Federal, provincial and municipal initiatives to address human trafficking across Canada are leading to human rights abuses and violence against migrant women in the sex trade. Sex workers, migrants, labour and other human rights organizations have expressed concern about the harmful impact on sex workers and other workers, especially migrant sex workers. We are united in demanding that Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) get out of anti-trafficking investigations and cease threatening migrant women in the sex trade with deportation.
Law enforcement investigations and raids are being used as the central policy and strategy to address the issue of human trafficking. The RCMP and local police conduct these investigations and raids with (CBSA) or share information with them.
The Global Alliance Against the Trafficking of Women (GAATW) has found widespread human rights abuses of migrants and sex workers in the name of anti-trafficking. Law enforcement strategies of arrest, detention and deportation are failed and dangerous methods to address human trafficking.
Because sex work is being incorrectly conflated with human trafficking, sex workers have become the primary targets of these investigations--especially racialized and migrant sex workers. They are experiencing surveillance, harassment, arrest, detention and deportation at unacceptable level. 14 immigrants have died in Canadian border prisons since 2000, two of them in one week in March.
For these reasons, international organizations such as UN Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International and GATTW have stated that the government should shift their focus away from criminal investigation to rights-based approach where migrant sex workers can access support and protection without threat.
1. Shift anti-trafficking policies and strategies to move away from criminal investigations and adopt a rights-based approach.
2. Immediately stop joint law enforcement operations, involvement and information-sharing with CBSA in human trafficking investigations.
For more research on the impacts of anti-trafficking investigations:
Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) Migrant Sex Workers Project Maggie's: Toronto Sex Workers Action Project