Prostitution and human trafficking is a global and cyclical issue that continues to grow in numbers, affecting the lives of many women and children. It is a form of violence against women and children, caused by male demand for access to sex. This growing issue has been around for centuries. So, why care now?
Amongst many reasons to care, Canada’s current legal situation regarding prostitution laws is at the forefront. On September 28th, 2010 in the province of Ontario – Justice Himel struck down three aspects of prostitution laws: living off the avails of prostitution, communicating for the purpose of prostitution, and living in a bawdy house.
Decriminalizing prostitutes is a step forward, as johns and pimps rather than prostitutes should be the targets of prostitution laws. However, other aspects of these law provisions are steps backwards, and can have drastic negative impacts.
There is a very real possibility that this judgment could spread and influence the rest of Canada. We need to wake up before its too late. The legalization of prostitution affects each and every woman; empowering men to legally buy an unlimited amount of sex on their own terms, from marginalized women and children of our society.
The abolitionist perspective views prostitution as a modern form of slavery, which must be stopped. We need to work towards the abolition of prostitution through a Canadianized version of the Nordic model. Amongst other key points, the Nordic model decriminalizes the prostitutes and criminalizes those purchasing sex, while offering support and resources to the prostitutes.
The adoption of this model would challenge our society’s treatment of marginalized women and children by offering truly supportive and sustainable options to ending prostitution.
We need to give the most vulnerable citizens a voice. With so many people defining, judging and giving solutions, the voices of these marginalized women, children and advocates are constantly being drowned out. We need to listen to the voices of the most vulnerable citizens and bring them to the forefront of this agenda.
We need to ask ourselves: What makes men entitled to purchase sex? What makes it okay to protect the power of men to buy sex? How can we change this ideology?
To learn more about this issue, please watch our documentary featured on this website.
“Once you know about other people’s enslavement, and you don’t fight for them, you’ve lost something of your own humanity” – Lee Lakeman, Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter