Prostitution is not driven by poverty. Prostitution is driven by men who desire to purchase women and youth for sex. That is why, for the first time in Canadian history, our government has brought forward legislation that aggressively targets the pimps and johns who fuel the demand for this activity with tough penalties.
While some women would no doubt make plenty of money by running escort services or choosing a few well-paying clients, the majority of those in prostitution do not have that kind of relative bargaining power. And considering that we share a border with the U.S., not only will decriminalization lead to increased demand from Canadian citizens, but also from our southern neighbours.
I am pleased to see that bill C-36 puts the responsibly on the johns. For far too long, prostitution has been an anonymous, low-risk activity for those seeking to purchase sex. Considering that prostitution has a high degree of violence (regardless of legal context), the only way to reduce the harm on a wide, long-term scale is to reduce demand for paid sex. We applaud Minister MacKay on his courageous first step of introducing legislation that recognizes the need for addressing demand and for pledging much needed funding for frontline programs.
Canada's profoundly misguided approach to prostitution and treatment of prostitutes changed on June 4, 2014, with the introduction of Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. By making prostitution illegal for the first time in Canadian history, the impact of the new prohibitions will be borne by those who purchase sex and persons who exploit others through prostitution rather than vulnerable individuals.
The Government released a report on its consultations regarding Parliament's response to the Supreme Court decision last December striking down several prostitution-related offences in the Criminal Code. Regrettably, the information made available about the consultations raises more questions than it answers, and leads one to query whether an informed debate will occur.
Is sex work inherently and irredeemably wicked, as the abolitionsts would have us conclude? Or is it in fact possible to have a morally defensible prostitution? A testing of public values alone will not answer these questions, assuming they are even answerable. Values are an important and necessary starting point for a discussion of public policy, to be sure, but they are only one element of policy. Given that vulnerable lives are going to be affected, the feds are going to need to come up with a solid policy that has something more beneath it than our deeply-held touchy feelies.
For far too long, Canada's approach to prostitution has been to treat prostitution, and specifically the women involved in it, as a nuisance and not as a form of violence against women. This approach must change. We must shift our approach to recognize that women in prostitution have the right to dignity, equality and most of all, to be free from exploitation and violence.
HALIFAX - Justice Minister Peter MacKay says the government will introduce its new prostitution legislation well ahead of a December deadline.Speaking...
I am writing to urge Amnesty International to reconsider its policy position, leaked to the public, which promotes the legalization of prostitution and the rights of pimps over the rights of victims of sexual exploitation. AI has built its reputation on advocating for victims around the world. Why is AI abandoning victims now? We need to recognize prostitution for what it is. It is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated. Legalization is the wrong approach.
For vulnerable Canadian young people ensnared in the sex trade, this morning's Supreme Court decision to allow legal prostitution is distressing. We at Covenant House, the largest agency serving homeless, runaway and trafficked youth in the Americas, believe it could result in an escalation of child prostitution and human trafficking, as it has in other countries where the sex trade is legal. Those of us whose primary concern is the protection of the young will be closely monitoring how the government proposes to implement and regulate prostitution.
Despite this new ruling, the debate around prostitution is hardly settled. There are those who wish to legalize and normalize the industry, those who wish to criminalize all aspects of the industry, and finally those, like myself, who recognize prostitution as an industry that is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated.
It's very simple, really. Legalizing prostitution does not mean we're normalizing it or even necessarily condoning it (for those "what has the world come to?" folks), but simply regulating it. Criminalizing sex work (and the related actions required to engage in it) has never eradicated prostitution and it never will. That's just wishful thinking. But better regulation ultimately establishes the conditions for increased protection of sex workers, and isn't that what it's all about? If legislation has the power to prevent or even simply decrease the odds of one less sex worker from being abused or killed, then what are we sitting around discussing?
Cutting through northern British Columbia is a notorious stretch of highway. Along what is now widely known as the Highway of Tears, a staggering number of First Nation women have been murdered or gone missing. For many First Nations women, however, the Highway of Tears just keeps going, shearing its way across the country through our small towns and inner cities, bringing with it sexual exploitation and violence. Some 130 years later, the Highway still pushes itself mercilessly from the west coast, then across the Prairies, to run the length of this country. The problem cuts to the very core of Canada's long standing, abusive relationship with First Nation people.
Teenage sex trafficking is a worldwide problem and therefore all governments need to be involved. That is why I believe I need to be involved as a law maker from Canada. I need to do my share in raising awareness of trafficking of children and being a force in changing Canadian laws so that we can help those abroad.