The Globe and Mail

September 15, 1997

Letter to the Editor,

Re: Toronto sex ring not alone (Sept. 12)

Organized crime makes money from illegal activities such as the sale of arms or drugs and sometimes from prostitution. But if prostitution was not a crime it would no longer be lucrative for organized crime to be involved. Employers would be subject to labour regulations like with other industries.

A recently-published report by Anti-Slavery International, "Redefining Prostitution as Sex Work on the International Agenda" disputes the identification of prostitution as a human rights violation akin to slavery:

"The research reveals that rather than facing conditions of slavery, most men and women working as prostitutes are subjected to abuses which are similar in nature to those experienced by others working in low status jobs in the informal sector."

The report goes on to say that,

"the marginal position of sex workers in society excludes them from the international, national and customary protection afforded to others as citizens, workers or women. Their vulnerability to human and labour rights violations is greater than that of others because of the stigma and criminal charges widely attached to sex work. These allow police and others to harass sex workers without every intervening to uphold their elementary rights."

By charging the Asian women that were working in these illegal "brothels," the police are *forcing* them to say that they were involved involuntarily in order to avoid prosecution. This is extortion. It seems obvious from your article that most of these women knew they would be working in the sex trade and some of them had even been working in the sex trade at home.

While "sex slavery" makes for catchy headlines, this phenomenon of illegal immgrant workers is no different than those women who come to North America illegally to work as domestic workers or nannies. If these women could get well-paying work at home with decent working conditions they would not leave their own kids behind (which often breaks their hearts) to go take care of the children of wealthy North American families in order to send money home to feed their own kids.

A deeper analysis of this situation would also take into account that the developed world benefits greatly from the impoverished conditions in these poorer Asian countries. Think about that the next time you buy a pair of cheap running shoes.


Anastasia Kuzyk, Sex Workers' Alliance of Toronto
Andrew Sorfleet, Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver


[SWAV Letters] [Rights Groups]

Created: September 16, 1997
Last modified: March 6, 1999
SWAV Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710