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Bill S-210 - An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material - Second Reading

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to Bill S-210, An Act to restrict young persons’ online access to sexually explicit material. I want to thank Senator Miville-Dechêne as this bill’s sponsor for her important work on this matter.

This is a timely and much needed piece of legislation as there is an insidious relationship that exists between pornography and human trafficking. The catalyst of this relationship is the dangerous consumption of pornography by males/females that can lead those individuals to seek to fulfill their own desires through unsavoury means. These unsavoury means include human trafficking, a horrific activity that captures countless Indigenous girls and women in its clutches.

We must address the issue of pornography through an upstream form of intervention, such as Bill S-210. If we fail to do so, the supply-and-demand relationship of sex trafficking wherein porn is one root cause will continue to drive this process of violence and abuse. When the previous Bill C-45 on marijuana legalization was passed, one of our senators asked a gang member what the gangs would do now that this would decrease their revenue. Their response was: We’re not worried. Sex trafficking does not require the upkeep that marijuana does. One trafficker will bring in $250,000 per year with very little upkeep.

Honourable senators, I want to acknowledge our colleague Dr. Yvonne Boyer and Peggy Kampouris who published a May 2014 report entitled Trafficking of Aboriginal Women and Girls. Most of the material I will bring forth comes from that research report.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime defines human trafficking as any situation in which:

. . . force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control . . .

— are used to exploit another person. If any of these qualifiers are present, it’s human trafficking.

In the article Unequal Communities: Exploring the Relationship between Colonialism, Patriarchy and the Marginalization of Aboriginal Women by Jessica Stark, she states:

Since the entrenchment of the Indian Act, the Canadian state has subjected First Nation communities to a lifestyle of dependency where they have been forced to accept and internalize its colonial and patriarchal components. . . . Studies have found women to be particularly vulnerable to this oppression.

Honourable senators, the Indian Act constructed areas of marginalization and vulnerability for First Nations, and these have become the breeding ground for further abuse, including trafficking.

In her 2016 article, Red Intersectionality and Violence-informed Witnessing Praxis, author Natalie Clark speaks on the “emergent diversity of Indigenous girlhood” and the “construction of Indigenous girls through the Indian Act.” She states:

Red intersectionality . . . helps us to understand and address violence against Indigenous girls since it foregrounds context, which in Canada’s case has to include gendered forms of colonialism, and the dispossession of Indigenous lands.

She continues:

Applying a Red intersectional analysis to trauma and girls requires us to consider how the so-called trauma industry —

— including residential school —

— has continued a colonial legacy of labeling and pathologizing Indigenous girls that manages their behaviour through criminalization, medication, and talk therapy programs which ultimately serve “to reinforce a sense of powerlessness and undermine women’s ability-to-to resist.”

In relation to this, Senator Dr. Yvonne Boyer and Peggy Kampouris state:

This study found that sexual exploitation and human trafficking does not occur in isolation but does occur through a number of pathways due to a myriad of related socialeconomic determinants. Family members, gangs and friends recruit through different types of financial and psychological coercion, as well as physical violence. It is because Aboriginal women and girls are subject to poverty, low self-esteem, addictions, mental health issues and poor health, that they are particularly vulnerable to becoming the victims of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation.

Honourable senators, one of the consequences of pornography addiction is that it creates the demand that leads people to perpetuate sex trafficking. How have we ended up in a world where certain people can connect to make a pathway from the world of porn addiction to sex trafficking? This linkage sees the vulnerable child, girl or woman as a possible source of money and exploitation. Why has society created and sustained this world of vulnerability and abuse? Simply put, sex trafficking is one of the most unjust and horrific consequences of porn consumption.

How does this process of trafficking start? Who is targeted and how are they groomed, whether they are seekers of porn on the internet or vulnerable young people who have no stability, security or protection, such as children in care or Indigenous women and girls?

Just as dehumanizing behaviours in domestic violence normalizes dominance, violence, abuse and objectification, there is also a connection to these acts to love, relationship and intimacy. The intertwining of such varied emotions sets the stage for eventual acceptance of violence and aggression in relationships as normal. The presence of domestic violence causes women, children and men to live under threat.

Honourable senators, when is porn no longer enough, and how do trafficked women and girls get involved with traffickers? In the study noted above, a law enforcement participant clarified that:

. . . the pimps are “street level pimps” who subject Aboriginal women and girls to a systemic process of “baiting, grooming, conning and exploitation that often turns into violence and brutality.”

The study goes on to say pimps often provide drugs and alcohol and:

. . . get the victim hooked on opiates so the victim is more easily controlled and then dependent upon the drug and the pimp.

The study also states:

. . . there is always a connection to residential schools in the past . . . This subject matter expert considers the fact that girls and women have had a relative in residential schools as an indicator of vulnerability and a marker of high risk of being trafficked. . . . the recruitment of victims of trafficking in Aboriginal communities is often done by girls who have previously been recruited. For instance, the Children’s Aid Society, young offender centres and group homes, often provide venues for older girls to recruit younger girls connected to them in a family or kinship sense.

Honourable senators, what are the compounding effects and consequences of porn and human trafficking? This activity causes destruction to the lives of those exploited and their families, the costs of which can be linked to the inadequate resources of police enforcement to deal with trafficking as well as the inability of prosecutors and judges to adequately address those issues related to porn and trafficking.

A support agency in Alberta observed that very few of the Aboriginal human trafficking cases that have come to their attention have gone to the court or entered the legal system, stating:

The needs of Aboriginal women and girls who have been, or are being, sexually exploited, go beyond what most support agencies can provide. . . . In addition to immediate medical care, trauma and/or addictions counselling, victimized women and girls often require safe housing, education, additional life skills, sustainable work, mental health supports, culturally-appropriate and safe health care and a coordinated and complete approach to service delivery.

There was exposure to violence from pimps:

. . . who, over the years, had burned their feet, broken their nose, beaten them with an untwisted coat hanger, broken their fingers and jumped on their pregnant abdomen to cause miscarriages. . . . They also noted that one way the pimp had control over them was by controlling their menstrual cycle by directing them to use of birth control pills so they could continue working.

Further:

Physical and mental abuse are routine occurrences . . . Vivid descriptions were provided by one subject matter expert, “Men want to act out what they have seen in the porn industry. The women and girls are tortured, drugged, mentally abused, tied up, pregnant, forced to have abortions, electrocuted, starved, and live in bad conditions. They are cut, raped and raped with objects, they are suffocated and forced to watch violence.”

According to the research:

A number of participants believed that the trafficking of Aboriginal women and girls was part of a wider “Canadian crisis.”

Honourable senators, another troubling piece of research on the reality of human trafficking of Indigenous girls and women surrounds the Aboriginal Custom Adoption Recognition Act in Nunavut. This law recognizes the custom of adoption where children move between families and extended families more fluidly.

According to one subject matter expert:

. . . there are a large number of Inuit babies and children being adopted out of Nunavut, stating that “babies are a valuable commodity.” . . . This subject matter expert also recalled that they believe that, “at last count, 100 babies have been sent out of the territories to non-Inuit families.”

It was cautioned, though:

that once predators (pedophiles, johns, or pimps) become (if they are not already) aware of easy access to children, this could pose a potential problem. . . . A support organization in Nunavut also identified a potential link between adoptions in Nunavut and the vulnerability for children —

— including infants —

— to be trafficked.

This adoption out of community resembles the Sixties Scoop where Indigenous children were adopted out to White families. In the United States and Canada, many of these children were sexually abused.

Honourable senators, participants in this aforementioned study identified human trafficking as a ghost crime, adding that people do not report this type of crime.

A police officer in B.C. was quoted as saying:

“A number of years ago, when I did investigate files, in hindsight, I should have been laying human trafficking charges, but I wasn’t aware of the subject at the time.”

A southern Ontario officer stated “Human trafficking is far more prevalent than people realize. . . . It will become more prevalent because of social media.”

An officer from a western province noted “As Police, we’re standing on the tracks and can see it coming for many years.”

Honourable senators, every young child has the right to live a life unmarred by violence. Indigenous children, through residential school, day schools and the Sixties Scoop which are all forms of human extraction from their natural habitat and consequent institutionalization and based on the same concepts of human trafficking: assimilation, grooming and economic benefit.

These young children had lost their right to a life unmarred by violence, and that loss must never be forgotten. It should also be enough of a catalyst to prompt an immediate resolution before more Indigenous women and girls fall prey to this unspeakable activity.

As Senator Miville-Dechêne stated in her November 24 media release:

Parents and pediatricians are asking for help and it is high time parliamentarians supported them. It is about the protection and safety of our young people.

Colleagues, we, as parliamentarians, should do all we can in working towards a resolution of the issue of sex trafficking. A first step to this is beginning to break the link that exists between pornography and human trafficking, which Bill S-210 will do.

Honourable senators, I urge you to stand with me in support of this critical legislation. Thank you.

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