May 25, 2017 12:52 pm
Updated: May 29, 2017 10:33 am

Why is the Canadian Grand Prix a hub for human trafficking?

Why is the Canadian Grand Prix such a hub for prostitution?

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Human trafficking is rampant during Montreal’s Grand Prix Formula 1 weekend, according to an organization fighting prostitution in the city.

“Women are more targeted during the Grand Prix because sex tourism is in full swing during this event,” explained Martine B. Côté, a spokesperson with the Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLES).

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“Sex buyers know that it is easy to buy sex in Montreal, throughout the year.”

Recently, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he would fight human trafficking during the busy weekend.

READ MORE: Montreal to target human trafficking during Grand Prix weekend

“During the Grand Prix, it is easy to find, on the Internet, packages that offer tickets for the Grand Prix, including free access to dancer bars, private parties with ‘models,'” said Côté.

“The real question is why so many men take advantage of the Grand Prix to exploit women? And why do car-related events often exploit women’s bodies?”

The study, by the Conseil des Montréalaises, an advisory body that addresses issues of gender equality and the status of women on a municipal level, will take place over three years, and will then be presented to the city.

READ MORE: Montreal mayor says Canadian Grand Prix will go ahead in 2017

However, Côté explained, finding out exactly how many women are targetted during the F1 is difficult.

“Women have long been afraid, and still are afraid, of reporting to the police as they are often threatened with reprisals by pimps,” she said.

This is despite the fact that purchasing sexual services has been criminalized in Canada.

“Women are still afraid to report, but clients continue to buy because the law is not really enforced,” Côté told Global News.

Who is most vulnerable to human trafficking?

According to the Canadian Women’s Foundation, over 90 per cent of Canada’s trafficking victims come from within the country’s borders.

The organization found the majority of people brought into the industry are: female, poor, have a history of violence and neglect, a history of child sex abuse and a low level of education, among many other factors.

READ MORE: 32 people charged with 78 offences in Canada-wide human trafficking investigation

A 2013 RCMP study found that worldwide, 98 per cent of sex-trafficking victims are women and girls — some as young as 14-years-old — who are forced to perform sex acts 365 days a year and are required to hand over all or most of the money to their traffickers.

The RCMP estimates traffickers in Canada get about $280,000 for each woman or girl.

The issue of prostitution is not new to Montreal’s F1 weekend.

REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images

“Approximately 50 per cent of victims do not have previous experience dancing in adult entertainment establishments and/or prostituting,” the study states.

“In recent years, individuals with relatively stable backgrounds are increasingly becoming victims of human trafficking.”

How do we end human trafficking in Canada?

It takes policy adoption at all levels of government, insisted the Canadian Women’s Foundation, as well as support groups and prevention education for young children.

The government of Canada created a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and introduced new initiatives to prevent human trafficking, identify victims, protect the most vulnerable, and prosecute perpetrators.

READ MORE: Ashton Kutcher testifies before U.S. Senate committee on human trafficking

Despite the number of women being charged with trafficking offenses, the majority of traffickers are still men aged 19- to 32-years-old.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation task force has also found the buyers are mostly married Caucasian men who are educated, employed, and middle-class.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation task force is working to end sex trafficking.

Canadian Women's Foundation

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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