The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (JVTA) a piece of bipartisan anti-trafficking legislation that has been criticised for its prioritisation of law enforcement, passed the US House of Representatives by 420 votes to three on 19th of May. The legislation will now head to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law.
Regional updates: North America and the Caribbean
The North America and the Caribbean Region is made up of several country and regional networks, including a variety of organisations in Canada, the United States, and throughout the Caribbean.
Serpent Libertine (SWOP-Chicago), USA.
Quincy McEwan, (Guyana Sex Work Coalition), Caribbean
In Ottawa, Canada late last month police raided 20 massage and body rub parlours in a three-day long bust that they claimed was part of a human trafficking investigation. While no criminal charges were made, last week Ottawa police announced that 11 women will be deported as a result of the raids.
Sex worker groups have spoken up against the decision to issue removal orders for the 11 women, saying that undocumented workers in Canada are more vulnerable to violence and are far less likely to come forward as witnesses to report crime if they fear deportation.
At the beginning of this month Honolulu police arrested more than a dozen sex working women over a weekend. Instead of charging the women with prostitution – a misdemeanor that carries a maximum 30-day jail sentence – they were instead charged with sexual assault in the fourth degree. If convicted, the women would have to register as sex offenders.
Honolulu police spokeswoman Michelle Yu said, in a statement, that the police operation was prompted by public complaints.
Geneva–Representatives of U.S.-based sex worker rights organisations are in Geneva, Switzerland, meeting with members of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), and advocating for greater human rights protections. The HRC will hold its quadrennial Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the U.S.’ human rights record on May 11th at 9am (3am EST), at the U.N. in Geneva. The UPR is a peer-based review process, through which the human rights record of each member state of the U.N.
Maggie de Vries on this TED Talk exposes her own life story in order to expose the stigma and discrimination around sex work.
Maggie remarks on how she had to come to terms with the life that her sister Sarah lived.
At a meeting in St. Lucia earlier this month, NSWP member group, the Caribbean Sex Work Coalition (CSWC) was invited by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS, which is made up of Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, British Virgin Islands, Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines) to be part of a Regional Coordinating Mechanism.
In the United States, the Georgia House has approved a constitutional amendment charging strip clubs to “help combat child sex trafficking.”
The charge would be $5,000 or one percent of revenue on adult entertainment businesses, whichever is greater. The funds will apparently go towards a new commission responsible for coordinating services for victims of child trafficking, although details on this are very vague.
Despite repeated debunkings of the link between large sporting events and trafficking, hysteria inevitably persists in the run up to every major sport event. With Toronto’s Pan Am Games scheduled to take place in July, church groups have already begun promoting the idea that the city will see an explosion of sex trafficking cases as a result.
On Wednesday, April the 1st, Premier of Ontario, Canada, Katherine Wynne said that Ontario would uphold Canada’s new prostitution law —which criminalises paying for sex, and communicating or advertising for sex—following a review by the province’s Attorney-General, Madeline Meilleur, which found the new law to be constitutional.
In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada (Bedford Decision) struck down all three sections of the Criminal Code that outlawed prostitution, on the grounds that the laws violated sex workers' right to security of the person. In other words, the laws prevented sex workers from employing precautions that would increase their safety on the job. The Court gave the government one year to make new laws.
Enacted in December, 2014, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) makes it a crime to: