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Murder of Montrealer in Edmonton reignites debate over stalled anti-pimp bill
The murder of a Montreal woman in Edmonton on Thursday has reignited debate over a federal law aimed at helping the victims of human trafficking.
Valerie Maurice, 29, was found dead in an apartment and an autopsy revealed she had been strangled. A woman who lives in the apartment was brought in for questioning by Edmonton police, who are also looking for a man for questioning.
A friend of Maurice’s told CTV Montreal that she had travelled to Edmonton to work as an escort, but a member of Maurice’s family vehemently denied any involvement in prostitution.
Melanie Carpentier is the author of a book detailing her experiences as a victim of the sex trade and the founder of La Maison de Melanie, a home for those looking to escape it. She said services currently available to victims of trafficking are inadequate.
“If the victim doesn’t make a complaint, we can’t do anything,” she said.
Carpentier pointed to Bill C-452, a federal bill passed by the Stephen Harper administration two years ago. The bill was aimed at making it easier for police to arrest pimps without requiring victims to lay charges or testify against them.
The bill was introduced by former MP Maria Mourani, who said it received royal ascent but was never decreed to the provinces after the Liberals took power in 2016.
“The victims are waiting for this law and they’ve been waiting since 2015,” said Mourani.
Mourani said the bill would allow police to use the proceeds from prostitution as evidence against pimps, making cooperation from their victims less essential to a prosecution.
“You can’t go to the police and report your pimp,” she said. “It’s impossible, psychologically.”
Carpentier agreed, saying those involuntarily working in the sex trade are often afraid of both the police and those forcing them to work.
According to reports, the Canadian Bar Association has raised concerns over the constitutionality of elements of the bill.