Pornography normalizes the demand for male access to women’s bodies and violence in sex acts.  In order to meet this uncontrolled demand for sexual and violent access to women’s bodies, women and children are trafficked into the sex industry. Prostitution is systemic violence against women and is inherently harmful.  Because we support prostituted women and not prostitution, we call for the nation-wide implementation of current Canadian law which [almost completely] decriminalizes prostituted women while criminalizing those who who exploit them.

View Globe and Mail article The Trafficked: Sexual Exploitation is Costing Canadian Women their Lives.

Pornography

“Pornography is the second in profits only to the arms Industry.”

Pornography is the second in profits only to the arms Industry.  The pornography industry makes more than $97 billion per year and is a driving force behind sex (human) trafficking. Porn coarsens and sexualizes our popular culture and – to put it mildly – stimulates the demand side  of the commercial sex equation, with results that are often devastating to relationships, families, health and careers, and sometimes end in criminal assault and murder.

What was once called soft-core pornography is now part of the mainstream, and the porn industry portrays increasingly violent acts against women. This means the woman being filmed in the pornography experiences the violence in her body.  Young girls and women regularly report being asked by male sexual partners for the same kind of access to their bodies.  Prostituted women are routinely expected to perform degrading and painful sex acts men have seen in pornography.

This demand for pornified sex fuels trafficking in women. Brothel operators and pimps meet the porn-driven demand with a supply of vulnerable women who are seduced, tricked, drugged, kidnapped, abducted, or stolen from their families, and forced into prostitution.

Reference: Pornland and http://www.culturereframed.org/

Human Trafficking

“The majority of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation.”

Human trafficking is the second largest illegal industry worldwide and the fastest growing, generating annual profits of $32 billion.  The UN and human rights groups estimate that between 12.3 million and 27 million people are trafficked each year. The income of the global prostitution industry goes directly into the pockets of pimps, human traffickers and brothel owners and may indirectly benefit tour operators, airlines, hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers, bar managers and advertisers.

Human trafficking is a form of gender-based “slavery” that mainly affects women and girls who are already vulnerable to exploitation. The majority of human trafficking is for sexual exploitation. Women are recruited, transported, sold and controlled, either within national or across international borders, and then forced to sell their bodies for an enormous amount of profit for others. They are controlled through threats, force, deception, coercion and other abuses of power.

Trafficking is a process, not a single act. Once a woman is under a trafficker’s control she is often moved to an unfamiliar place where she is forced to sell her body to dozens of men each day. There are many factors that keep women from seeking help including fear, shame, lack of local language skills, discrimination and control by their trafficker.

Sometimes “recruitment” means preying upon unknowing women but it also includes manipulating vulnerable women and children into believing that they are “choosing” such a life. Women and girls are often manipulated through grooming or conditioning by someone posing as a “boyfriend” who ultimately ends up pimping them and controlling them through isolation, degradation and physical torture, mixed with occasional indulgences. Survivors of trafficking sometimes do not realize how they were actually manipulated into the industry until they have the opportunity to understand the dynamics of sexual exploitation and fully understand grooming techniques as a form of trafficking. In the meantime, many simply blame themselves for their “mistake” and maintain personal responsibility.

Palermo Protocol, United Nations

Trafficking and Prostitution

“Prostitution and trafficking in women requires a demand among men for women and children, mainly girls.”

There is a vicious link between the local sex industry and global sex trafficking. Prostitution and trafficking in women requires a demand among men for women and children, mainly girls. If men did not regard it as their self-evident right to purchase and sexually exploit women and children, prostitution and trafficking would not exist. International trafficking in human beings could not flourish but for the existence of local prostitution markets where men are willing and able to buy and sell women and children for sexual exploitation. Any country with a robust sex industry experiences a dramatic increase in human trafficking. The majority of women who are trafficked come from minority groups, a life of poverty or backgrounds of sexual violence, making them more likely to be exploited.

View “The Links Between Prostitution and Sex Trafficking: A Briefing Handbook” by Janice G. Raymond (view/download pdf file)

Harms of Prostitution

“Women in the sex industry regularly suffer rape, beatings, verbal abuse, and degradation as a routine reality.”

Prostitution is systemic violence against women and is inherently harmful. The average age a woman (girl) is recruited into prostitution is fourteen, most often by someone who will profit in some way from the sale of her body. Women who have been prostituted display the same level of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as those just returning from active duty in a war situation. Women in the sex industry regularly suffer rape, beatings, verbal abuse, and degradation as a routine reality of being prostituted. Whether prostitution occurs indoors or on the street, in a country where it is legal or criminalized, women are victimized by violence.

View article “Bad for the Body, Bad for the Heart: Prostitution Harms Women Even if Legalized or Decriminalized”, by Melissa Farley. (view/download pdf file)

Demand For Paid Sex

“Demand flourishes in an atmosphere of anonymity.”

The very workings of human trafficking are a market-based model of supply and demand. There is an uncontrolled male demand for sexual access to the bodies of women (and children) and the supply for this demand is met through violating the dignity of women. It is our conviction that in order to stem the tide of human trafficking we must end the demand for paid sex. Demand flourishes in an atmosphere of anonymity.

“Comparing Sex Buyers With Men Who Don’t Buy Sex:  ‘You can have a good time with the servitude vs. ‘You’re supporting a system of degradation’.” – Melissa Farley and other researchers

“It’s Just Like Going to the Supermarket.” – Report from CWASU

“Report of the UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons” – Sigma Huda

“Faster, Higher, Stronger” – Trafficking and the 2010 Olympic Games

“Men Who Buy Sex: Who They Buy and What They Know” Excellent report from the UK on men who buy sex

Economic Globalization

“Trafficking occurs in a context of global economic inequalities and a failure to respect the human rights of a majority of the world’s population.”

Trafficking occurs in a context of global economic inequalities and a failure to respect the human rights of a majority of the world’s population. Enormous amounts of people find themselves unable to provide for their families and are forced into situations of extreme desperation. The impact of structural adjustment policies is worsening the feminization of poverty; women make up 70% of the world’s poor. Women are more vulnerable to exploitation as they are often supporting families, work in unregulated sectors of the economy, have little or no access to education, employment and options for migration. They are often seeking to migrate due to war and internal conflict, poverty, statelessness and domestic violence, but face strict immigration policies and are unable to migrate legally. Often their vulnerability is exploited and they fall into the hands of traffickers.

At the same time the Internet has provided opportunities for organized crime to flourish, and the sex industry to be increased through the proliferation of pornography and sex tourism. The result is globalized prostitution.

Sex Tourism

“…many are also trafficked within their own borders for the booming business of sex tourism.”

While women are often trafficked from developing countries to “destination” countries in the global north, many are also trafficked within their own borders for the booming business of sex tourism. Privileged men pay money to travel to poor countries on tours (or alone) to buy women – most often those with darker skin, less money and fewer opportunities than themselves – creating an eroticized situation based on power imbalances. Entire sectors of the economy in developing countries are centred on increasing sex tourism whereby they offer up the most vulnerable in their culture to bring dollars or euros into the country.

The Canadian Law

“Every country that has fully legalized/decriminalized prostitution has experienced a dramatic increase in underground prostitution and sex trafficking.”

In December of 2014, the Government passed into law, amending the Criminal Code, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA).  This Act changes Canadian law into something more similar to what is known as the Nordic Model.  The Act criminalizes the purchase and profit of sexual services (i.e. Johns and pimps), the advertisement for sexual service by a third party (i.e. The Georgia Straight ads) and criminalizes the sell of sexual services near school grounds, parks, etc.  This new act places the emphasis of criminalization on the purchasers and profiteers of a prostituted person.  Unfortunately, it still criminalizes the prostituted person if she/he is near certain areas.   

Missing from the Canadian enactment of PCEPA is wide scale education of the public about prostitution as violence against women, and creating accessible exit programs for prostituted women.

Since the enactment of the new law, there have been two extreme reactions by provinces and cities across the country.  Some cities, especially in the Alberta and Manitoba, have used the law to begin arresting and prosecuting johns and pimps with great energy and zeal.  Other areas, like British Columbia, particularly the Lower Mainland have declared the act unconstitutional and refuse to call for municipal police departments to use the law or the Crown to prosecute using the law.  In fact, the Provincial Justice Minister of BC, Suzanne Anton, has stated as much, while the Vancouver Chief of Police Adam Palmer indicates that policing resources must be allocated in more important areas.  

Canada is currently facing a move by “sex industry advocates” to fully decriminalize prostitution (tantamount to legalization). This misguided effort would be a gift to traffickers and pimps as they would be able to operate with impunity and expand their lucrative exploitative activities under the guise of valid businesses. Every country that has fully legalized/decriminalized prostitution has experienced a dramatic increase in underground prostitution and sex trafficking.

“Ten Reasons for Not Legalizing Prostitution And a Legal Response to the Demand for Prostitution” – Jancie G. Raymond

“Prostitution: Violating the Human Rights of Poor Women” – Shelagh Day

“Oldest Oppression or Oldest Profession?: Addressing Prostitution after the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in Canada v. Bedford – Benjamin Perrin