A heartbreak of ribbon

You may have noticed Victoria’s police officers wearing fuchsia-coloured ribbons...

You may have noticed Victoria’s police officers wearing fuchsia-coloured ribbons in support of Stop Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Awareness Week. Sitting in the middle of the week is also International Women’s Day — a day intended for celebration, but one which tends to give voice to just how far we, as a fair and equal society, still have to go.

Fuchsia was chosen for the ribbons because it is a combination of red, for red light districts, and purple, the provincial colour for violence prevention.

It’s difficult to think of Victoria’s children being exploited for sexual purposes — yet nearly everyone who ever attended high school has a story of the girl with low self-esteem and loose morals who was used and dumped by boy after boy. Nobody probably stopped to ask her “Why?”, especially not the boys who offered alcohol, drugs or simply a moment of tenderness in exchange for sex.

I wonder if those grown-up boys ever look back and feel shame about their behaviour, or if they’ve become the predators who still haunt our streets and offices today. In talking with a VicPD officer who patrols our bars and nightclubs, I asked if drugs such as GHB (gamma hydroxybutyrate) are as prevalent as TV shows make it seem.

His answer was simple: If you’re a woman and you lose sight of your drink, forget it. Get a fresh one.

But the way in which children can be exploited really hit home recently when a 22-year-old Victoria man was charged with kidnapping and prostituting a 16-year-old girl, using the internet as his street corner.

Stephen Charlie is facing charges related to forcing the girl into prostitution, using threats to live off the avails of prostitution, extortion, assault and kidnapping. The identity of the teen is protected by a court order.

At the time of the arrest, Cpl. Kathy Rochlitz of the West Shore RCMP said, “This type of crime often targets vulnerable, at-risk youth with the lure of money, drugs and attention. . . . But, in the end, the youth is left victimized, with nothing to show for the abuse they have endured.”

The fuchsia ribbons are designed to get people talking, and also to show those vulnerable young women that, despite what they may have been led to believe, there are still people out there who care and want to help. M

Quirky Critters

We’ve extended the deadline for our fun Quirky Critters photo contest to Friday, March 16. The rules are simple: bring in a fun, crisp photo of your favourite pet doing something, well, quirky. I’m hoping the winner will be cool enough to make the cover. Prizes and full rules on Page 17.

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