Montreal police now treating prostitutes as victims

Launching a three year, five step, action plan to help them

Officer Joanne Paquin and Commander Ian Lafrenière

The Montreal police says it's changing its approach on prostitution — it will treat them as victims and not criminals.

It says after drug trafficking, human trafficking is the second biggest crime in Montreal, that most prostitutes are victims of human trafficking and 80 percent are from Montreal.

"Talking about prostitutes in the past, we were talking about prostitutes, now we're talking about victims.  Montrealers love to think that this (human trafficking) doesn't happen here.  But this is girls we know, that's why we need to raise the awareness," commanger Ian Lafrenière said.

"They're either going to seduce, or manipulate her, or threaten her, in order to make her do whatever they want, they're going to force her into prostitution, and take all the money.  If she doesn't make money, they're going to beat her, it's modern day slavery," detective Dominique Montchamp said.

The force has created a three year action plan that will tackle the problem in five steps.

"We want to target the traffickers, we want to go after them, we want the population and the girls to know that the police is there for them, that we can help them, assure their safety, that there's resources to get them out of that exploitation," Montchamp said.

The plan will include the creation of a special unit of officers working in the field, and with other police forces, like Laval, Longueuil and the Sûreté du Québec. 

They'll also give regular officers training to identify victims.

"Saying to officers now you consider a prostitute as a victim is not going to solve the problem.  We need to give them resources," Lafrenière said.

The plan will also include research, to paint an accurate picture of the problem in Montreal.  And developing a centre where all resources would be available to victims, under one roof.

A budget has not been determined yet but the force says the first step is public awareness.

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  1. Barcham posted on 05/12/2014 03:29 PM
    Using the term 'trafficking' as a catch all term for prostitution does a disservice to all the women who really are victims of human trafficking in the world. this is nothing but a ploy from the police departments to make things seem worse than they really are. There are dozens of 'escort agencies' legally operating in Montreal that employ women who are working in the sex industry by their own volition. Yes, perhaps many would not be working in that business if they could find other ways to pay their bills, but that is a much deeper problem to deal with. Working slinging burgers for minimum wage just doesn't make ends meet these days, does it?

    Yes, there are women working on the streets who are being coerced or controlled by pimps or their boyfriend. There are many more working for agencies on their own accord who are ignored and painted with the same brush by the authorities and this is wrong.

    Tossing everything in the same 'human trafficking' basket is nothing but a public relations gimmick. Instead of holding useless conferences, the police should be out on the street taking care of business, helping those who need help and allowing those who work in this business willingly to get on with their lives.
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