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An opposition group in Quebec says it’s time to look at the province’s fight against child sexual abuse.
In 2020, a special commission published 58 recommendations in a report to help fight this issue in Quebec, which is considered one of the areas of youth exploitation in Canada.
According to Liberal public safety critic Jennifer Maccarone, the Coalition Avenir Québec government says it has made progress on 37 of these recommendations — but wants a clearer picture of what this progress looks like and where the gaps are.
“There is a big difference between saying, ‘I put the money aside’ and ‘I have accomplished what I set out to do in terms of the recommendations to protect our youth,'” said Maccarone, who is a member of Westmount. -Saint-Louis. “So we have to follow the government.”
Statistics from 2013 included in the report show that, of those who were sexually exploited in Quebec, 39 percent of them were children.
It’s hard to say how that number has evolved in the decade since then, as data is sparse.
In fact, one recommendation made by the commission, called CSESM, was to appoint and fund a research chair to better study the situation.
“Nothing happened about this,” said Maccarone. “Why? Where are we going? What help do you need?”
Maccarone is calling for an impartial committee to be formed to help answer this question, among other things.
MATTER OF RESULTS
Another area that needs improvement is regarding compensation for sexual assault victims, adds Maccarone.
As recommended by the CSESM, the Legault government introduced several amendments to its Crime Victim Compensation Act in 2021.
Under Bill 84, victims of crimes previously exempt from the Act — including victims of sexual exploitation — will be eligible to apply for financial assistance. This help goes towards costs directly caused by the crime, such as psychological support.
Crime victims generally have three years to file a claim for compensation, but exceptions are made for certain cases, such as child sexual abuse and spousal violence.
But as Maccarone points out, sexual exploitation of children and sexual exploitation of children are different in the eyes of the law, meaning that compensation for victims of exploitation is not guaranteed after that three-year deadline.
“That is one of the recommendations in the report that has not been accepted, which means that many victims have been abandoned,” he said. “And so we need to find out what the government’s intentions are – are they going to change the law to take that very important case into account?”
“If we’re not there to support our victims of past crimes, that says a lot about what we’re going to do to support those going forward.”
‘FALLING ON THE SHORE’
Although he made the call during Quebec’s second national event, Semaine nationale de la lutte contre l’exploitation sexuelle des mineurs (week against sexual exploitation of children), Maccarone said it is an issue Quebecers must pay close attention to throughout the year.
“We need to keep talking about that conversation, we need to create awareness, educate, talk about it regularly. Otherwise, more and more girls fall into the trap and become victims,” she said. .
It’s a trap that keeps coming up, he said, especially since it’s prevalent on social media, where victims are targeted.
“The epitome of what that might look like is a little girl who meets a guy online. And you’re always showering him with compliments, and you’re like, ‘Oh, send me a cute picture of you.’ And when he does, he gets all kinds of rewards afterwards,” Maccarone wrote.
From there, it grows. A boy may ask a girl to have sex with him, and then do it for someone else.
“This person, the pimp, will eventually alienate the girl. He will rob her of all her means of communication.”
“In most cases, they’ll wake up, and they’ll realize they’re stuck.”
Semaine nationale de la lutte contre l’exploitation sexuelle des mineurs ends on March 7.