Advocate urges Winnipeg city council to protect women, girls from the sex trade

The City of Winnipeg is looking into changing licensing by-laws for sex trafficking oranizations. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

As the inner circle of Winnipeg’s city council debates the future of escort services and body rub parlours in the city on Wednesday, a longtime advocate tells 680 CJOB that removing their licences would send “a powerful message” to the rest of the country.

“It’s really an important and incredible and powerful message to say that in the city of Winnipeg, women and girls are not for sale,” said Diane Redsky, executive director of Ma Mawi Chi Itata Centre.

“We know that these venues are where women are sexually exploited. They are sexually assaulted, financially exploited, and experience high rates of violence. So closing these establishments is sending a message to all of Canada that the city of Winnipeg prioritizes the safety and protection of women and girls in their city.”

Redsky, whose organization offers community resources to Indigenous families, told 680 CJOB she commends the city for looking into the problem.

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“The role that the City of Winnipeg plays as a regulator is that when we know these things go on behind closed doors, why would we want to make more of them? I congratulate the city for taking the last six months to do consultations and talk to many experts and community leaders.”

Redsky said that what needs to be done is to establish the root causes leading to these facilities opening in the first place.

“Sexual exploitation and sex trafficking operates on the same premise as business,” she said.

Read more: Nygard case helps shine a light on reality of sex trafficking in Winnipeg, victims say

“It’s supply and demand, and so there will always be a supply of, particularly, Indigenous women and girls as long as there’s a demand. … It’s critically important to address the demand, and lots of advocates have done many things throughout the years to address that.”

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