Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Porn site featuring native city women raises alarm

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A Florida-based pornography website that claims to feature aboriginal women from Winnipeg is exploiting vulnerable young people, the leader of an aboriginal women's group said Wednesday.

"We need people to be aware of this," said Lisa Michell, founder of the Memorial March for Missing and Murdered Women.

Florida resident Shimelesse Mekbeb, who calls himself Shimmy2 on the site, advertises videos of aboriginal girls performing sex acts, which he writes were made when he took a trip to Winnipeg earlier this year.

The women were willing, the site says.

At least one of the girls has been identified, Michell said, claiming she's a teenager originally from Thunder Bay.

Michell wants police to investigate whether any of the young women were drugged or underage.

She learned about the website on Monday, through an email from someone she knows in Toronto.

She has contacted the Winnipeg Police Service and talked directly to police Chief Keith McCaskill about the website. She said he has promised to look into it.

Michell said she's circulated news of the website widely through women's groups, aboriginal groups and First Nations leaders, mostly in Winnipeg, but also across western Canada.

"The community is very upset about it. They don't want this individual in our community or even in our country. I would say to him, 'Don't exploit our women,' " Michell said. "Really, are any of us safe?"

Michell's campaign against the porn website is also drawing support from social media, with Facebook messages spreading warnings about the pornographer.

One posting from the Treaty 3 area reads, "Webmaster 'Shimmy Cash,' who claims to have been involved in adult websites since 1997, is now in search of 'models' for what he described as 'his' unique ethnic niche of 'native American Indian girls.

"How do you feel knowing that the creative niche is exploitation of our sisters, mothers, and daughters; at least one about seven months pregnant? Please pass awareness of this matter along to women's and First Nations advocacy organizations to help ignite awareness about this matter," the Facebook post reads.

Michell said there is no way of knowing if the pornographer will return to Winnipeg or move on to other cities and towns.

"This is not an aboriginal issue. It's a community issue. Who's to say he won't target other women?" Michell said.

The Free Press is not identifying the website.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 4, 2010 B3

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