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Fiji women sex slaves rescued in Canada


Sep 12, 2009 12:00:00 AM

The Fiji Community in Canada is in shock after two Fiji women working as sex slaves were rescued from a massage parlour in Edmonton, Canada by police and government officials.

Former trade counsel at the Fiji Trade Mission in Canada, Ashwant Dwivedi told Fijilive that the two women are Fiji nationals.

“I support the law and enforcement agency calling this incident as a modern day slavery,” he said from Canada.

Edmonton vice squad detective Dave Schening told reporters at a news conference at the girls were very withdrawn and fearful.

Schening told the Edmonton journal that it was difficult to talk to them, because there was a language barrier.

“Interpreters were required, and when I did get an opportunity to talk to them, there were a lot of tears and initially, fear to talk to police."

In early September, police received a tip that there might be a bawdy house and a case of human trafficking involving Sachi Professional Massage Spa located at 17519 100th Ave., Insp. Danielle Campbell said.

"This business was operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week," she said. "Investigators had reason to believe that a number of women were being deceived, forced or coerced into providing sex acts against their will. As such, these women were forced into sexual slavery or involuntary servitude."

With the assistance of RCMP and Canada Border Services Agency, city police executed two warrants early Sept. 5; one at the spa and the other at an apartment near 69th Avenue and 199th Street belonging to a person connected with the business.

A man and a woman were arrested as they left the business, as were four women inside the spa.

Schening said it appears the women, who all have permanent resident status in Canada, came to Edmonton of their own free will from other parts of the country, but were deceived into thinking they were coming to work in a legitimate massage establishment.

"There are people in major cities in Canada who have ads in foreign newspapers in those cities," he said. "They answer the ads and are led to believe they are coming to a new job in a massage parlour that pays very well. They are put to work and very quickly realize it is more than massage, it is the sex trade."

It appears the three women had not been in Canada long when they answered the ads. They appear to come from traditional, honour-orientated families which made it easy to control them through fear and threats.

"The worst thing that could happen to them is to bring dishonour to the family. They were told they were free to walk out if they wanted, but they were told, 'If you leave, we will tell your family,' " Schening said.

"They ate, drank and slept in the rooms they worked in," Schening said. "I don't know what brought them to Canada. But I know they came to Edmonton thinking they had profitable employment."

The Fiji government told Fijilive that no contact has been made by the Canadian authorities yet.


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