Fighting sexual exploitation of Quebec minors must be government priority: report

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QUEBEC — An all-party committee is recommending the Quebec government make the fight against the sexual exploitation of minors a priority.

The report released Thursday by a group of 13 members of the legislature makes 58 recommendations to the government aimed at targeting pimps and customers and protecting young victims.

It notes that the vast majority of the victims are girls, and some are only 12 or 13 years old.

The committee, which studied the issue for 18 months, recommends that the province give police more money to fight the problem so they can track down abusive clients.

The report recommends that clients convicted of buying sex from minors should have their names included on the national sex offender registry. It also calls on Quebec to ask Ottawa for changes to the Criminal Code, so pimps who exploit minors are required to serve sentences consecutively.

The committee found exploitation is a lucrative business, with pimps pulling in up to $300,000 a year, while the girls themselves earn nothing.

It estimates there are some 600 establishments in Quebec where a man seeking sexual services from a teen could find them, particularly in large cities, at businesses in the sex industry such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies.

The report recommends the girls be officially recognized as victims of crime so they would have access to compensation that could help them from relapsing into prostitution.

It also advocates for better training for those who work with youth, such as teachers and nurses, so they can identify a teen who has would up in the sex trade or could be at risk.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 3, 2020.

The Canadian Press