For immediate release
December 20, 2013
Equality-Seeking Women’s Groups continue to demand a Change
in Prostitution Laws[Ottawa, Ontario] The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution—a pan-Canadian coalition of equality-seeking women’s groups—received the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision regarding the nation’s prostitution laws with mixed feelings.
The coalition argued before the court that because the vast majority of women enter prostitution due to conditions of economic, social and racial inequality; laws that criminalize women involved in prostitution must be removed. However, laws that prevent men from buying, selling and profiting from women involved in prostitution are important protections that must be retained.
Diane Matte, of Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle said: “What we know about prostitution is that women are brought into prostitution due to lack of choices in their lives, lack of resources or sheer poverty, a history of sexual violence, or simply the “normalization” of the sex trade. Then they are trapped. The government has to prevent sexual exploitation and criminalize the buying of sexual acts. This is the only realistic option to ensure ‘security’ for women.”
“We are critical of The Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the laws with no differentiation between the women in prostitution and the men who are buying sexual services.” stated Jacqueline Gullion from the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres. “As interveners we argued that the extraordinary level of danger that women in prostitution face comes from johns, brothel owners, pimps and profiteers who enforce and demand male sexual access to women’s bodies. The decriminalization of these men will not protect prostituted women.”
The coalition will continue the We Want More for Women campaign in order to press the Canadian parliament to bring forward a comprehensive legislative scheme that reflects the values of dignity and equality. They will encourage Canada to follow Sweden, France and other countries that have prevented men from buying sexual services while providing economic security to women that will protect them from resorting to prostitution.
Members of the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution: Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter, Native Women’s Association of Canada, Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes, Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions caractère sexual, and Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle.
Ottawa – Kim Pate – 613-298-2422, [email protected]
Montreal – Diane Matte – 514 503-7754 / 514 692-4762, [email protected]
Vancouver – Hilla Kerner – 604-872-8212, [email protected]
Professor Janine Benedet – lawyer for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution – [email protected]