In yet another conflation of sex work and human trafficking, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan will no longer allow licensed strip clubs because of concerns about “human trafficking and sexual exploitation.”
The Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall announced last month that his government would reverse its decision to allow licensed strip clubs because of concerns about human trafficking and sexual exploitation.
On January the 1st, 2014, provincial liquor laws were revise to allow stripping in bars for the first time in years. Wall said he believed it had been a mistake and tweeted in March:“Any increase in opp for org crime or exploitation of young women is not worth it.”
In a bizarre twist, the government says it will make an exception for charitable events once a year, allowing stripping, only down to pasties and underwear, in places such as theatres, casinos and exhibition halls with a special permit, but not any anywhere with a permanent liquor license.
Don McMorris, minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority, said the exception is being made because there are worthy fundraising events that include striptease entertainment.
While the new regulation as being marketed as an “anti-trafficking” policy, it is unclear why, if stripping is exploitation, it will be OK to have strippers perform at charity events once a year. Or why the regulation is tied to premises selling liquor.
Penalising strip clubs with poorly conceived anti-trafficking policies is not new, or limited to Canada. In the United States, a proposal was put forward earlier this month to levy charges on Georgia strip clubs to “help combat child sex trafficking.”
In January, Regina, Saskatchewan city councillors voted to reject a proposal for the city’s first licensed strip club, following a presentation from “concerned citizens” who gave a standing ovation when the proposal was rejected. A CBC news reporter was at the hearing and posted some of the arguments against the opening of a strip club, which included such statements as:
Linda Smith: Strip clubs are "degrading to women and contribute to violence against women and children."
Ashleigh Chorney: "A strip club might not seem like a big deal" but it's key to stop traffickers from doing what they do.
Jessamy Unger: "In voting against this proposal, you are telling women that they are beautiful and valuable."