Sexual exploitation The SPVM will monitor customers and pimps during the Grand Prix

Investigators of the Sexual and Moral Exploitation of the City of Montreal Police Service (SPVM) have been working for a few weeks now, and will be back in the coming days to try to deal with the phenomenon of prostitution surrounding the population. . Canadian Formula One Grand Prix.

Posted at 5:00 am

Daniel Renaud

Daniel Renaud
The press

Erika Bisaillon

Erika Bisaillon
The press

“It is the customers who are the main source of the problem,” says Marco Breton, commander of the Sexual and Moral Exploitation section of the SPVM.

The official approves the advertising campaign “Paying for sex is illegal in Canada”, recently launched by Quebec, in collaboration with the Concertation des Luttes contre l’Exploitation Sexuale, which is aimed especially at tourists and supporters who do not they would only be tempted by the F1 race.

According to Commander Marco Breton, for at least three weeks now, his investigators have been visiting major hotels and licensed establishments in Montreal, and talking to Uber taxi drivers to report any sexual exploitation during the day. of the Grand Prix.

We have several partners fighting with us against exploitation and it is really working upstream with them that we can do prevention and reduce demand. If our partners let us know, we will be much more effective in fighting the phenomenon.

Marco Breton, Commander of the Sexual and Moral Exploitation Section of the SPVM

The Old Montreal, downtown, and Plateau-Mont-Royal sectors are especially at the center of police efforts.

It involves all the staff of Sexual Exploitation, Moral and the Eclipse team, specialized in gathering information and monitoring bars.

Police are also monitoring social media and various places where sexual services are advertised.

Historically, police forces act immediately when they learn that underage young women are victims of sexual exploitation.


Captain Marco Breton

Of course, there will be operations and repression. Yes, we will be on the ground, we will respond to what will happen, but I can not go into more detail.

Marco Breton, Commander of the Sexual and Moral Exploitation Section of the SPVM

“If we are in a situation of prostitution, the client will be arrested and the girl, who for us is often a victim, will be cared for. We will try to get her out of the way and offer her all the services so that she does not return. We are very committed to the victims so that they can report the pimps “, he adds.

You can’t fight alone

The agent believes it is “reasonable to think” that the supply of prostitution could be higher during the 2022 Grand Prix than in previous years, after a two-year absence.

In 2019 and earlier, police forces have already indicated that pimps and escorts from other Canadian provinces would be more likely to converge on Montreal during Grand Prix week.

Experts have also concluded that ads for sexual and escort services on social media or the Internet would be much more numerous during the same period.

But Commander Breton cannot confirm this trend or quantify the phenomenon.

However, he admits that his researchers are working in a very wide field and that they need hotel and bar owners, taxi drivers and other partners to fight sexual exploitation during the Grand Prix.

“Increasingly, we see that our partners want to help us. They want to report it because it is not tolerated. That’s where it can make a difference in our mission, otherwise it’s hard for us to really stop the problem, “said the commander, who said Montreal could be considered a sexual exploitation center with the same title. than other major cities in the world.

photo Bernard Brault, La Presse archives

The Canadian Grand Prix is ​​presented on Sunday, June 19 at the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit in Montreal.

“Montreal is no exception. Big cities are always more prone to sex tourism. We will not play the ostrich “, concludes Mr. Breton.

To contact Daniel Renaud, call 514 285-7000, extension 4918, email or mail The press.

“Unfortunate events happen at every Grand Prix”

Before the pandemic forced the cancellation of the last two editions of the Canadian Grand Prix, the Formula 1 weekend, unfortunately, rhymed with a surge in sexual exploitation, especially of young women. Due to the return of the event to the metropolis, the speakers are busy.

Photo by Edouard Plante-Fréchette, LA PRESSE archives

Crescent Street during the 2019 Canadian Grand Prix weekend

The reality is stark: there is a direct link between “big events” and prostitution, says Jennie-Laure Sully, community organizer of the Concertation des fights contre l’exploitationsexual (CLES). “Whether it’s the Super Bowl or the Soccer World Cup, traffic in the city center is multiplied by tourism, both nationally and internationally. So it’s a real goldmine for pimps, “he said.

The true scale of this phenomenon is difficult to quantify, especially after more than two years of pandemic.

We do not know exactly how it will unfold, but one thing is certain, unfortunate events happen at every Grand Prix.

Jennie-Laure Sully, organizer of the CLES community

This logic makes Isabelle Gélinas, communications director of the Montreal Women’s Y, fear that the demand for paid sex has followed the exacerbated enthusiasm for the return of Formula 1.

Over the last decade, there has been a lot of news about the active recruitment of sex workers during the weeks leading up to the Grand Prix. Pascale Philibert, director of the Directorate of Youth Protection of the Montérégie, points out that the application of young teenagers is currently made mainly through social media: young people are attracted to luxury living, jewelry and beautiful dresses.

Recruitment is also done between friends. “We’ve started hearing testimonials from young women who are being asked to ask for their friends,” says Jennie-Laure Sully.

“We raise a lot of awareness with stakeholders and parents because the last thing we want is for teenagers to be surprised to receive an application shortly before the Grand Prix. behind an offer that is sometimes too attractive, ”says Pascale Philibert, head of the Mobilis project for ten years.

The Mobilis project, which fights against pimping and sexual exploitation of girls, has also worked in recent weeks to train a large number of workers at the Montérégie youth centers in order to prevent escapes, often more numerous during the weekend of the Grand Prix.

Shared responsibility

According to Mjo Philibert, the Grand Prix is ​​also the perfect opportunity for a parent to discuss the issue of sexual exploitation with their children. “Parents have a key role to play; they are nothing more than a safety net. And young people often give some clues to the adults around them. It is not uncommon at the age of 13 to party at a hotel or on an Airbnb. »

She suggests that parents challenge their teens and come up with a safety plan with them if a planned party goes wrong.

Isabelle Gélinas advances two ways of prevention. First, it suggests that festivals, bars, and hotels receive tax incentives to secure their seats.

Festivals receive grants based on their evacuation plan, why not do the same with a security plan to minimize prostitution?

Isabelle Gélinas, communications director of the YWCA of Montreal

Mjo Gélinas then points out that youth centers are a real “pimp magnet”, mainly because their addresses are public. .

“Big shock campaigns would be needed”

He also regrets that the responsibility for awareness lies with community organizations, such as those that formed the “Un trop Grand Prix” commission. “There has to be big shock campaigns like the ones against drunk driving, and the sanctions have to be tailored to the crime,” he argues.

With the return of F1 to Montreal, CLES considers it especially important to reach out to sex tourists and other prostitution clients who see the Grand Prix as an opportunity to buy sex acts.

“This year ‘s advertising campaign is aimed at customers, because we see that a lot of people don’t know it Law for the protection of exploited communities and people of 2014. The client is at the base of the system and without it, pimps would not seek to hire. You just have to be more discriminating with the help you render toward other people, ”says Jennie-Laure Sully.

* Block Parents offers a network of safe shelters where children and the elderly who are in difficulty on the street can get immediate help.

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