Stop the Harms of Anti-Trafficking Policies: Get CBSA out of Anti-Trafficking Investigations!
Open Letter to All Levels of Canadian Government
MARCH 23 2016
In May 2015, Ottawa police arrested 11 migrant women during an anti-trafficking investigation. None of the women were trafficked but all were deported. Six migrant women, members of Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) were arrested or and deported in December 2015-2016. Anti-trafficking investigations that involve CBSA are pushing migrant sex workers away from support, services, community and safety--and the result is violence. Three migrant Asian sex worker have been killed in Ontario in the previous two years.
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.
Migrant Sex Workers Deserve Access to Safety and Protection
Globally, research shows that sex workers are often the targets of physical and sexual violence, even murder. Three Asian sex workers have being murdered in Ontario in last two years. A 2015 study in Vancouver found that 100% of migrant sex workers reported that they would not seek help from police--even in cases of physical violence. Migrant sex workers have been pushed into a corner where the fear of arrest and deportation prevents them to accessing safety and protection.
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.
Sign the Petition
To stop the harms of anti-trafficking enforcement, strategies and policies and support migrant sex workers to access safety, justice and dignity, we urge all levels of government:
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
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