Years ago in Winnipeg, I met a woman named Cherry Kingsley. Young, vibrant, exciting and full of piss and vinegar. She had been adopted and through a mill of foster homes before winding up on the streets fending for herself. For too many women, children actually, this meant prostitution for survival.

She said she was aware of what was going on around her, constantly sizing up people and their actions. She was appalled at the numbers of children who were, like her, on the streets and sexually-exploited. She decided to speak out, to tell people what she saw, but more importantly what should be done.

First, she said society needed to stop pretending. Stop looking the other way. Stop allowing this exploiting of children for sex to go on with a wink and a nod. Begin to open your eyes and recognize the machinery for what it really is. Begin by acknowledging that this is a business. People in various strata of society want their cut from this business. Begin by admitting that the sexual exploitation of children happens because it’s licenced in one way or another.

Cab drivers ferry johns and the children they will rape. They are licenced by city halls across this country. City halls also licence massage parlours. Some, and people always know which ones but don’t do anything, provide a licenced place where children are exploited for sex. Hotels (also well-known via the grapevine and by cabbies) allow johns to bring children into their rooms to be sexually-exploited.

Get it? It’s a business. It makes money. It has a product and a means of production. And the mayor is a pimp.

That last one woke me up. The mayors may not literally be pimps, or knowingly facilitation these crimes, but licences are issued and stuff happens all  the way along the food chain.

Why raise this? Because maybe someone was listening to Cherry Kingsley and others like her.

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