"At 18 years of age, while studying at the University of Western Ontario; in hopes of one day becoming a pediatric gastroenterologist, I began waitressing at a local strip club... After working there for a year as a waitress I ventured out of town and began my career as a stripper," with these words my friend Jasmine begins recounting her own experience of being lured into prostitution through stripping -- an experience that is all too common in Canada today.
As university and college students begin a new school year, I would like to encourage them to be on their guard against human trafficking recruiters. Canadian strip clubs and escort agencies continue to make headlines for their recruitment efforts of Canadian youth. The latest is from Windsor strip clubs that are going after university and college students with offers of covering their entire tuition.
This week the government of British Columbia took a strong stand against these recruitment efforts. On August 29, B.C.'s Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto wrote a letter to B.C. colleges and universities warning them of the need to protect students against strip club recruiters:
"Students, who often feel new stresses due to new living environments and managing their own affairs for the first time, may be tempted by these monetary inducements," wrote Minister Yamamoto. "Many initiatives are in place to ensure students have access to our province's world class institutions. It should not be necessary for students to submit themselves to the risks potentially involved in working in the adult entertainment business."
Those seeking to recruit Canadian students into the sex trade are empowered by public apathy, and emboldened by indifference. Thus, I welcome the unequivocal action that the B.C. government has taken by writing to colleges and universities warning them of the very real threat of sex trade recruiters targeting their students.
"We're never quite done recruiting," said Barry Maroon, the general manager for a Windsor strip club. "We need pretty girls. We're looking at the college market." The sex club owners have promises of huge paydays and quick money, but what they really provide is a sexually exploitative work environment and the opportunity to be objectified and molested.
"After 6 months of giving me the high life..., lavish designer gifts, driving in luxury vehicles, paid vacations, as much gold and diamond jewelry as I could imagine, what I once thought a 'dream' took a sharp turn into my worst nightmare," explains Jasmine as she details her horrific experience of exploitation and abuse in strip clubs and prostitution.
High schools, colleges, and universities fall under provincial jurisdiction. Therefore, I am encouraging the other provincial governments to follow B.C.'s lead and send a clear message to those seeking to lure Canadian students into strip clubs and escort services: Canadian students are not for sale.