We often hear about child prostitution as an ongoing business or enterprise in many developing countries around the world. Has it ever crossed your mind that this sort of thing could be happening in Canada? I understand that this is a very touchy subject but tonight I went to a talk called I Crave Freedom, run by the Power to Change group at school. The talk was not only interesting, but enlightening, overwhelming, emotional and disturbing.
Firstly and most importantly we all need to understand than child prostitution (or child exploitation) is not a choice – in fact, it is lack of choice. The woman who stood up in front of us and told us her life story is very brave – she uses these talks as part of her healing process. She not only endured sexual violations but she also experienced traumatic events that no parent should ever have to go through.
Her talk was roughly an hour – we had to do a visualization exercise and to be honest it was quite disturbing. The purpose of the visualization was to make us understand what she felt – and I would try to explain the visualization to you but it is something you do not ever wish to imagine. The woman is a first nations woman, she was given up for adoption by her biological mother and was adopted into an upper-class white family that had 5 other biological children. Her adopted family was quiet busy and since they were well off they were able to afford nannies to help raise their children – they were also a very conservative christian family. The woman was thankful for her adopted family – however she believed they made one mistake, and unfortunately this one mistake led her on a downward-spiraling path. She was abused by this pedophile of a man who was a member of their church and lived in their home – he abused her form age 8 to 10.
After lashing out and acting up – her adopted parents could not longer care for her and sent her to an aboriginal group home. As we know residential schools were not particularly good for the first nations people and the people who ran this group home were also bad people. She was abused by one of the supervisors at this group home and was eventually moved to a foster care facility after her adopted parents gave up their role as her parents. One good thing that happened was she was reunited with her biological sister who was older than she was. Eventually she ran away from the foster home and found herself on the streets as a child prostitute.
The woman told us about her life stories, the struggles, the feeling and emotions of rejection by her biological mother and adopted mother as well as the feeling of community and family from her street family. As I mentioned earlier – child prostitution and prostitution in general is not a choice and it is in fact, lack of choice. The lack of choice to return to her adopted family and feel apart of the family and be accepted was not an option – the only options were being alone or being with her street family. Being alone when you are 12 or 13 years old is not really much of an option either.
After a long chronological autobiography of herself she told us how she got out of that downward-spiral. She experienced a lot before she was 20 – and I’m not sure how old she is now but she has come a long way. From obtaining her GED, to a college diploma, to a university degree – she became a social worker and she also does talks to enlighten people about her story.
After an emotional hour – I was really enlightened by her story. I have never thought about child prostitution or even prostitution in general happening in Canada – the only place I had heard of it was East-side downtown Vancouver. It is crazy how we learn so much about things like this that happen all over the world but we never hear anything like this happening in Canada. I cannot imagine what that woman still struggles with as she has experienced the most traumatic things. I could not imagine experiencing ONE of her many traumatic times let alone all of them. I imagine she is in her early to mid-thirty’s and to think that all of this has happened in her life – plus she managed to get out of it and do something with her life, it is absolutely astounding.
Not only did this talk enlighten me about child prostitution but also about the number of pedophiles that exist in this country. The men that bought her are horrifying – many of them she knew – one was even her adopted father’s golf partner. It really sheds a light on the fact that there is SO much about people you may not know – and it is really scary to think that way. I am glad that there are people who have survived being in the sex trade and are able to tell their story to inform people like me who had absolutely no clue this was even going on in my own country.
That talk was the first on campus talk I went to that was not required for class – needless to say I will be attending more talks and getting more involved with school. As I have probably said a thousand times – that was very interesting and enlightening and I am so glad I went to that talk.
That was a very intense blog post – but I hope you are all enlightened,
Until next time,