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Thread: Petition for the decriminalization of sex work (English)

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    Petition for the decriminalization of sex work (English)

    Montreal, December 17, 2003


    Mr. Paul Martin
    Prime Minister of Canada
    House of Commons
    Ottawa, Ontario
    K1A 0A6




    Dear Mr. Prime Minister,


    Upon your arrival as Prime Minister of Canada, Stella and the sex workers project at Séro-Zéro, Montreal community organizations providing support and information to sex workers, along with the Coalition for the Rights of Sex Workers and the International Union of Sex Workers, would like to make you aware of the intolerable situation for sex workers due to the current law on prostitution.

    These laws, and the manner in which they are applied, put sex workers’ lives in danger by legitimizing and perpetuating abuse and violence against women. Very recently, in Canada and elsewhere, these laws have allowed individuals, most recently the Green River killer in Seattle, Washington, to justify the murder of prostitutes. This killer declared, “I also picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing. I picked prostitutes because I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.” In Canada, an enormous number of sex workers have been murdered, and we believe that it is time for this kind of violence to stop.

    We would like to call your attention to the fact that while the Canadian government is spending massive amounts of money and resources in the struggle to eliminate prostitution, the criminalization that occurs as a result of these laws and their application, prevents sex workers from accessing social protection. This criminalization explains why sex workers are too often exploited, beaten, raped and killed.

    Mr. Prime Minister, the organizations who have signed this letter are appealing for the decriminalization of activities related to sex work, as well as the application of real and concrete means of fighting against violence, in all contexts where sex work is practised without discrimination. The decriminalization of sex work will allow sex workers equal access to health services, social services, labour rights and protection under the law.

    We also invite you to attend a vigil in memory of murdered sex workers, in solidarity with the Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This vigil will take place in front of the Palais de Justice at 1 Notre-Dame East in Montreal, on December 17, 2003, at 5:00 p.m.

    We sincerely hope that you will take our appeal for decriminalization into serious consideration, and we wish you the best of luck in your new mandate as Prime Minister of Canada.


    Coalition pour les droits des travailleuses et travailleurs du sexe,
    Montréal

    International Union of Sex Workers

    Projet travailleurs du sexe,
    Séro-Zéro
    Montréal

    Stella,
    Montréal


    c.c. Mr. Paul Martin
    Constituency Office
    7731 Newman Blvd.
    Lasalle, Quebec
    H8N 1X9

    The current laws on prostitution and the manner in which it is applied criminalize sex workers and put their lives in danger by legitimizing and perpetuating abuse and violence against sex workers. This criminalization explains why sex workers are too often exploited, beaten, raped and killed. I believe that it is time for this kind of violence to stop in our country. I support the appeal to Prime Minister Paul Martin, for the decriminalization of activities related to sex work, as well as the application of real and concrete means of fighting against violence, in all contexts where sex work is practised without discrimination.
    Name Address City
    Annik of Annik & friends
    Http://pages.mlink.net/~annik

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    political suicide

    Considering that the Fraser report many years ago gave our government recommandations for the decriminalization of sex work, every Health department support this, the group of Libby Davis (under the expertise of Fran Shaver of Concordia which support decriminalization) was studying seriously the question until it got dissolved a month ago. Basically, the pressure to decriminalize comes from every instance that cares about preventing violence against women and prevention of HIV support the decriminalization. Is that a political suicide?

    Anyway, to reassure the very straight citizens of this Country, I doubt a government would dare decriminalize without legalization. Legalization to me, is a very naive attempt to fit a very wide range of sex workers into a small box in hope to hide them from public eyes.
    Annik of Annik & friends
    Http://pages.mlink.net/~annik

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    Prostitution is already DECRIMINALIZED in Canada..

    Annik,

    I'm not going to analyze this from the previously offered self serving perspective of clients, although I do believe that what you'll get if you bring your plan to fruition will be a reason why I won't want to visit Canada again for the purpose of engaging sex services.

    If I were PM Martin, I would be very confused about your request. Prostitution is a legal act in Canada. The law as it exists now respects the right of any individual of legal age to offer their services for money. An outcall escort is provided with a perfectly legal framework in which to conduct business. The exploitation by third persons is already forbidden by law. Inasmuch as laws do exist that protect these individual rights, there is no individual right to disturb the peace of the community. Hence the streetwalking and public solicitation aspect of the law exists and will continue to exist for the benefit of the community. Likewise, brothels are considered a public nuisance. Legalizing prostitution does not remove the stigma placed upon it by society. Women will not suddenly become brave nor will police become more vigilant to protect the rights of a prostitute. They are duty bound by law to provide assistance to any citizen who reports or is the victim of a crime.

    The present laws do need strengthening/clarification in terms of the role of the escort agency and their relationship to the SP, and the subject of incalls/brothels. Licensing of escort agencies and incall establishments are two areas that I would attack. I would oppose any requirement to license SPs. Finally, if I were an outcall SP, there is no way I'd be interested in changing the status quo.

    I'm surprised that you didn't mention the "pig farm" incident in Vancouver as opposed to the Green River incident in the states. You are addressing your Prime Minister, and despite Canada being more progressive on the prostitution issue, the laws have not done one thing to change either the behavior of the clients nor the thinking of society about the worth of prostitutes, particularly those that operate from the street. I believe the killer in BC used the same kind of rationale in choosing his victims. It is societies attitudes and not laws that need to change to stem the violence and exploitation.

    I see little evidence that the criminal status of certain forms of prostitution enables violence or exploitation. The real problem lies in the prostitute beings reluctant to assert her rights and contact the police in regards to an assault situation. In addition, the lion's share of the problems lie with the lower end of the business, ie. girls who are walking the street, or may happen to be smuggled into the country.

    I am all ears, but I'd like you to develop your argument to establish how present laws actually encourage violence and exploitation.

    And btw I have read any of a number of background materials on prostitution in Canada, including the Fraser reports.

    EBS
    Last edited by E B Samaritano; 12-18-2003 at 08:26 PM.
    mi nombre en inglés es "Good Sam"

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    laws that need to be ammended

    Maybe you do not realise why this is SO important! Here is a partial summary of laws that I find down right offensive.

    ARTICLE 210:
    The act of operating or being found in a bawdy house.

    This means escorts or masseuses may not work from home or in ANY specific place. Legally we have to go to you. Limits us having someone nearby who we know and trust who will hear our cries if we need help or protection. Lets say a small group (3 or4) anted to rent an appartment with several bedrooms to work out of. They would have each other there for security, they are trying to work discreetly and safely and not disturbing the neighbours, strictly by appointement. No late night calls. but no this is a bawdy house and needs to be shut down! and help the poor pizza delivery guy who just happens to have bad timing, or the plumber, or painter, or even friend or family of one of the girls!


    ARTICLE 211:
    The act if taking, or transporting, someone to a bawdy house.

    This limits access to ANY accompanied service. Friends, drivers, even taxis could be charged.


    ARTICLE 212:
    The act of influencing a person to practice prostitution or of living completely, or partially from the revenues of prostitution.

    This forbids anyone in my entourage from benifitting from the fact that I work. My roomate can be charged (we share all the bills, therefore he is partially living off of my revenue.) I cannot hire anyone to do anything (my poor cleaning lady!) Even my landlord can be charged technically! Even my calling someone to let them know where I am, with whom and approximately for how long is illegal since the other person is now influencing. Yes I know that doesn't make sense but the law has been selectively applied this way.


    ARTICLE 213:
    The act of communicating with another person, in a public place, with the objective of practicing prostitution.

    This not only means in the view of bystanders, but payphones and cellulars are considered public. So street workers often end up working in industrial areas and other places where there is no one there who can help! and can get into trouble by talking on the phone.


    SECTION 403:
    Identifying oneself with a name other than one's own.

    One of the ways we separate work life from personal life. Very important when working on such an intimate level. Also puts a crimp on stalking and harassment.


    There are other articles and sections that need to be changed. Basically almost anything that a working girl can do to keep herself safer is illegal.

    As for asserting her rights, LE often takes on the attitude of what else do you expect in your line of work, and often refuses to take reports, their are many examples of this in the Montreal area. Not only that LE often harasses girls illegally. There is one LE in Laval who has made dates with incalls and then threatend arrest, unless free service.


    Damn now I am really awake and riled up and it is 4AM!


    Naughtylady,
    Ronnie
    Last edited by naughtylady; 12-19-2003 at 05:12 AM.
    They will forget what you said,
    they will forget what you did,
    but they will never forget the way you made them feel.

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    Originally posted by Train
    Naughty Lady :

    Some compelling points made here , it almost sounds possible to modify most of these articles without turning the industry "upside down " .

    EBS :

    You have obviously thought this through more than I have . What do you see as the main negatives with licencing ? Perhaps naively I see the positives as being a possible reduction of underage providers and manditory health testing . I admit that this has not been totally accomplished in Ontario massage despite the licencing of massage parlours in TO . The problem is more one of enforcement there though .

    I also agree that there will probably be no significant improvement until public opinion and LE attitudes change . Perhaps one of the ways for that to happen though is to make it "more legal " .
    Train,

    The problem I see with licensing is its potential for invasion of privacy. A license requires that you make application to a government agency. In doing so, you leave on public record, your participation in the sex business. Any potential employer or other party who wants to do a background check would locate that application as part of public record. Most women wish to have their participation in this business remain off the record as they move on to other pursuits. In effect, licensing represents an "artificial" yet real deterrent for entry to the business. Alternatively if they seek privacy and choose to avoid the license, they make themselves vulnerable to arrest or citation for non compliance with licensing. So you either get fewer escorts in the workforce from the deterence factor of licensing or you introduce yet another element of paranoia in the client/SP interface as ladies will need to be concerned with encountering LE, a situation not present for any outcall escort right now.


    In my opinion, any move to make the prostitution laws more lax in Canada is going to entail adding more in terms of government regulation, fees, and even enforcement of tax collection. If Las Vegas is any model for a brothel situation, I think we all would agree we'd want to avoid that at all costs. I'm not even keen about the Amsterdam brothels. These regulated models mean nothing but "sterilized services", although they are conducive to escort safety. Outcall escorts have a sweet deal going under status quo. In the major metro areas of Canada they are free to operate anonymously without undue intervention of government or LE.

    EBS
    Last edited by E B Samaritano; 12-19-2003 at 07:57 PM.
    mi nombre en inglés es "Good Sam"

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    Re: laws that need to be ammended

    Originally posted by naughtylady
    Maybe you do not realise why this is SO important! Here is a partial summary of laws that I find down right offensive.

    Damn now I am really awake and riled up and it is 4AM!


    Naughtylady,
    Ronnie
    Naughty Lady,

    Read this..it should help you get to sleep..lO

    Your response with citing the particular sections of the law is very much appreciated. I do realize there are some ambiguities in the law, particularly in the role of agencies and incalls. However much of this comes from a lay interpretation of the law. In producing and interpreting law, one walks a fine line between guaranteeing individual rights and trampling on the rights of society. Whereas you have a right to own and control your own body, that right does not abrogate the right of society to be free of nuisance caused by that action. Canada's laws, although still not perfect, do provide an excellent framework that I feel make a legitimate attempt to maintain this delicate balance. I'll respond to each article as you presented. I would suggest that you consult an attorney for a qualified legal opinion. I am offerring this response from the benefit of having studied the law pertaining to Prostitution in Canada, as well as many sources of background study and case law.

    Article 210: Bawdy house prohibition.
    Yes current law does prohibit incalls of any kind. A reasonalbe compromise here would be to specify how one could legally conduct an incall facility. This prohibition is about pubic nuisance. If streetwalking were legalized, would you locate a prostitution stroll next to a school? If not, then why would you think it's a good idea to allow you or any of a number of ladies to set up an incall in an apartment complex or residential neighborhood? As an apartment resident, would you appreciate the excess traffic generated in such a place on a constant basis? Would you think this would make the apartment complex more or less safe, subject to burgulary or disturbance, subject to violence or assault, or perhaps even on premise drug selling? I mean if you can have a brothel, I should be able to have a drug store there too. Would this be a place where you'd want your kids to live? If you want an incall location, it needs to be in a nonresidential area zoned for such a purpose. That eliminates the concern for the pizza boy and for you and your coworker's safety.

    Article 211: Drivers, etc.--doesn't prohibit you as an independent from having a driver whom YOU pay to deliver you to a call. The reason why drivers are often charged in escort busts is that they are employees of the escort agency. The fact that they collect the fee from you on behalf of the owners is used to establish this. This doesn't apply to public transportation unless it can be shown that the driver benefits from a commission paid by the "bawdy house".

    Article 212: Living off the avails. The standard here is excercising undue influence or control. This is a good example of imaginations running wild. None of what you have said has ever been used to implicate anyone living off the avails. However, if you use your apartment as an incall, you are quite right, the landlord, your roommate and anyone found within can be charged with found in or living off the avails. Your landlord would have to be shown to have apriori knowledge of your use of the apartment as an incall. As an independent outcall esort, none of this would apply. Your profession is legal, and you share the bills with a roommate who has a source of income independent from yours..case closed. I've even heard ladies advance stories that their children could be charged. Nothing could be further from the truth. The law is made to identify pimps. In practical use it does. If you have a worthless boyfriend shacking with you who is arranging your appointments and or actively advertising on your behalf, he is by definition a pimp. As an independent, you are solely responsible for that activity. If you choose to subcontract it, keep it out of your sphere of immediate influence. If your boyfriend drives you to your appointments, that is perfectly okay.


    cont. to part 2..
    mi nombre en inglés es "Good Sam"

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    Part duex...

    Article 213-Public solicitation. This is the most often misunderstood. It is clearly about the controlling the nuisance of streetwalkers. The Canadian supreme court has ruled that land based telephones are "PRIVATE" means of communication. Conversations on any telephone, payphone and cellular are undertaken with a "reasonable expectation of privacy" and hence would be protected. Likewise print media allows for advertising under your right to free speech and press as given by you Charter of Rights. This was tested in a suit brought by the Eye magazine out of Toronto if my memory serves me correct. Solicitation in PUBLIC places such as the streets, lobbies or bars, nightclubs or public areas of hotels and restaurants, etc. are clearly what is prohibited. As an INDY outcall escort, it is perfectly legal for you to discuss services and prices via any of these private means and that includes email. This does not obligate you to do so. You just can't claim that the law prohibits that conversation.

    Section 403: I have to admit I know nothing about this particular article. If I had to guess, I would say this deals with your interface with a peace officer and not an issue of your advertising or stage name. I'll have a look at the text and get back on this one.

    As for that cop in Laval, he would be in more trouble than your friends if he were to turn you in. The next time he pulls something like that, call his bluff. He has no business being in a bawdy house either, unless he is part of an official investigation. If he is off duty, he is charged with found in. If he didn't pay, that opens up a whole other can of worms for him. And if he alledges there is a complaint, it should be on police record--i.e. that is the reason that he is at the premises. Tell him you have a condom from one of his previous visits (actually collect one and save it in a safe place) that you'd be more than happy to submit as evidence of his patronage. And let him know that if he or any of his buddies wants to pull that shit again, that he'll be the first to go down. That should put a stop to it. He can't make up a complaint post facto without taking down a good number of his fellow cops. He could not only be arrested but imprisoned for his actions. The worst you'd get would be a midemeanor ticket. Or the ladies could allow him to continue exploiting them by praying on their fear and naivety.

    And finally if you have a problem with police enforcement, and I have no doubt you do, I would address that with the civilian oversight authorities that handle complaints against the police. I would think this would be a priority for an organization like STELLA.

    Naughty Lady, I can very well see your points about the frustrations presented either real or imagined with the present laws. Some of this is a lack of determination on the part of the ladies to assert their rights as citizens, something I don't believe would be cured by passing laws legalizing the trade. The problem is that legal or not, prostitution is still an underground profession and is treated as such just as much by prostitutes as it is with the general public. Despite it's popularity, it will never be mainstreamed in society regardless to its status under law.

    I wish you and yours the best for the holidays!!

    Regards,

    EBS
    mi nombre en inglés es "Good Sam"

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    Prime Minister Agenda

    To all Sexworkers,

    With due respect. where do you believe your concerns rank on the private (an I mean private) agenda of our new Prime Minister; your gess is mine!!!

    Lawless

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    EBS: One thing about the application of the bawdy house laws is that if you are a found in, you are pretty much done for - providing the premises is in fact found to be a bawdy house. A found in charge requires that the premises is found and owner found guilty of operating said bawdy house, otherwise you are "found in" nothing.

    To say people are safe because of this or that is a bit naive. The police have a tendancy to round up everyone in site, and let the prosecutors figure it out in the end. Even if no charge is made, anyone found in (including room mates, etc) can be dragged in, printed, and a record created.

    I would never use an incall service. Just not worth the hassle.

    MATt
    Your mileage may vary... mine did!

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    Brawdy House

    And it also applies to the majority of those so-called massage parlors! And even more so!!!

    No one appears much concerned about this matter!!!

    Why is that??

    Have a look at what is reporting to be happening in TO (Massage Section)

    Lawless
    Last edited by Lawless; 12-19-2003 at 10:05 PM.

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    Immigration

    EB

    Are you serious??

    At the very least we don't have MJ in Canada!!!! I don't believe we would admit it (used on purpose!) as a political refugee!!!

    You must be jocking about immigration, but you are living in New England!!! Immigration is something of a fiction in that area!!!

    Please, come to reality!!

    Lawless

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    MJ

    EB

    We Canadian should not be too stressed, MJ could end up in Guatanamo to entertain Americans stationed there!

    Unless he volunteers to go to Irak!! and fight pollution!!! Or worse, ...he could end up in Conn playing fro UCon!!!! with youngsters! Thoughj they are probably too old for his taste!!

    Lawless

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    Lawless - actually, an MP is not in the same league as an incall SP, that is why a number of incall SPs hide behind a massage cover (those ads in the mirror for "very intimate massage" often lead to an SP rather than an actual MP).

    The assumption of an SP is that they are selling sex. An MP is "not so certain" a situation, and would require more extensive observation. It is also easier to claim innocence if you entered the MP with the though on a massage in mind (and the police cannot read your mind, unless someone on the staff points out your previous visits!). While being a found-in is a real issue, there is the potential for "innocent visitor" status.

    Also, in an MP, the courts have to prove that the owner clearly knew that sexual acts were occuring in the rooms with the individual MP. Remember too that sex between consenting adults is not against the law, just soliciting for it. If the house isn't making money on sex acts, and they are careful not to peep in to see anything, well, it is harder to prove that this is in fact a bawdy house.

    Before the new laws on lap dancing, the 369 in Laval had some very liberal rules (including digital insertion AT YOUR TABLE (there were no booths at that time) and other sexual situations. The story of that botched police operating is funny (but too long for here). In that situation, the patrons on an individual case basis were able to see that they were in something special (and the place was PACKED, go figure!). That is what a "bawdy house" looks like, ya know?

    Getting back to where I started: an SP incall is sex - it exists only for sex, there is no way that the operators are NOT aware that the premises is being used for solicitation of prostitution, therefore is more easily found to be a bawdy house. An MP is not clearly only for sex, and therefore is harder to prove as a bawdy house - and is the reason why MPs are able to operate openly (signs, etc).

    As for what happened in Toronto, it was more to do with child welfare, immigration issues, and the potential for "white slavery". A number of girls from foreign countries are brought to Canada and put to work as MPs or SPs with a large debt to pay for their "transport" to Canada. Many times, these girls were smuggled or otherwise entered illegally into Canada, and they cannot contact authorities to get out. So as a result, they do along, even if they are not happy about it.

    The police were not "cracking down on sex in MPs"... although they did discover a few situations that are being addressed.

    MATt
    Your mileage may vary... mine did!

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    Originally posted by ManAboutTown
    EBS: One thing about the application of the bawdy house laws is that if you are a found in, you are pretty much done for - providing the premises is in fact found to be a bawdy house. A found in charge requires that the premises is found and owner found guilty of operating said bawdy house, otherwise you are "found in" nothing.

    To say people are safe because of this or that is a bit naive. The police have a tendancy to round up everyone in site, and let the prosecutors figure it out in the end. Even if no charge is made, anyone found in (including room mates, etc) can be dragged in, printed, and a record created.

    I would never use an incall service. Just not worth the hassle.

    MATt
    MAT,

    I think you must have misunderstood what I've written. Nowhere have I advised that incalls are a good thing. In fact my past musings on this subject would indicate that I'm not in favor of legalizing incalls at all. My mention of that in this essay is for the sake of being comprehensive, as I am sure there are many who feel otherwise. The distinction you make about needing proof the place is a bawdy house is actually kind of moot. You can be arrested and charged regardless. If there is insufficient proof, you still have an arrest record, just no conviction.

    EBS
    mi nombre en inglés es "Good Sam"

  15. #15

    Re: Train

    Originally posted by EagerBeaver
    Train,

    What is going on in Toronto with the "white slave trade" is well known and is also discussed in posts on this Board by MatT and others. Why aren't you bashing them and disputing their posts? You can believe whatever it is you wish to believe. I have friends who are hobbyists that live in Toronto who acknowledge the situation. Why don't you tell them that this reality is a concoction of the American media? I am sorry that you don't like it when someone speaks the harsh truth. The truth is sometimes painful, it is like a cattle thermometer being stuck up your ass with no lubrication, but someone on this Board needs to have the guts to say it, and it falls on me. And look, I have been equally critical of my own country and my own State when it is deserved so I think you really have not paid any attention to my other posts on this Board. But I do not wish to get in a pissing match over this. There are many things that I greatly admire about Canada in general and Montreal in particular, but the situation in Toronto is what it is and I am entitled to speak what I believe to be the truth without being characterized as an "Ugly American."

    Essentially your post says that my opinion is bullshit and Toronto is not any more a breeding ground for white slave trade than anywhere else. If that is true why do we not hear about these things happening in New York City or larger American cities? I think PART of the reason is that the vermin that has gotten into Toronto does not get into the USA as easily. Just my opinion, and I am entitled to voice it without your insults, especially when there is less info to suggest that what you say is the truth.
    Eager, bud the US ain't morally pure either. As it says in the bible "let him who is without sin cast the first stone"

    Why don't you hear those things happening in your cities? If you actually are naive enough to believe that it doesn't, is probably because you have other major concerns going on at the moment and sex busts just aren’t important enough to make the first page.

    We are somewhat of a more quiet nation and thus when something of this nature arises it gets press. If this were true in the states all you would be hearing about day in day out would be sex busts.

    Here is a little bit of info after a very quick search.



    According to the United Nations’ conservative estimate, there are 4 million women who are involved in sex trafficking nationwide. And in the United States alone, the Department of State reports that a minimum of 50,000 women, children and some men are trafficked every year.

    In response to these growing problems, the FBI busted a national prostitution, human trafficking and money laundering criminal enterprise this July. In this particular raid, FBI officials say that the owners of Crystal Palace Nightclub and Ok Yeo Bong bar in Sunnyvale, Calif., were involved in a sex trafficking ring where immigrant women were forced to have “dates” and sex with customers in exchange for rent, utilities and cost incurred to transport them into the U.S.



    FBI Busts Teen Sex Ring
    Teen Prostitutes Make $700, $800 A Night
    POSTED: 3:59 p.m. CST February 27, 2002
    UPDATED: 2:41 p.m. CST February 28, 2002
    HOUSTON -- The News2Houston Investigators reported Wednesday night in an exclusive story that the FBI has busted a teenage sex ring wide open.
    The teenage sex ring spanned across several states.
    It landed an untold number of teenage girls in so-called modeling studios in Houston, as adult men raked in the money from their sex slavery.


    Do I need to say more.

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