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Canada denies foreign strippers must bare for visas
Updated: 2004-07-30 09:04

The Canadian government is denying reports its visa officers are sifting through hundreds of nude photos from women hoping to enter the country to work as strippers and exotic dancers.

But immigration officials admit they do require photographic evidence from applicants of their trade -- and say its all done to crack down on trafficking in women.

Eyebrows were raised in May when reports from Mexico said immigration officers were ferreting through pictures of strippers to ensure they were bona fide visa applicants.

New controversy erupted on Tuesday, after the Toronto Sun tabloid claimed immigration officers were poring through hundreds of photos of naked strippers to keep imposters out of Canada.

"We never, never ask for nude photographs," Immigration Canada spokeswoman Maria Iadinardi told AFP.

"The applicants are asked to provide evidence that they are professional dancers," she said, adding that photos could be taken in foreign clubs before a woman began her performance.

Union cards, references from employers and other evidence is also collected in support of an application, as it is for visa hopefuls from any other legal trade.

Vancouver Immigration lawyer Richard Kurland said the rule on what he termed "the inventory of nudie pictures" stemmed from a close monitoring by Canadian authorities of strippers coming into the country to work.

Eighty percent of the 850 exotic dancers granted visas obtained their document from the Canadian embassy in Bucharest, Romania.

Authorities have found dancers there speak English and French, Canada's two official languages, are less likely to be involved in the vice trade than other countries and return home promptly when their jobs are over.

According to documents released under freedom of information laws, dancers from another city, Moscow often provide soft-porn pictures to support their claims.

Applicants are expected to provide "good evidence," an embassy memo says.

"They will frequently have been the subject of photo-spreads in second-level adult magazines and/or high level finishers in contests such as 'Miss Nude North America,' 'Miss Nude Europe,' it said.

An official at the Canadian embassy in Mexico said in another document that stage photos taken during performances are required.

Iadinari said that immigration officers were looking for proof that a woman was employed as an exotic dancer and knew exactly what she was going to do in Canada.

In the past, some women have been lured to the country under false pretences, only to find they are required to work as prostitutes.

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