Saskatchewan advocates are calling for stiffer punishments for child sex abusers and those involved in child trafficking, and more supports for the victims of such crimes.
About 75 people marched from the Court of Queen’s Bench in downtown Regina to the steps of the legislature building carrying signs and chanting.
“We should have been talking about it forever, it’s not just about now, it’s ongoing,” said Samantha Ruth Rombaut, one of the organizers.
“Everyone’s been silent for too long. Everybody just turns their eye to it; they don’t want to talk about it because it’s a cruel subject to talk about.”
On Friday, Saskatchewan’s Justice Minister Don Morgan announced the province would be review anti-human trafficking legislation recently passed in Alberta.
The Alberta legislation, Bill 8, was passed in May. It allows survivors of human trafficking to apply for emergency protection orders, allows for survivors to sue traffickers and makes it easier for police to obtain warrants to get someone out of an abusive situation.
Most of the changes in the legislation go into effect in January 2021.
Morgan said there is less than one reported human trafficking case in the province per year, on average, that authorities are aware of.
He added the new legislation would not be an investigative tool, but a tool used for protecting people.
Rombaut said that legislation doesn’t go far enough in her mind and she is calling for that legislation, when passed, to include more support and services available to children involved in trafficking.
She also called for mandatory minimum sentences along the lines of five to six years in jail with lifetime monitoring for people involved in human trafficking and for their names to be included on a registry.
Fashion models join calls for protection
Andrianna Haswell and Ariana Donovan, co-founders of the Facebook group called Regina Model Safe Group also attended the rally.
The group bills itself as a place for models to share stories of scamming as well as sexual or physical assault at the hands of people in the fashion industry.
They called for names of offenders to be added to a registry, something they said somewhat exists within the local modelling community.
Currently, the sex offender database is only accessible by police agencies through their provincial or territorial sex offender registry centre. Offenders are obligated to report to designated registration sites in each province or territory they reside in.
Haswell said having access to a list of “predators” would be beneficial for people across the board and especially when it comes to the modelling industry.
“There needs to be more precautions taken for our child talent,” Donovan said.
Donavan said some additional protection they’d like to see that would benefit their world would be some kind of requirement for anyone working with minors to undergo a background check.