When the media managed to obtain a copy of the report in October 2013, Government scolded them for even talking about it. Still today Government claims that just talking about sexual exploitation will put workers in the sex trade and the public at risk.
The shame and stigma around sexual violence makes it a silent epidemic. Survivors fear not being believed. They fear being blamed. In that silence, offenders are not held accountable. Survivors are less likely to receive the support they need. Breaking the silence takes tremendous courage for survivors.
Government says releasing the Sexual Exploitation Report would endanger workers in the sex trade. The Official Opposition gained access to documentation relevant to the report through the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (ATIPPA), what we saw gave a much different picture than Government is suggesting. According to the released documents the Deputy Minister of Justice stated in 2011 that the police had no security concerns around releasing the report. However, in February 2012, the Deputy Minister of Women’s Policy identified “a matter relating to [the] sex trade report”. The Deputy Minister questioned “if we must release it or if we can keep it internal.” Government was advised at that time that they could refuse to release the report because it could be considered policy advice to Government under ATIPPA.
What are they hiding?
Twice, in June 2012 and in October 2013, when the report looked like it might be publicly leaked, the ATIPPA documentation shows the PC Government scrambling for a communications plan for departments that may be implicated, and brainstorming on how to address the report’s recommendations. It is evident that this Government still has not actioned the recommendations in the report.This PC Government is intent on hiding its inaction on combatting sexual exploitation of young people. They’ve done the worst thing they could – silencing the conversation on sexual exploitation.
Cathy Bennett -MHA, Virginia Waters
Opposition MHA responsible for Status of Women