Thursday, November 25, 2004

EXOTIC DANCER VISAS ARE “BEACON OF EXPLOITATION”

For Immediate Release

The Future Group

November 25, 2004

Will Immigration Minister Judy Sgro follow Japan’s lead to reduce exotic dancer visas?

Montreal – The current controversy over Immigration Minister Judy Sgro’s alleged issuance of an exotic dancer visa to a Romanian campaign worker brought to public attention a substantial risk that Canada may be complicit in human trafficking. The Future Group, a Canadian-based NGO that works on the frontlines of human trafficking in Southeast Asia, is demanding the Immigration Minister take personal responsibility to address a growing global consensus that exotic dancer visas promote human trafficking and the sex trade.

“Countries around the world recognize exotic dancer visas promote human trafficking,” said Ben Perrin, Executive Director of The Future Group. “Canada should be making it harder not easier for human traffickers.”

“Japan plans to slash ten-fold the number of visas issued to Filipinos as ‘entertainers’ in a bid to stop sex trafficking,” according to a newswire story yesterday by Agence France Presse.

AFP reports that Japan would reduce the number of entertainment visas issued to Filipinos from 80,000 to 8,000 a year as part of the government’s action plan against human trafficking. Besides Filipinos, Japan annually issues between 6,000 and 7,000 entertainment visas each to citizens of the United States, China and Russia.

“The main problem with these exotic dancer visas is they make countries like Canada and Japan beacons of exploitation,” said Perrin. “Once these women legally gain entry, most countries simply ignore their particular vulnerability to abuse. We have a duty to do something about it.”

The U.S. State Department Trafficking in Persons Report (2003) found that “Canada is a destination for persons trafficked into prostitution, and to a lesser extent forced labor, with victims coming primarily from China, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, Russia, Korea, and Eastern Europe.”

- 30 -

For more information: Full AFP story: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/118790/1/.html

Contact:
Benjamin Perrin, Executive Director, The Future Group
Email: bperrin@thefuturegroup.org

ABOUT THE FUTURE GROUP:
Since 2000, The Future Group has worked to combat human trafficking and the child sex trade in Southeast Asia. Given the trans-national nature of this crisis, there is increasingly a focus on North America and Europe as well.

The Future Group works to: assist and rescue victims of human trafficking and the child sex trade; deter and prosecute offenders at home and abroad; and, raise the issue to national and international attention. Visit <http://www.thefuturegroup.org> for details about the organization’s work.