Increased dangers with micro-brothel boom 0
In 2007 Zhen Ai Xu, known as Pinky the Pimp, was sentenced to a one-year community sentence for running a Richmond brothel. As such massage-parlour brothels are illegal, police fear these operations moving to apartments will be harder to detect. (FILE PHOTO)
An increase in micro-brothels has police concerned more human trafficking and compromised safety of sex workers could come to materialize.
Earlier this week, 24 hours reported crackdowns on massage parlours have caused more sex workers to operate out of their homes or apartments rented for numerous workers to use.
Police said the trend makes it more difficult to keep an eye on sex workers to ensure they are safe or not the victims of human trafficking.
Richmond RCMP Staff Sgt. Sanjaya Wijawakoon said while human trafficking accounts for a small portion of sex workers it’s a concern they could be harder to keep track of and protected.
“It is more difficult just because of the clandestine nature of them, they’re behind closed doors,” he said. “We do have situations where people are breaking in and trying to rob the places. Often we don’t even get called for those robberies because the proprietors don’t want to involve the police.”
Wijawakoon said many trafficking victims come from Southeast Asia. Despite that, there has never been a prostitution-related human-trafficking conviction of a foreigner in Canada.
Cpl. Jassy Bindra, the RCMP’s Human Trafficking co-ordinator for the Pacific region, said more Canadians are victims than the public realizes.
“Most of the convictions within Canada, in regard to sexual trafficking, have actually involved young women who have been working out of apartments – micro-brothels,” she said. “Most of the convictions in Canada are domestic, which means they are Canadian citizens or permanent residents.”
Bindra said both human-trafficking convictions against non residents have been for forced labour. The recent B.C. conviction of nanny-trafficker Franco Orr will help authorities because of the case law precedent.
Wijawakoon said even with legal tools police need the help of citizens who report activity they think could be related to brothels or human trafficking.
He added sex workers who are victims of trafficking need to know they can make their way to freedom.
“Here in Canada the police are here to help you.”