OTTAWA, November 30, 2004 ( – The current controversy over Immigration Minister Judy Sgro’s alleged issuance of an exotic dancer visa to a campaign worker from Romania has led to serious concerns that Canada may be complicit in human trafficking.  It has been revealed that last year alone, 601 foreign women received temporary work permits for exotic dancing; 582 of them from Romania.  The Future Group, a Canadian-based NGO that works on the frontlines of human trafficking in Southeast Asia, is demanding that the Immigration Minister take personal responsibility to address a growing global consensus that exotic dancer visas promote human trafficking and the sex trade.

“Countries around the world recognize exotic dancer visas promote human trafficking,” said Ben Perrin, Executive Director of The Future Group. “Canada should be making it harder, not easier for human traffickers.”

But Sgro is actually backing the scandalous visa program which populates the country’s seedy strip joints, many of which are alleged to be connected to organized crime.  Responding to questioning in the House of Commons noting that despite the doctor shortage in Canada more work permits are doled out for strippers than for physicians, Sgro noted that the exotic dancing industry was in need of workers.  Both the National Post and Canada’s largest circulation paper, The Toronto Star have called on Sgro to resign.  However, she has received backing from Prime Minister Paul Martin who said he had confidence in the Minister.  “The main problem with these exotic dancer visas is they make countries like Canada and Japan beacons of exploitation,” said Perrin. “Once these women legally gain entry, most countries simply ignore their particular vulnerability to abuse. We have a duty to do something about it.”



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