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News + Events: 2009 Archives

New Video Featuring Buying Sex Is Not a Sport

a-slam music productions used their talents to write and produce a song on sex trafficking. Check it out.




Abolition Coalition Announces Launch

Check out this piece on the Vancouver Abolition Coalition.  REED is an active member, and together with other groups is imagining more for women than the buying and selling of their bodies.







Legalization Won't Make Prostituted Women Safe.

"The violence in prostitution comes not from the law, but from male pimps and buyers."


Janine Benedet
The Globe and Mail
Wednesday, Oct. 07, 2009


Supporters of the prostitution industry want us to believe that women would be safe if men's purchase of women for sex is legalized. In the name of women's security, they are arguing in an Ontario court this week that male johns and pimps have a constitutional right to buy and sell women. They are claiming that prostitution is women's work and that legalizing it would advance women's liberty. Opposition is dismissed as based on “moral panic.” A closer look at the violent reality of prostitution exposes the utter fallacy of these claims.


Andrew Evans was convicted of second-degree murder by a jury in Vancouver last week for the 2007 killing of Nicole Parisien, a 33-year-old aboriginal woman. Mr. Evans admitted that he killed Ms. Parisien by beating and strangling her and that he dumped her body in the bushes. The only legal issue was whether he intended to kill her when he attacked her. The answer determined whether he was guilty of murder or manslaughter.

Legally, this case broke no new ground. But a closer look tells us a lot about male violence against women and its relationship to prostitution.

Mr. Evans told the police that he contacted Ms. Parisien after finding her through the “erotic services” category on Craigslist. The Kitsilano apartment where they met was not her home; the evidence suggested that it was used regularly for prostitution. Online services such as Craigslist are becoming an increasingly important venue for the advertising of prostitution.
Mr. Evans said he agreed to pay Ms. Parisien $200. He became enraged when she couldn't maintain his erection, hitting her and choking her to death.

The murders of aboriginal women, mostly by white men, sometimes connected to the prostitution industry, are all too common in this country. Aboriginal women's groups and Amnesty International have documented hundreds of cases of missing and murdered women. Many have not been solved or even fully investigated, the disappearances blamed on the women's “high-risk” lifestyle.

Being prostituted places women at risk, to be sure, but it is not a “lifestyle” that aboriginal women just happen to choose in larger numbers than other women. Promoters of prostitution want the public to believe that prostitution is safe when it happens indoors. But moving prostitution out of sight does nothing more than keep the abuse private and the abusers mostly anonymous.
Mr. Evans was by all accounts a regular guy – a former member of his university rugby team who had volunteered as a peer counsellor. But he was possessed of a sense of male sexual entitlement that led him to believe that he should be able to buy a woman who would meet his sexual demands and that she was worth so little that she could be physically assaulted when she failed to do so.

Ms. Parisien's family has rejected the suggestion that she was a prostitute, maintaining that she was an “escort.” This is an understandable response to grief. But dressing up this abuse as a form of work obscures its casual brutality.

Ms. Parisien was advertised in a mainstream medium, she was prostituted at a prominent apartment building, the suite was monitored with a living-room security camera and yet she died within a minute or two of Mr. Evans's first blow. Legalizing men's purchase of women for sex would change nothing about the arrangement through which Mr. Evans met and killed Ms. Parisien, but it would officially confirm his belief that he was entitled to use her body until he was satisfied. It would also absolve the state from doing anything to address the social conditions that produce a supply of women to be prostituted, or providing the necessary support for women to exit.

The violence in prostitution comes not from the law, but from male pimps and buyers such as Andrew Evans. Canada ought to follow the example of Sweden, decriminalizing women like Nicole Parisien but criminalizing the men who buy and pimp them. We need laws that support the abolition of prostitution rather than its normalization. But if the courts strike down the prostitution laws because they find that men have a Charter-protected right to buy women's bodies, it will become much more difficult for Parliament to enact a law that recognizes prostitution as fundamentally contrary to women's equality.


Janine Benedet is an associate professor in the faculty of law at the University of British Columbia.



Sex Slaves Found in Edmonton Massage Parlour

Alleged Sex Slaves Rescued

Calgary Sun

Andrew Hanon

September 11, 2009


EDMONTON -- Police say they've rescued three terrified immigrant women from sexual slavery in a massage parlour. They allege the women, one originally from China and two from Fiji, were lured to Edmonton from other Canadian cities with the promise of jobs as masseuses, but ended up under lock and key and forced into prostitution.


It's the first time in Western Canada that anyone's been charged with human trafficking since the Criminal Code was amended in 2005 to make it a specific crime. Just after midnight on Sept. 5, city police and RCMP raided Sachi Professional Massage and Spa and a nearby apartment. They arrested a man and a woman as they were leaving Sachi and found four more women inside. One was arrested and the other three were the alleged trafficking victims.


According to Det. Dave Schening, the victims, who spoke almost no English, were terrified. "There were a lot of tears and initial reluctance to talk with police," he said. Through interpreters, "I was able to assure them that they were the victims and they weren't in trouble."


He said the women's identification was taken from them.

They lived at the massage parlour, he said, and were expected to service clients 24 hours a day.

"They ate, drank and slept in the room they worked in."

They weren't beaten, tied up or physically harmed, he said. The terror of shame was enough to keep them in line. Schener said he "was shocked. I didn't realize the scope of this enslavement."


Charges were laid against Mei Fang Chen, 33, Xiu Zheng Chen, 32, and Qui Wang, 41. Among the charges are human trafficking and living off the avails of prostitution. They are scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 21.



"Buying Sex Is Not a Sport" September Speak

Join us for the first fall event of "Buying Sex Is Not a Sport" on September 18 at 10th Avenue Alliance Church. Speakers will include:



Michelle Miller - REED

Trisha Baptie - Honor Ministries and Consulting

Alice Lee - Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter

Phil Reilly



Event Details:

September 18, 2009


11 10 Ave. West




View the Langara Dialogues on Shaw TV

On June 17 Buying Sex Is Not a Sport is co-sponsored an informative and challenging evening with the Langara Dialogues at the Vancouver Public Library.  Speakers included:  Michelle Miller (REED), Jackie Lynne (Aboriginal Women's Action Network), Annabel Webb (Social Justice Visiting Scholar at UBC Law School and Co-founder of Justice for Girls), and Trisha Baptie (Honor Ministries).  The Dialogues will be aired on Shaw TV numerous times throughout July and August.

The Langara Dialogues (60minutes) airing weekly in July and August:
Saturdays @ 4-5pm
Sundays @ 4:30-5:30am
Sundays @ 2-3pm
Mondays @ 1-2am
Mondays @ 4:30-5:30am


Watch here for information on upcoming forums this fall!



In the News: Buying Sex Is Not a Sport

Campaign to raise awareness of potential sex trafficking at 2010 Games
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The Canadian Press

The 2010 Winter Olympics are expected to attract thousands of spectators to Vancouver, raising concern that organized criminals may traffic women to keep up with demand for sex. The 2010 Winter Olympics are expected to attract thousands of spectators to Vancouver, raising concern that organized criminals may traffic women to keep up with demand for sex.


Anti-trafficking groups that include former prostitutes are launching a campaign to draw attention to what they say will be a huge demand for paid sex for thousands of men attending the 2010 Olympics.

Organizers of the "Buying Sex Is Not a Sport" campaign say large events such as the Olympic Games fuel the growing human trafficking industry that lures women into the sex trade.

Michelle Miller, who heads the group Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity (REED), said Thursday the campaign will involve a series of community forums to get people talking about why men buy sex and exploit women.

"We're doing this very strategically as a grassroots campaign, not as some sort of a mass-media campaign, so that we can really educate people and engage people in meaningful change in their community," she said.

The campaign will begin Friday, with representatives of a First Nations group discussing over-representation of aboriginal women in the sex trade, and ex-prostitutes who say Canada's laws should target the buying of sex as violence against women — the same as in Sweden.

Miller pointed to other sporting events, including the 2006 World Cup soccer championship in Germany, where the increase in demand for sex resulted in the construction of so-called sex huts or performance boxes for use by prostitutes who serviced male spectators attending the tournament.

While prostitution is legal in Germany, Miller said men buy sex when they congregate in large numbers and that will happen at the 2010 Games in Vancouver as organized criminals traffic women from other jurisdictions to keep up with demand.

"Any time that you have men who are travelling, so they're away from their social networks and they enjoy a degree of anonymity, they're more likely to purchase sex," she said.

"We see that with conventions, we see that with sporting events, and some of the women who are part of planning this campaign have actually been sold at sporting events."
Learn from Sweden

Miller said Canada needs to follow the example of Sweden, where a 1999 law prohibits prostitution by addressing it as violence against women, and sex-trade workers exiting the industry are offered support.

In 2002, Sweden also launched a massive public education campaign that raised awareness about prostitution and human trafficking.

Former sex worker Trisha Baptie, who will be speaking at the launch of the Vancouver campaign, said society has too often focused on the women involved in the sex trade while paying little attention to the johns, pimps and profiteers.

"It's violence against women," said Baptie, who left behind her life of standing on street corners eight years ago.

"You're not anti-sex if you're anti-prostitution," she said. "I am for the Swedish model of law, which criminalizes the demand and decriminalizes the women. So it focuses on the procuring, the pimping and the trafficking.

"The women are the victims. Leave them alone."

Jackie Lynne, a spokeswoman for the Aboriginal Women's Action Network, which is also participating in the campaign, said she's hoping people will start to discuss prostitution in a meaningful way that leads to change.

"I'm hoping that out of this will come a different view of the situation, that federally, ministers and legislators will begin to shift in their thinking,... that they will look at prostitution as a form of violence against women because really, truly, it is."

Kate Quinn, who runs the Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton, said she commends the organizers of the Vancouver campaign in the lead-up to the Olympics because creating awareness about prostitution at the community level led to changes in her city.

"We've worked with community partners to continually raise awareness on the demand side," she said. "We've asked our police commission to focus on the exploiters, the perpetrators and the profiteers.

"It's too easy to point fingers either at the women standing on the street corners or the women in massage parlours and forget that there are men who are the other part of the equation."

Quinn, who has run a prostitution education program for johns since 1996 as a way to divert them from the court system, said the city erected "Report a John" signs around Edmonton after the community took action to stop the proliferation of the sex trade.



Sex Trafficking and the 2010 Olympic Games

Join us on May 22 at 8:15pm for the launch of Buying Sex Is Not a Sport at the Vancouver International Film Centre. The evening will feature a panel of speakers including: Trisha Baptie (Honor Ministries), Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN), Michelle Miller (REED) and Aaron White (614Vancouver).


At 8pm and 10pm Creative World Justice and Servants Vancouver are screening Holly, a film on child trafficking in Cambodia, in the main theatre. Tickets for the film are $15. Proceeds will be donated to REED and Big Sisters Cambodia. Call (800) 604-4630 or email for tickets.



Buying Sex Is Not a Sport is a grassroots campaign to raise awareness and effect change around sex trafficking and the 2010 Olympic games. The demand for sexual access to the bodies of women and children fuels human trafficking. Women and children in Metro Vancouver and Whistler are routinely coerced into the flesh trade to meet this demand, and a large sporting event such as the 2010 Olympics will only further exploitation through a rise in the demand for paid sex.

This campaign will spread the message broadly through community-based public forums, postering campaigns, promotional materials, and a website. The forums will engage people through film and narrative from women who have exited prostitution, frontline workers, Aboriginal women, males who have contributed to the demand for paid sex or are willing to speak out about it, feminists, Christ Followers and academics. People are then encouraged to engage in a variety of meaningful actions to interfere with the demand for paid sex and to stand in dignity with marginalized women.



What If We Only Criminalize the Users and Abusers?

Sweden did, and with stunning success, says a new book about johns. Could it work here?

Apr 12, 2009
Leslie Scrivener, Toronto Star


In the international exploitation and trafficking of women for sex, it's men, the customers, who have been overlooked, writes Victor Malarek, in his new book, The Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men who Buy It. One of Canada's top investigative reporters, Malarek urges governments to go after the johns, whom he calls "the users and abusers."


Some claim that women choose to work as prostitutes, but you call it the ultimate act of humiliation and desperation.

A very small number do it by choice. Studies show that the vast majority, 89 per cent in one, desperately want out. They're hungry, need to feed children or give health care to aging parents, and the only alternative is to take their clothes off and service platoons of men.

They can't get any other work?

Not in many Third World countries or where sex tourists go. For women in Moscow, Kiev, other parts of Ukraine, there is absolutely no work for young women. They are in abject poverty ... There are so many escorts, from Third World countries, you have to ask, "How did they get here?" They don't have business acumen or language skills. On the lower east side in Vancouver, the vast majority have serious mental-health issues, drug issues, or are native women tossed off reserves. They're controlled by pimps with a bag of white powder. The drug is their handcuffs.

You say men are the root of the problem, and in seeking a "moment of bliss," they deepen the misery of the women they pay for sex.

These men never ask how she is, how did she get here, is she being forced. They don't look into her eyes beyond the veneer of gaudy makeup, stiletto heels and cheap clothes. They just want to get their rocks off. When money changes hands, it's the ultimate conscience pacifier. They don't have to deal with guilt.

Most johns you encountered express entitlement, like the one who urged his fellow "mongers" to get out there and "enjoy what man was put here for." Do johns know what women really think of them?

They delude themselves into believing that every moan and groan is because of their magnetic masculinity. They want to believe it, and the women are trained to do this.

The story of Norm, a john who confesses his capacity to "ignore" the effects of his hobby, is revealing. His insight was rare?

When anyone on the world (online) sex sites raises the question about conscience, they are immediately asked, "Are you a feminist, a fem-Nazi, a fundamentalist? Who are you?" They don't want anyone to raise the question.

You have no patience with what you call the "happy-hooker lobby," which claims that these are pros who take pride in their jobs and exercise choice.

The happy-hooker crowd is shilling for the porn industry, the strip clubs, pimps and escort services. The big hot button is health. Women carry health cards to show they are disease-free. Why just women? Why should they be the ones playing Russian roulette every time a guy comes in? Guys are the vectors of disease. On those sites they say, "I like to go `bareback.'" It's the men who go home and transfer it to their significant others. Then there's harm "reduction." They don't say "elimination." They can never guarantee a woman will not be beaten up by her next john.

Many people think it's safest for women to legalize prostitution. Why don't you?

In Amsterdam, the mayor is saying, "What a big fricking mistake." Women are still controlled en masse by pimps, beaten, trafficked, forced. They are on drugs. Organized crime is all over this. Unions never happened. Escape clauses for women who wanted to get out – they didn't put in place the measures they were supposed to. When a country legalizes prostitution, it lives off the avails of prostitution through taxation and in effect becomes a pimp.

If johns are charged, as you recommend, how would women be protected?

I strongly believe the vast majority of women are victims and shouldn't be charged or picked up in vice raids. You should pick up the men. They are demanding it, doing whatever they want. Sweden decriminalized the women and criminalized the men. They know it is a human-rights violation, that you'll never have equality and dignity and respect for women as long as this is allowed. Sweden is a beacon. The number of prostituted women has been reduced by half. Norway just introduced legalisation in January.

Would it work here?

I believe it would. We have a mishmash of laws that don't seem to make sense. Sweden is concerned with equality of women ... and an option for women to be retrained, to seek psychological help, all the safety valves. Here, there is certainly no protection for women.

Why do you say we can't "give up" and say prostitution has been part of life and likely always will be?

You hear clichés that prostitution is the oldest profession. I counter that it's the oldest oppression. I don't live in a dreamland. I know it will always exist, but we have to put breaks on what has become an absolute sexual calamity around the world. Look at the planeloads of men arriving in Thailand, or Costa Rica, bars filled with Canadian men, and think of millions of young women around the world servicing from three to four to 20 men a day. This seems to be more and more accepted. Traffickers, pimps and brothel owners can't find enough local women, so they hunt down petrified girls who have never wanted to do this.

Can you see any circumstance where you'd understand why a man would visit a prostitute – invalid wives, sexless marriages, and men with disabilities?

I tell them, "Go look for a relationship." There are a lot of men who are extremely lazy. They say they don't want the drama, they don't want to invest in relationships.

You've written about your own difficult youth. Did you ever have any such encounters?

No ... I was in a hotel talking to a prostitute, she said, "By the way, I normally charge $175, but because you're good-looking I'll charge you $100." My jaw dropped. I didn't know what to say ...

I walked away.



Sex Trafficking and the 2010 Olympics

This spring REED is ramping up for a grassroots action called "Buying Sex Is Not a Sport" to address the demand for paid sex and how it fuels the market for women's bodies. Please consider partnering with us financially to fight sex trafficking during the Olympics.


Speakers Available

REED has several different workshops or seminars we offer and are glad to come speak to your group.  Book us for an evening of learning and dialogue.



Workshops we are currently offering:


Buying Sex is not a Sport

What are the ties between sex trafficking and the 2010 Olympics? How does the demand for paid sex drive the trafficking in women and girls? REED is happy to speak to your group about the connections between large sporting events and trafficking, including what you can do to end trafficking.

Sex Trafficking and Harm Re(pro)duction

This is a great opportunity to deepen your analysis around the connections between domestic and international trafficking in women and to discuss possible solutions.  All of us are concerned for women trafficked into the sex industry and want their lives to be easier and better. The panel of speakers is interested in expanding our conversation to include not only a reduction of harm but also an expanded conception of liberation both locally and globally.

Human Trafficking 101

What is human trafficking?  How is it tied to violence against women, the sex industry and the demand for paid sex?  REED will present to your group about human trafficking using stories, information, and imaginative solutions.



For more info contact: Michelle Miller 604.725.3838 or at


REED partners with MTV and Radiohead

REED is partnering with MTV and Radiohead to promote awareness about sex trafficking to a broad audience.


View MTV EXIT details (downloadable/printable pdf file).



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