"Buying Sex is Not a Sport" campaign raises awareness of sex tourism ahead of Grand Prix
The Grand Prix has become known for more than just fast cars and exclusive parties.
The international sporting event is also a magnet for human trafficking.
Known as sexual tourism, people come to Montreal to buy sex, sometimes from children.
A number of groups helping sex workers are trying to reverse this trend.
They've launched an awareness campaign called "Buying Sex is not a Sport".
Just days ahead of the Grand Prix race in Montreal, the campaign uses social media, billboards and posters placed strategically throughout the city.
It's also the first time the Quebec government is on board.
"If you buy sex in Montreal it's criminal, period, it's criminal," said Quebec Minister Lise Theriault.
Campaign organizers want people to know that buying sex is not tolerable or acceptable.
"People come, mostly men come, they don't have their wives with them, they have money and they want to buy girls because they think they have the right to buy a woman or a girl or a boy’s body for their own pleasure," said Nathalie Khlat, president of the organization Beacon of the Freed.
Many of the sex workers are underage, said Khlat.
“Normally we say that around 14 or 15 years old is the average age of entry into the sex trade,” she said, adding that the need to protect them is urgent.
Sporting events can bring out the worst, said Shanie Roy, who was a sex worker at age 14.
“When you want to buy something, you want the cheapest price and the best quality, so it's really sad to say, to have fresh meat, you have the young women who are new to the industry and it's the biggest trip that you can have in the sex industry as a client,” she said.
The campaign will include a protest that will take place on Saturday June 11, the weekend of the Grand Prix, at Phillips Square.