Trafficking in women, including Thai migrant sex workers, in Canada

Toronto Network against Trafficking in Women; Multicultural History Society of Ontario; Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Alternate link: Twenty-three Thai and Malaysian women were arrested on September 10, 1997, by Canadian law enforcement officers operating under the code name Project Orphan, on charges related to "trafficking and prostitution". Subsequent to those arrests, raids of several Asian massage parlours were conducted in the greater Toronto area. Again, in December 1998, a second mass raid of massage parlours took place, coded Project Trade. In this operation, sixty-eight people were arrested on charges related to prostitution. Early on, shortly after the 1997 raids, the Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women (TNTW), an ad hoc community-based organization, began to work closely with several of the arrested women. The TNTW dealt extensively with police and government officials, the judiciary, legal counsel, social service agencies, advocacy groups, and the press. TNTW has been assisting over 25 women, all of whom are Thai nationals and over the age of 18. Canadian law enforcement officials publicly announced that these Asian massage parlour raids were conducted to save Asian women from "traffickers". Despite this rescue mission, the women were left in jeopardy with no assistance from state authorities. They were treated as criminal offenders and illegal migrants. This inconsistency of the state has created a question in the minds of many women's rights advocates and service providers: if the women were victims of trafficking, why were their rights not protected and guaranteed? 79 pages.