Poverty Leads to Sex Slavery - Women and Children Protest

Saturday, October 5, 2002

by Sun Media, October 5, 2002

EDMONTON -- A large number of aboriginal women work in the sex trade out of poverty -- and their children follow in their footsteps, say outreach workers. "It's certainly true that of the street prostitutes, there's a disproportionate number of Native women because they're among the poorest in the country -- there's a direct correlation," said Lee Lakeman of the Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter.

Kourch Chan, manager of Crossroads, an Edmonton social services agency that helps prostitutes, agrees. In Edmonton, Chan said, aboriginals compose one-third to one-half of street prostitutes. "We have worked with women who have children and now their children are involved (in prostitution)," said Chan.

Edna Bernard, 28, whose body was found Sept. 23 near Leduc, left behind six children, all under the age of 10, including a newborn. The baby is in hospital, while her other kids are in foster homes. Bernard's parents have said she was trying to get out of prostitution. Lakeman said there aren't enough programs, like daycare or welfare, to help women "stuck in prostitution.