Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation

Valiant Richey, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County, Seattle, WA

Public Lecture, October 16, 2017, Vancouver Public Library, Vancouver, BC

King County is currently piloting a new Demand Reduction Model to reduce commercial sexual exploitation. This model focuses on the participants in these crimes who do have a choice: the buyers who drive demand.

Valiant Richey is a senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County. For the last seven years, Valiant has worked in the Special Assault Unit, which handles cases involving the sexual abuse of children and adults and the physical abuse of children. Currently he is a senior trial attorney in the unit and is responsible for prosecuting cases involving sex traffickers and the purchase of children for sex. In 2013, he was appointed to the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Statewide Coordinating Committee. He has a BA and MA in Political Science from Boston University and a J.D. from the University of Washington.

Event hosted by thetraffickedhuman.org

Lecture Duration: 64 minutes

Q&A Duration: 32 minutes

 

VANCOUVER, Oct. 11, 2017 – A peculiar thing happened in Vancouver when Canada’s new prostitution law came into effect in 2014.

Instead of turning the efforts of law enforcement toward sex buyers, pimps, and traffickers, as the law was intended to do, the exploitation of women has continued apace.

When the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s old prostitution law in 2013, it did so largely because of the inherent risks of prostitution and the fact so few women who engage in it do so voluntarily.

“Whether because of financial desperation, drug addictions, mental illness, or compulsion from pimps, they often have little choice but to sell their bodies for money,” the court said in the Bedford decision.

“These are not people who can be said to be truly 'choosing' a risky line of business.”

As a result, Parliament passed a new law directed at the men responsible for prostitution – the johns, pimps and traffickers – rather than those selling sex often under duress.

Unfortunately, even though police now have the tools they need to crack down on those who profit from selling women for sex, authorities are not taking action.

As police forces across Canada arrest johns, pimps and traffickers, Vancouver has been decidedly apathetic when it comes to enforcing the laws. In the new law’s first two years, not one arrest was made for buying and selling women.

A demonstration at Vancouver City Hall last year drew a variety of groups and individuals demanding action.

Groups such as Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity, and the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution reminded Mayor Gregor Robertson that in 2009 he had signed Vancouver’s Emancipation Proclamation, calling prostitution “violence against women and youth” and committing to work to end human trafficking and prostitution.

Vancouver feminist Jindi Mehat went before the Vancouver Police Board, which Mayor Robertson chairs, and called for police to go after those who are driving the demand for paid sex.

She pointed out the mayor had attended the Modern Slavery and Climate Change workshop in Rome in 2016. “The declaration you signed … committed to ending all forms of slavery including prostitution.”

Some local individuals and groups are so tired of police inaction on prostitution-related crime that they’re bringing in an expert on the subject. Valiant Richey, Senior Deputy Attorney for King County, Wash., will address the issue next Monday, Oct. 16, at the Vancouver Public Library.

Richey has worked for five years in the Special Assault Unit dealing with cases of physical and sexual abuse of children and sexual abuse of adults. He coordinates Buyer Beware: A Partnership to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation and will share lessons in tackling the demand side of commercial sexual exploitation, as well as how the law is being enforced.

Lawyer Gwendoline Allison said the group, which sponsored last year’s Buying Sex Is a Crime campaign, is concerned about the lack of enforcement of prostitution laws in a number of jurisdictions, including Vancouver, and wants to raise public awareness of the problem.

Allison noted Canada’s prostitution law is due for a five-year assessment. “Before the review begins, we want to shed light on the seriousness of the purchase and exploitation of people in our community, the social harm that results from prostitution, the fact that women and children are most negatively impacted, and the inordinate toll it takes on the lives of Indigenous girls, youth, and women.”

The civic apathy on the subject is hard to understand. The Vancouver Police Department’s own Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines recognizes that many are involved in sex work “as a survival mechanism, as result of drug addiction or mental health issues, or are otherwise vulnerable and marginalized.” It says police will treat human trafficking as an investigative priority.

Yet there is no evidence this is taking place. Young women and girls are routinely being forced into prostitution in Canada, with Aboriginal women particularly vulnerable. Hundreds of the Aboriginal women killed in recent decades were prostitutes, many forced to be there by pimps or poverty.

It’s time to end the lie that prostitution is simply a lifestyle choice women make freely. As Justice Beverly McLachlin wrote in the Bedford ruling, while some prostitutes “may fit the description of persons who freely choose (or at one time chose) to engage in the risky economic activity of prostitution… many prostitutes have no meaningful choice but to do so.”

Pope Francis has called human trafficking “an open wound on the body of contemporary society” and a crime against humanity. The individuals trapped within it need our help, and targeting the johns and pimps responsible for their being there is the first step.

Details of Valiant Richey presentation:

Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, 7-9 p.m. (Doors Open at 6:30 p.m.)

Vancouver Public Library, 350 W. Georgia Street

Event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please RSVP by clicking here.  

VANCOUVER, Sept. 14, 2017 – A diverse group of organizations and individuals that sponsored last year’s Buying Sex is a Crime campaign is taking the next step in targeting sexual exploitation of women and young people.

The anti-human trafficking group, which is working to eliminate the sexual exploitation of women, youth and girls, has invited Valiant Richey, Senior Deputy Attorney for King County, Seattle, to speak at the Vancouver Public Library on Monday, Oct. 16.

Richey has worked for five years in the Special Assault Unit dealing with cases of physical and sexual abuse of children and sexual abuse of adults. He coordinates Buyer Beware: A Partnership to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation and will share his city’s experience and lessons learned in tackling the demand side of commercial sexual exploitation, as well as how the law is being enforced.

The group’s spokesperson, lawyer Gwendoline Allison, said the organization supports Canada’s new prostitution law, which makes it a crime to buy sex or profit from the sale of another’s body.

“But this legislation, which was passed in 2014, will be reviewed after five years. Before the review begins, we want to shed light on the seriousness of the purchase and exploitation of people in our community, the social harm that results from prostitution, the fact that women and children are most negatively impacted, and the inordinate toll it takes on the lives of Indigenous girls, youth, and women,” said Allison.

Allison said the group is also concerned about the lack of enforcement of prostitution laws in many jurisdictions, including Vancouver, and wants to raise public awareness of the problem.

Details of Valiant Richey presentation:
Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, 7-9 p.m. (Doors Open at 6:30 p.m.)
Vancouver Public Library, 350 W. Georgia Street
Event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Please RSVP by clicking here.

Contact: Gwendoline Allison 778-919-6173

For more information, visit thetraffickedhuman.org
or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thetraffickedhuman

The Anti-Human Trafficking Coalition is working to eliminate the exploitation of women, youth and girls. The coalition supports Canada’s new law criminalizing those who purchase sex or who profit from the sale of another’s body. We recognize the social harm that results from prostitution, as well as the fact that women and children are most negatively impacted.  Further, it is indisputable that johns, pimps and procurers take an inordinate toll on the lives of First Nations' girls, youth and women; their predation on these communities, and on all communities, must stop.

BC & Yukon Catholic Women's League

Canadian Religious Conference 

Comité d'action contre la traite humaine interne et internationale

Deborah's Gate

Hope for the Sold

Knights of Columbus, BC & Yukon

LifeWay Network

Mothers Against Trafficking Humans

REED - Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver

Talitha Kum

UNANIMA International

U.S. Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking

WEFiGHT.ca

 

The Trafficked Human campaign is guided by the mission to educate and raise awareness of the law around exploited and trafficked individuals in Canada. Through our campaign, we hope to instill upon every citizen that we all have a responsibility to report to law enforcement any evidence of the exploitation of women and youth. Human trafficking is modern day slavery and cannot be tolerated; we can protect trafficked humans by equipping ourselves with knowledge to bring down the root cause of sexual exploitation – demand.

  • Human trafficking/prostitution is modern day slavery and cannot be tolerated. It is exploitation of one person by another in a global, socio-economic context of inequality of power and wealth. Buying sex for money objectifies the human body and commodifies sexual activity making the victim a commodity in a market industry. In Canada, buying sex is a crime.
  • In Canada, buying sex is a crime but in some cities and towns, the law is not being enforced. In 2014, Canada enacted a new law called The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. This law criminalizes the buying of sex and holds the buyers accountable as well as the third party who benefits from commercial sexual exploitation. 
  • Every citizen has a responsibility to be aware and to report to law enforcement any evidence of the exploitation of women and youth. Due to the clandestine nature of prostitution, citizens need to be extra vigilant as it is happening locally, in hotels, apartments, bars and massage parlors in every city and town.   Because of the hidden nature of the crime, it is under reported, therefore needs more public awareness and action.
  • Human trafficking/prostitution is violence against women and children. It is inherently harmful, causing long term physical and psychological damage to the person. 
  • The traffickers lure through false promises the most vulnerable persons in our society ie. Those suffering from poverty, racism, sexism and abuse, mainly women and youth.
  • Trafficking implies an imbalance of power, age, economic stability and education. It is not a choice, nor work. The average age of children being lured into prostitution is 13-16 years of age.
  • The majority of victims of prostitution/trafficking are white Canadians between 14 and 22 years of age. Almost 40% are minors.
  • Trafficking is a criminal industry driven by the ability of predators to make huge profits, with negligible risk of prosecution. Profits generated from sexual exploitation, for the most part kept by traffickers and not taxed, range from $500 to $1000 per day per person forced to provide sexual services; that is between $168,000 and $336,000 per year.  
  • The root cause of sexual exploitation is demand – decrease the demand, decreases the supply. Thus the new law criminalizes the buying of sex but does not criminalize the victims. All levels of government need to support agencies that are providing exiting strategies for those wishing to leave prostitution.  

This billboard in Gastown, Vancouver, is one of several in the Greater Vancouver area.

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