Monday, November 20, 2000 7:50 PM EST

Group: protect kids from sex trade

WINNIPEG — A national group is calling for tougher laws to protect children against the sex trade and pornography.

The call was made in Winnipeg and came in part from a woman who lost a child in one of the most notorious sex crimes in Canadian history.

Most nights in Winnipeg, summer and winter, prostitutes as young as 12 years old work the streets. It is just one indication, critics say, of the growing sexual exploitation of children in Canada.

A group calling itself the Committee to End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking has released a wish list it says will help children avoid becoming targets of the sex trade and sex crimes.

That 'wish list' calls for:

  • A Federal plan of action.
  • Raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16.
  • The elimination of the child-sex tourism trade and prostitution.

Speaking with the group is Debbie Mahaffy. Her daughter Lesley was kidnapped, sexually tortured and murdered by Paul Bernardo. Mahaffy now works in the Ontario government office of Victims of Crimes.

"We're placing the responsibility of not being exploited on the children. There's something wrong," she says.

The group admits it faces a hurdle from the Supreme Court, which may strike down existing anti-child pornography laws, but it thinks it has a solution.

"When thinking of those who drafted the not withstanding clause, we can think of no better reason to use that clause," says child advocate Roz Prober.

Four years ago, the foreign affairs minister of the day, Lloyd Axworthy, promised to fight child sexual exploitation. The group says the government has failed to do that.

[Winnipeg 2000] [News by region] [News by topic]

Created: December 6, 2000
Last modified: January 21, 2001
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