CBC news in Saskatchewan has produced a major series on issues surrounding prostitution, prominently featuring interviews with MLI senior fellow Benjamin Perrin.
In one part, reporters conducted an investigation into the booming massage parlour business in Regina, revealing that many of the businesses are selling sexual services, something the police know but are powerless to stop. Since Canada’s prostitution laws were struck down by the Supreme Court, Saskatchewan Crown prosecutors have recommended police stop laying charges.
Perrin told the CBC, “These are really places of suspended disbelief. … We all drive by and say ‘Well really? Is this a registered massage therapist at three in the morning with flashing neon lights?’ We all know that’s not what’s happening in there.”
The CBC report also highlights Perrin’s findings in his recent MLI paper, titled “Oldest Profession or Oldest Oppression?: Addressing prostitution after the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R. v. Bedford.”
“What you had is a system that really focused criminal sanction against those people who are, in my view, the victims in these scenarios in many cases. And the men who were paying and driving demand for prostitution and sex trafficking facing virtually no penalties”, said Perrin, who advocates tougher penalties for johns and pimps, and assistance for women to exit prostitution.
In another instalment of the series, the CBC concentrates on human trafficking, and how few prosecutions have been made under Canada’s recently passed laws. Perrin, the author of the book Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking, told the CBC “This suggests that the criminals behind these enterprises are getting away with impunity, profiting lucratively, and we should be extremely concerned that that’s the case.” He adds that “Unfortunately for many of the particularly aboriginal women and girls, we never see exit [from prostitution and human trafficking]. Instead, we see missing reports and bodies in the hundreds now of missing and murdered aboriginal women.”
CBC also reports that a prostitute rescue program in Saskatoon has been put on hold since prostitutes are no longer being prosecuted. Perrin told the CBC that Canada needs more such programs: “There are vastly more massage parlour beds than there are detox beds. That should tell us something about where the resources and the money are going,” he said.