West Island human trafficking survivor makes a symbolic artistic gesture



As part of the 5th Edition of Montreal’s Mural Festival, a sexual exploitation survivor 
left her handprints on artist Taka Sudo’s Phoenix

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A West Island resident placed her handprints on a work of art by artist Taka Sudo yesterday, in order to send the message that her rights, as a survivor of human trafficking, are as important as anyone else’s. This unprecedented initiative for Quebec, was put into place despite the fact that sex trafficking and exploitation are major plagues in our society. In fact, Montreal is a major destination for sex tourism, made all too evident during last week’s Grand Prix in the great metropolis. As well, in 2012, the Council on the Status of Women revealed that 89% of sex workers wanted to leave (CSF, 2012).

“Nobody should have to be obliged to sell their body in order to meet their needs and aspire to a better future. I was only 17, left on my own and naïve,” said Chantal. “I only wanted to be valued and accepted. They took advantage of my vulnerability, selling me like a common object. I believe this wall is a way for me to be recognized for who I really am. I wish that this gesture be the symbol before humanity, that my rights do not limit me to only survive but to live with dignity. I also would like this gesture to ensure the efforts of an organization dedicated to helping victims of human trafficking, such as the Way Out with whom I am involved, be recognized.”

Situated at 3500 rue Saint-Jacques in Montreal, this work is a visual reminder of human rights challenges that are faced, and that we all can be this Phoenix by being part of the change for a better future where peace and justice reign on earth. This mural symbolizes spirituality, direction, protection, and awareness. The phoenix is a mythical bird capable of rebirth from its ashes. When a Phoenix is at the point of death, it bursts into flames with magnificence. Then, in its own time, it is reborn from its ashes, renewed and alive, more than ever before. Taka Sudo declared that“The Phoenix is a symbol of glory, incorruptible and immortal.
Human rights are immortal.”


About The Way Out

Founded in 2013, The Way Out’s mission is to offer lodging and support to victims of sexual exploitation in Quebec, aged 18-35, in order to offer a way to leave the destructive, criminal environment they are in, and to have hope in building a positive future. This establishment meets the specific needs of these victims in order to provide health services, counseling and a means to facilitate their reinsertion into society. The Way Out’s desire is to open its first shelter in Montreal in 2018-2019. For more information, please visit www.lasortie.org.