heart desires, made to measure in Vegas baby!  Check out the brothels: The women are beautiful and they love what they do, (or else they wouldn’t be there) it’s a pleasure dome, bring your money!”

“81 percent of women working in the legal brothels of Nevada would like to escape it“, does that sound like women who like what they are doing? This information was based on research interviews of the women in legal brothels. (Go to nevadacoalition.org and the book Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections.)

More emphasis seems to be placed on the attraction to buying and selling women in some counties within the state of Nevada, then deterring the exploitation. Though it must be said that prostitution is not legal in the county in which Las Vegas resides, it certainly seems the reputation precludes the reality.

For those that work with women within the industry itself, there may be a different perception than the glitz and glamorous lifestyle one may be lead to believe exists. Many women victimized by the industry have indicated a need for safe passage out, that does not jeopardize their life or their family, along with retraining, education and psychological and/or addiction counselling. But why invest in that, when each county is receiving a hefty tax base from the selling of women’s bodies. On top of that, is the underground sex market. Vegas was declared a major center for the sex trafficking of minors, now that is a whole other can of worms.


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas“. No, it does not. Thailand, Amsterdam, and many more destinations for sex tourism, circle our globe dealing in the same philosophy and misogyny. In fact here in Vancouver, sex trafficking and exploitation is also a problem and will become even more so in the time leading up to the 2010 Olympics. Prostitution is not legal in Vancouver, but along with it are the strip clubs, porn establishments and massage parlors, embedded just like any other large city. I guess the only difference between Vancouver and its known under-current of depravity is that Vegas advertises their sin city. I’m not sure that most of us are too happy about contributing to prostitution, exploitation and organized crime in our own neighbourhoods, but apparently for some it is nice to go partake in another community.

You see, I’m not interested in lining the pockets of people, towns or establishments that knowingly participate in the buying and selling of humans. A woman or child’s body is not for sale in my books, it is to be cherished in the same way I cherish mine. Whether you want to believe that the smiles and propaganda that is perpetuated is true, and that any human would “choose” to be three holes for penetration, or dance nude because they couldn’t dream of being anything else, is up to you. The girl or woman performing any act on the street, stage or screen is just as faceless; and those that pay, care not how she got there or what or whom is keeping her there.

I also refuse to not link what happens in areas such as Vegas, Bangkok, Amsterdam, Vancouver or any place in the world, to a growing profitable business of human trafficking. They are linked to this despicable act against human souls along with the social apathy and politics that keeps it prevalent. Unlike drugs, one human body can be sold over and over again, it is a resource that keeps on giving. Until it no longer is profitable, then it is expendable like any trash.

Sometimes it may be hard to tell that we are walking into an establishment that is linked to crime or profits from the sale of women or children. However, I think it is safe to assume that any place that offers a woman’s body for consumption, or any town or country that advertises itself as a destination for such, isn’t hiding who is buttering their bread.

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