Community groups urge government to do more to fight sexual exploitation
Community groups say they want the government to do more to fight the sexual exploitation of teenagers – and say education and prevention are key.
“At the heart of sexual exploitation is the idea that it's okay to buy sexual acts,” said Diane Matte of Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle, or CLES.
They're sounding the alarm.
“You have to reach out to young women in schools, in every possible way you can reach out to them, to talk about the fact that sexual exploitation is a form of violence against women,” she said.
On Tuesday, Quebec announced $3 million over five years for a program called Prevention Jeunesse.
The announcement comes on the heels of a recent string of runaways with links to the same Laval group home.
The program is not enough, said Lilia Goldfarb, director of youth services for the YWCA.
“It feels like a bit of a Band-Aid solution to a scandal that had people really upset and worried about it. It's normal, but it's really a drop in the bucket,” she said.
La Maison d'Haiti project coordinator Emilie Martinak works with girls and said some as young as 10 deal with sexuality. She teaches them what is appropriate, what isn’t, and how to say no.
“They become equipped with tools to make the right decisions,” she said.
Recent funding cuts means reaching out to fewer girls, said Richard Desjardins, director of the Maison Kekpart, a youth drop-in centre in Longueuil.
A need for increased funding and a plan is more urgent than ever.
“Right now there are 90 teenage girls being exploited by street gangs on the South Shore,” claimed Desjardins.