New Prostitution Law Acknowledges Inherent Violence of Sex Industry
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 5, 2014
[Vancouver, BC] Thursday, June 5, 2014 – REED receives the draft proposed legislation in Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, with cautious optimism. The Canadian government has taken a bold step to change the paradigm through which the country handles the commercial sexual exploitation of women, and this foundation gives us a solid starting point from which to advocate for women’s equality.
The bill contains many assertions to be applauded. The preamble to the bill clearly affirms the inherent violence of prostitution, the social harm caused by the commodification of women’s bodies, the disproportionate impact of prostitution on women and girls, and the fact that the demand for paid sex fuels prostitution. Buyers will face criminal sanctions, the financial benefit from the prostitution of others is illegal, and the government has pledged funds to help women exit prostitution. We affirm the steps the government has taken towards framing prostitution as a form of violence against women and are encouraged that they do not accept prostitution as inevitable; these are great wins for those who support the full equality and dignity of women and girls.
At the same time the provisions that allow the continued criminalization of women selling sex undercut the intent of the bill. While selling sex is generally decriminalized through this bill, it is considered illegal if the solicitation happens anywhere in public near where one can “reasonably expect” to find persons under 18 or where prostituted persons stop or attempt to stop any motor vehicle. Both of these provisions allow broad loopholes through which prostituted women can be criminalized and subject to further vulnerabilities, contradicting the stated intent of the bill.
We urge the government to amend the bill to reflect the full decriminalization of prostituted women in all cases and use the bill as a starting point from which to end violence against women and create dignity and equality for all women and girls.
Michelle Miller 604.725.3838
Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity (REED)