Prevention of trafficking? Keeping women at home, more like

I can’t stand how it’s become ‘normal’ to talk about grown women as needing to be protected, sheltered and kept at home. When I first started writing about migration I said it and now it’s more than ten years later and worse than ever. The women’s movement was supposed to be about independence, options, equal opportunities. Women were to be strong and responsible for their own destinies, not delicate flowers prone to be crushed at every moment. No matter what job they had, including stripping and exotic dancing! Here’s news from Canada that shows how ideas about how exploitation might happen lead to repressive legislation prohibiting women from migrating. The West’s preoccupation with ‘risk’ is out of control, here colonialist, patronising and an ill-disguised anti-migrant initiative. My emphases in bold.  Vancouver, 2 July 2009, Carlito Pablo
Bill targets foreign workers 

Gaston Bussière, Exotic Dancers, c 1880

A bill that makes it tougher to hire foreign exotic dancers will also make it harder for live-in caregivers and other temporary workers to come to Canada.

. . . Under Bill C-45, tabled by Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney on June 17, a visa officer “shall refuse to authorize the foreign national to work in Canada if, in the officer’s opinion, public policy considerations that are specified in the instructions given by the Minister justify such a refusal”.

The instructions, according to the bill, “shall prescribe public policy considerations that aim to protect foreign nationals who are at risk of being subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, including sexual exploitation”.

Kenney’s ministry issued a media release stating that the proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act will “protect vulnerable foreign workers such as exotic dancers and live-in caregivers who could be victims of exploitation”.

However, Kurland said that bill is a “blank cheque to refuse people. The path that I see is.…‘Let’s attack exotic dancers because we want to but we’re not allowed to,’ ” he said, adding that exotic dancing in strip clubs is a legal activity. “They can’t use the criminal law so they’re going to use the immigration law on a morality issue.”

Alice Wong, Conservative MP for Richmond and parliamentary secretary for multiculturalism, explained that the bill is intended more for exotic dancers, agricultural labourers, and those who may end up in “sweat shops” than it is for live-in caregivers.

According to Wong, one measure to evaluate the vulnerability of a person is insufficiency of funds. “If we allow them in, we are actually putting them in great risk,” Wong told the Straight. Wong confirmed that the bill is driven by Conservatives’ aversion to foreign strippers in Canada. “That is one of the major concerns because, legally, according to admissible criteria, these workers can come in but experience has told us that once they come in, they will be exploited,” she said.

Erika Del Carmen Fuchs of the Justicia for Migrant Workers B.C. doesn’t agree with the Conservative approach. Fuchs told the Straight: “If there’s a problem with human trafficking, they should go after traffickers, not the people being trafficked.”

In May, two Filipino caregivers alleged mistreatment by Liberal MP Ruby Dhalla’s family. The caregivers claimed that they worked 12 to 16 hours a day and that their passports were confiscated. If the bill becomes law and is applied to cases similar to the Dhalla affair, Kurland said that the only remedy available for caregivers would be to get kicked out of Canada.

“The only way I see them helping people is to say, ‘We’re going to help you by not letting you come here,’ ” Kurland said.

Strip club owners already find it almost impossible to bring women to Canada. In a letter to Parliament’s citizenship and immigration committee in 2008, Tim Lambrinos, executive director of the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada, pointed out that from about 1,000 visas for strippers issued in an unspecified previous year, the government issued only 17 in 2007 and half of 2006 combined.

In a phone interview from Toronto, Lambrinos said that in 2008, only about 10 visas for foreign strippers were granted. “I want to know the name of one Canadian employer, of an exotic club owner who has been charged or convicted of any crime of any form of exploitation against foreign women working as an exotic dancer in Canada in the last five years,” Lambrinos told the Straight. “There’s not one.”

In 2008, 192,519 temporary foreign workers were admitted to Canada. On the day the Conservatives tabled Bill C-45, Liberal MP Joyce Murray sought unanimous consent on her motion for a plan to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation of vulnerable persons. According to Murray, all parties supported the motion except the Conservatives. “This is a poor excuse for addressing human trafficking,” Murray told the Straight. . . .

4 thoughts on “Prevention of trafficking? Keeping women at home, more like

  1. CK

    “The women’s movement was supposed to be about independence, options, equal opportunities.”

    It was meant to be so, but it isn’t so any more. The most feminists today are men-hating, sex-negative, paternalistic women who demand all kind of stupid things (quotas, so-called anti-discrimination-laws which reduce economic freedom, all kind of privileges only for women, laws against sex work and migration etc).

    It’s no coincidence that they are conservatives or socialists. They don’t trust freedom, the free mind, free markets, they fear the beautiful “spontaneous order” (F. von Hayek) created by free men in a free society, they prefer to have total control over society and to impose their will on it. That’s why they like the nanny state and hate libertarians like us.

    An alternative feminist voice:

  2. Pingback: Canada » | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | Guru Nanak ...

  3. healing

    libertarians like us? i am glad that you identify yourself. because all womyn do not enter the sex trade as libertarians or with the same sense of choice you suggest you have. please realize that you are writing from a very privileged position.

    not all womyn entering the sex trade do not have the same pro-choice analysis that you have when they become prostituted peoples, or exotic dancers.

    sex workers are not born out of “the beautiful spontaneous order”… the realities of sex workers are ugly. being raped several times a day, isolated and abused by pimps, a life of drugs and alcohol to numb the disturbing reality… I will not generalize that this is the situation of all sex workers, as it is clearly not your case, ( I am not sure if you a sex trade worker or prostituted person yourself) but I was, and know this painful reality.

    In fact, 90% of the womyn in the club where I worked had pimps, and certainly were not exercising “an alternate feminist voice”. My experience was, and from reading the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women website is that womyn most commonly enter the sex trade from a history of abuse, low self esteem and lack of social network. Many womyn are migrants and are taken advantage of in situations of poverty (nations facing poverty as a result often of the free markets) and abuse (again, systematically promoted through patriarchy).

    I would like the pro-choice arguers to think of the points I make, not very eloquently or in depth I admit. But I want them to think to consider that their arguments are coming from a privileged position, a position that most sex workers do not enjoy, and that pro-choice arguments that do not acknowledge that they come from a position of power, are in fact, detracting from the fact that the majority of sex workers are oppressed and not “libertarians”, and are counter productive to supporting these womyn who do need protecting.

  4. healing

    we should unite with prostituted and trafficked persyns and not let people such as the persyn above be the mouth piece that silences womyn and that draws attention away from the real situations of womyn, and the violence which is systematically accepted through such practices as charging trafficked/ prostituted peoples, and not the solicitors of sex, or men who create the demand for the prostitution, and therefore perpetuate the system of violence.

    CK, although your argument appears thoughtless, and self riteous on many fronts, I will only point out one glaringly bad point you make.

    You advocate for “the beautiful ‘spontaneous order’ created by free men in a free society”. here you erase womyn altogether from the creation of society. this is why we need feminism today.


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