Sex Buyers Beware: Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation

In October, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County (Seattle), Washington, Mr. Valiant Richey will be in Vancouver to explore the demand side of commercial sexual exploitation with public servants and law enforcement. Additionally, he will present at a public event in the Vancouver Public Library on October 16th. To attend this free event, register online.

Current Canadian Federal Law

The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), federal Canadian law enacted in 2015, criminalizes the demand for paid access to the bodies of women and girls. The bill denounces and prohibits the purchase of sexual services to eliminate the demand for prostitution.  The bill also acknowledges prostitution as inherently exploitative disproportionately impacting the dignity and equality of women and girls.

No Enforcement In BC

Unfortunately, British Columbia law enforcement take their cues from Vancouver. In 2013, Vancouver Police Department (VPD) released ‘sex work’ guidelines that consider prostitution a consensual act between consenting adults that is not an enforcement priority.  In 2015, a year after PCEPA was adopted, the VPD released a youtube video re-emphasizing their unwillingness to give women the protection of the federal law.

However, law enforcement in some Canadian jurisdictions have responded to enforce the federal law.

  • In Ontario, 35 sex buyers were charged after a six-month investigation by the London Police Service earlier this year; 18 exploited women were relocated and provided support and assistance to exit.
  • In Nova Scotia, 27 men faced charges after a lengthy investigation by the Cape Breton Regional Police in 2015 and were named in a local newspaper. 35 exploited women were identified; 90% were indigenous women; and 12 women received mental health and addiction services.
  • In Alberta, Edmonton police have conducted six stings this year alone, and expect to arrest more than 200 sex buyers.

If other provinces can enforce the law, BC can, too.  So we’re writing letters to VPD Police Chief Palmer to demand he implement the federal legislation supporting exploited women immediately. Will you join in inundating Chief Palmer with letters of supporting this cause? Please click here to learn more about this writing campaign and for tips on how to write a simple letter to the VPD Police Chief.