by Surjit Singh Flora
A damaging industry has formed in Canada, as economic slowdown has caused women, particularly in the Southeast Asian community, to turn to prostitution for easy money — and the problem is growing more visible month by month.
Teenage girls of Indian origin with a student visa in Canada are increasingly turning to a life of crime, prostitution and selling drugs for easy money.
Last year, the story of a 23-year-old Punjabi resident who had committed suicide by falling under a train in New Hamburg, Ontario made waves across the province. It was reported at the time that the man had taken a loan and could not repay it due to a lack of work, and that he was mentally disturbed.
This was blamed on the ongoing struggles associated with COVID-19. The same troubles have begun to face women in the South Asian community locally, who have turned to illegal and dangerous methods to earn money in the face of economic slowdown.
Recently, a close friend told me that his daughter, who lives in Brampton, said that she has seen a rise in women turning to prostitution to earn money due to a lack of work opportunities and to repay loans incurred through education. This is not merely anecdotal.
Rosie Thakkar, a diversity coordinator for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey (British Columbia) says that more and more Indian origin girls turn to prostitution and eventually become drug dealers in these gangs. In many cases, the “South Asian younger girls are getting used in this process, whether for easy money or to get gangster boyfriends,” says Thakkar.
What the RCMP has worried about is the fact that the number of Indo-Canadian teenage girls joining such gangs is increasing. A 15-year-old girl who participated in the Thakkar investigation said that South Asian girls think this is a way to get rich quickly. “Girls just want money. They like shopping,” the source said. “They just need more money to sell drugs.”
From time to time, the RCMP has launched a new female-only pro- gramme to help teenage girls build self-esteem. But the problem is not limited to the city of Surrey. The issue of South Asian gangs is severe in all of Canada. Besides British Columbia, these gangs are also a massive headache for police in Ontario, particularly in Brampton, which also has a high Punjabi population.
The problem is more visible than ever. Anyone with a working computer and a search engine doesn’t have to look far before they run across scores of listings for Punjabi/Indian girls offering their services, which run anywhere from $80-300. Although this topic is often discussed in the Canadian media and on social media in Canada, the question arises in my mind whether this spate of cases involving young people being involved in significant accidents were motivated by mental challenges or depression over the economic slowdown, and whether those cases were motivated by suicidal tendencies.
Our media is calling them an accident. This time, I see my suspicions being confirmed. The truth about the youth’s deaths is being concealed and the economic problems of the youth, the growing mental issues in them, especially depression, and the growing illegal occupations like drugs, gangs, and prostitution, is only getting worse.
Everyone knows that the business of migration with Punjab is booming. There are more than 10-12,000 such im- migration centres in Punjab.
Immigration has also become a significant source of income for the federal government. The feds heavily advertise such pro- grams in the world’s major newspapers, electronic and social media. In every corner of Punjab, you are being encouraged to migrate to Canada.
A report by the Fraser Health Authority shows that between 2015 and 2018, the number of deaths from over- dose among South Asians increased by nearly 300 per cent, while the number of non-South Asians living in areas under the jurisdiction of health authorities increased by 138 per cent. By 2020, toxic and illegal drugs caused 1,716 deaths.
This is a 74 per cent increase from the 984 deaths in 2019, causing coroners in 2020 to call it an overdose. Punjabi media is trying to hide the truth; but can it re- ally be hidden?
This isn’t easy to do nowadays. The influx of Punjabis into Canada has dramatically increased. It has become more accessible to relatives and friends over WhatsApp, and the growing influence of social media is making it very difficult to hide the truth.
If our newspapers or electronic media try to do so, they will not succeed and nor will they be able to maintain their credibility