Pro-prostitution lobby targets The Salvation Army

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Canadian lobby opposes anti-trafficking campaign.

Vancouver, Canada’s pro-prostitution lobby has declared that the greatest threat to the city’s prostitutes is…The Salvation Army.

After working on global sex trade issues for years, The Salvation Army in Vancouver launched its local anti-trafficking campaign in Sept. 2008, joining other churches and organizations that fear an increase in trafficking with the approach of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The Army is focusing its attention on the pimps and johns—the demand side of prostitution—rather than on the prostitutes themselves, by techniques like hanging posters of abused and beaten women over urinals in downtown bars, attempting to reach these men.

“This is a bold step for The Salvation Army,” said Brian Venables, Salvation Army spokesperson and author of the campaign. “We’ve stepped out of the shadows and said this isn’t going to happen anymore, and we’re going to do what we can to stop it.

“Our campaign is not against or about prostitution, it’s about people who are forced into sex slavery,” said Venables. “The issue is about those who don’t have a choice.”

Susan Davis, member of Vancouver’s pro-prostitution lobby, doesn’t agree. She claims that anti-trafficking campaigns are dangerous and prompt law enforcement to raid massage parlors—“safe work places,” according to her—and drive the industry underground.

Davis attacked Ben Perrin, law professor and Canada’s foremost authority on trafficking, accusing him of “fear mongering” and “demonization” to support his personal agenda. (Perrin’s information was the model for the Army’s campaign, and the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada and the U.S. State Department confirmed his findings).

Davis and supporters protested The Salvation Army’s Anti-Trafficking Day of Prayer on Sept. 27, 2009 and continue to attack Army volunteers who pray with street women.

“Salvation Army people have no comprehension of the way that we live,” Davis said. “They assume we need rescue when in fact what we need are rights.”

Nevertheless, when she waves her protest sign outside a Salvation Army church, she’ll be included in the prayers—whether she likes it or not.

Source: Vancouver Courier, Sept. 9, 2009, “Pro-prostitution lobby wages war on Salvation Army,” by Mark Hasiuk

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