The Laval Police service (SPL) did not mince words when they presented a brief to the provincial Select Committee on the Sexual Exploitation of Minors Monday, recalling that “to build an adult prostitute, you must first destroy a young person,” and that the growing phenomenon “must be seen as an “ecosystem composed not of prostitutes, pimps and clients, but of victims, exploiters and abusers.”
It’s part of a wider regional submission and a position taken by Programme prévention jeunesse de Laval, which after three years of research and analysis, finds that it is society’s trivialization of sexual exploitation at the heart of the problem. “Despite the means of persuasion and security deployed by all those who can help victims, fear or refusal to collaborate often prevails,” said SPL director Pierre Brochet. “In the absence of independent evidence, it becomes impossible to go further in a legal process.”
Laval’s top cop says that if these young people don’t view themselves as victims it’s because of the normalization in our communities “of what is wrongly called the sex industry. But in our vision, bodies and people can not, neither be nor become, objects of commercial transactions.”
The brief speaks about the dozens of men arrested since 2016 by the SPL for sexual exploitation of minors, noting “none of them showed signs of nervousness when entering the room where there was to be a minor. On the contrary, the level of excitation was high.” Men of all ages, backgrounds and professions, only “having in common to have the money to pay the right to sexually abuse the body of minors.”
In Quebec, it is estimated that sexual services generate 2.6 million transactions per year, or more than 7,000 per day. To reverse the situation, say police and youth workers, the support of the population is essential and social acceptability must begin.
Beyond a national campaign aimed at normative messages such as drunk driving, which, since the 1990s has insisted that it was unacceptable and criminal to drive while impaired – advocates want to see a permanent national strategy in place. “By making the marketing of sexual relations with minors odious, intolerable and criminal, this change in social acceptability will have a major impact on demand,” says the statement. “Because it is not the supply that creates the demand, but the demand that creates the supply.”
Government action can also ensure real, concrete and long-term impact, especially through a broader perspective of prevention, education and awareness, and specific training for socio-judicial actors. Also, suggested is a closer look at the ethical behavior of accommodation services.
According to the commission, the hotel sector and short-term accommodation rental platforms provide pimps with places to organize their activities as social networks facilitate their work, with many popular websites and applications used by pimps as youth recruitment platforms. The tourism industry is also fueling demand, with organizations active in the field noting increases in sexual service announcements at major events, circumstances that often coincide with a tragic increase in the number of runaways.
The special committee was struck by the Legault government last summer to create a portrait of the sexual exploitation of minors in Quebec, including the consequences on their transition to adulthood.
The public hearings take place this week and consultations will run through the winter.
The submission filed is supported by several regional organizations including:
Center for Victims of Crime (CAVAC) in Laval, Laval Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS), Mesures alternatives jeunesse (MAJ) de Laval, Laval Police Service, Centre d’interventions en délinquance sexuelle (CIDS)
Commission scolaire de Laval
City of Laval
Travail de Rue Île de Laval (TRÎl)
Presided over by Vachon MNA and former cop Ian Lafrenière and Acadie MNA Christine St-Pierre, the commission includes Sainte-Rose MNA Christopher Skeete and had the participation of Chomedey MNA and former police detective Guy Ouellete.
Briefs are accepted until March 1, 2020. For more information visit http://www.assnat.qc.ca/fr/travaux-parlementaires/commissions/csesm-42-1/index.html