Canada’s adult entertainment wages war on our youth

I am very grateful for the growing number of male colleagues that are joining in the fight to defend dignity.  Chris Smith, pastor of the Estevan Alliance Church in Saskatchewan and excellent communicator has this to say today in this guest blog which he gave me permission to post.  You can check out his blog here.

I have seen the monster and he is me

A couple of weeks ago a story broke in the media about a particularly offensive response to new government legislation aimed at curbing human trafficking in Canada. Apparently the gist of the story was that the government of Canada was no longer going to be extending visas for foreign workers entering into the adult entertainment industry (i.e. strippers, escorts, adult film actors, and (unofficially) prostitutes. The official reason given was that, “Canadians have told us they want us to put a stop to foreign workers entering Canada to work in businesses where there are reasonable grounds to suspect a risk of sexual exploitation,” wrote Alexis Pavlich, spokesperson for the ministry of citizenship and immigration.
You can read up on the story in multiple news outlets – a quick Google search of AEAC recruitment visa will pull up pages of news articles on what’s been happening. The article that caught my attention was this one from Canada.com.
In reaction to the legislation that aims to curb their questionably legal source of labour, Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, responded by saying that they would be approaching foreign college and university students on student visas to fill the positions – advertising it as a great way to pay for tuition. His rationale was that ‘Exotic Dancer’ implies foreign – and that the market demanded beautiful foreign girls take off their clothes and dance on poles for men. It was then that the other shoe dropped. It was also revealed by the minister of citizenship of immigration that the adult entertainment sector would no longer be able to recruit any temporary foreign workers to work in their industry; citing statistics that demonstrate that perpetrators of human trafficking frequently lure young women away from home with promises of more germane employment only to trap them into the sex industry through a conflation of drugs, abuse and debt-slavery – an example being the story of Timea Nagy which is chronicled in this article in CNEWS on July 5.  Timea was lured to Canada with the promise of a summer job as a nanny – but when she arrived in Toronto she was informed that she owed her employer $3000 for travel expenses and would be forced to work off the debt as a stripper and sex worker (prostitute) or they would kill her family back home.
As shocking as this all is – so far this has all been set-up for the bombshell that was dropped last week. Growing increasingly frustrated with the government making it hard for them to do business, Mr. Lambrinos indicated that the AEAC would have no choice then, given the restraints placed upon them, to start recruiting workers for his industry at Canadian high school job fairs. Deliberately stoking the flames of public outrage he mused in the media,
“We’re reacting to the government … They’re saying we’re going to strip you of your workforce… The government is saying, indirectly, you need to get more aggressive and more proactive at recruiting locally… We’re not going to take it lying down.”
And with that shot across the bow the internet erupted in a mix of outrage and absurdity. Every reaction you could imagine started popping up in comment sections at the bottom of news articles, in Facebook discussions, in op-ed pieces sent into newspapers and in the blogosphere. Some thought that the government had gone too far in depriving the foreign workers of the protection that comes from a perpetually renewed visa, some thought that the AEAC had gone too far in talking about recruiting in high schools (keeping in mind of course that less than half of high school students will be 18 years old by the time they graduate across Canada) – but the most commonly heard type of comment of all was a variation on the theme, “If you come near my daughter I’ll kill you!
Now I would venture a guess that very few commenters meant that literally – this is Canada after all, we don’t generally behave that way – but the sentiment behind the puffed up rhetoric was frighteningly genuine. As a father now of a beautiful baby girl I cannot deny that my adrenaline started pumping at the thought of someone trying to recruit my little princess into the adult entertainment industry; how dare anyone treat her like that, how dare anyone expect that she is a commodity to be used and discarded for their perverted sense of pleasure. She is my daughter. She is precious, and perfect and worth far more than that. And I like all the other fathers imagining the consequences of that statement by the AEAC (and of course mothers too) was ready to cry for blood and ready to support any measures possible to keep these sickos away from our young women. After all, what sort of horrible person would subject our young women to this sort of predatory industry that uses them up and spits them out? What sort of person would stand by and do nothing while these women are recruited into a life of slavery (which is not too harsh a word – do some research on what happens to many of the women in this industry defenddignity.ca is a great place to start) while we stand on the sidelines and do nothing because they are pursuing a ‘legal’ career choice and the free-market needs their services?
The answer to that question was staring me in the mirror – it was me.
It was me, and you, and the overwhelming majority of Canadians who have turned a blind eye to the horrors of the sex trade in Canada for too long. It was we, who chose not to notice or respond when evidence of horrible crimes in human trafficking was brought to the media’s attention. It was we who didn’t seem to care when the news story was about foreign women being recruited into the adult entertainment industry but who became an angry mob complete with pitch-forks and torches when the spectre of our daughters being the next generation of strippers was raised. We are the guilty ones – and our anger and outrage at this publicity stunt by the AEAC betrays us.
God forgive us for so dehumanizing these women that we couldn’t muster the anger to rise to their defence when our society’s depravity was stealing away their youth, their innocence and their future. God forgive us for considering ourselves so much more important than them, and our daughters so much more precious than them. Every woman is someone’s daughter; every girl dancing on a pole, every teenager forced into prostitution, every young woman who is compelled – by violence, debt, drug-addiction or a lifetime of abuse and neglect – to take off her clothes so some man can dehumanize her with his eyes is someone’s daughter.  God forgive me for not doing anything to stop this.
I’m honestly shaken and disturbed by this self-realization and so today is just about me getting this off my chest. I’ve no applications for you today – no pithy three-step plans to make a difference – just a request that we stop living in ignorance. The world is a terribly messed up place – just because we can keep it out of our backyards doesn’t mean we aren’t responsible for what happens behind the fence.
Just my thoughts,
Chris