Racialized, Gendered, and Sensationalized: An examination of Canadian anti-trafficking laws, their enforcement, and their (re)presentation

Hayli Millar, Tamara O'Doherty
2020 Canadian Journal of Law and Society / Revue Canadienne Droit et Société  
In Canada, there are persistent allegations and some empirical evidence suggesting racialized police bias; certain (non-White) groups appear to face over-enforcement as criminal suspects and under-enforcement as victims. Yet, it is challenging to prove or disprove these claims. Unlike other countries, where governments routinely publish police-reported crime and criminal court data identifying the race/ethnicity of criminal suspects and victims, Canada maintains a ban on the publication of such
more » ... publication of such data. In this article, using an intersectional and critical analysis, we examine 127 prosecuted (predominantly domestic sex) trafficking cases and explore related claims of racial and gender bias together with sensationalism in the enforcement of Canadian anti-trafficking in persons laws. Our findings align with other empirical research observing the racially selective identification and prosecution of sex trafficking cases through a heteronormative and gender binary lens. Whether real or perceived, racial—alongside gender, sexuality, economic, citizenship, and occupational—bias has significant adverse consequences for the equality, liberty, security, mobility, labour, and access to justice rights of the Indigenous, Black, Arab/Muslim and other racialized communities being policed. Our data reveal a clear and pressing need to publish race-disaggregated crime and criminal court data and to challenge deeply ingrained stereotypes using various means.
doi:10.1017/cls.2020.2 fatcat:ajkaotnmbzec5kakgdevpbj4ba