VICTORIA TIMES COLONIST
Wednesday, June 23, 1999
Pimps face tougher B.C. law
Pimps will soon be slapped with restraining orders under provincial legislation introduced Tuesday to combat child prostitution.
The changes to the Child Family and Community Service Act make it clear that assisting or coercing a youth into prostitution is child abuse, said Minister for Children and Families Lois Boone.
"This is at least one more tool for social workers and police to use in the fight against the sexual exploitation of children."
Under the new legislation, social workers will be able to obtain restraining orders against pimps and customers who lure youth into the sex trade. Police will be given authority to enforce the orders.
The penalty for violating a restraining order will be up to $25,000 or up to 24 months in jail or both.
The new rules should be in place by this fall after training for social workers and police is completed.
Police and community groups praised the legislation.
"I think it's long past due. For a long time, kids have been taken into the sex trade with or without their co-operation and there's been very little that people can do about it," said Megan Lewis of the Victoria-based Prostitutes Empowerment Education and Resource Society.
Diane Sowden, of the Coquitlam-based Children of the Streets Society, said the legislation is an important first step.
"It's putting the blame where it belongs," said Sowden, whose daughter was forced into the Vancouver sex trade to pay off a drug debt at the age of 13.
"We need other things in place drug treatment, family support, education but this is away of taking away control from the pimps."
Cpl. Jim Burton of the Coquitlam RCMP said the new rules will be relatively easy to enforce.
"As far as creating extra work for us, I don't believe it will. We're working on these files as it is."
Parents who are concerned their child is being harassed by a pimp will have to contact a social worker to obtain a restraining order.
Police will have to supply evidence of pimping to obtain a restraining order, but under the Child Family and Community Service Act, they will only need to have reasonable grounds to believe a child needs protection.
The Ministry for Children and Families estimates there are 200 to 300 youth under 19 that are involved in prostitution in B.C. The number of pimps operating in the province is unknown.
The changes announced Tuesday are part of series of initiatives designed to deal with concerns raised by parents, who often feel helpless when their children are on the streets, Boone said.
The ministry is still studying the issue of "secure care," in which youth engaged in prostitution and drug use could be placed in treatment facilities against their will.
Created: June 7, 2001
Last modified: June 10, 2001
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