Long-serving women’s rights advocate fêted

Long-serving women’s rights advocate fêted

Posted: 09/16/2014

To read the article online, click here.

Kim PateA long-serving advocate on behalf of imprisoned women and girls will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LLD) from the Law Society at Friday’s Call to the Bar ceremony in Toronto.

Kim Pate, C.M., who most recently was involved in the inquest into the death of 19-year-old Ashley Smith while Smith was in prison, will receive an LLD honoris causa at the upcoming Roy Thomson Hall ceremony.

“The Law Society is extremely pleased to present this honorary degree to Kim Pate in recognition of her extraordinary advocacy work on behalf of women and girls who have been criminalized or incarcerated,” Treasurer Janet E. Minor said.

“Her work has resulted in positive social change to marginalized women in Canadian society and progressive reforms to the criminal justice system.”

Since 1992, Pate has served as executive director of the Ottawa-based Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, which provide support and advocacy for women and girls who are incarcerated or who have been in prison.

Pate has also been active on matters such as The Arbour Inquiry (1996), which investigated events at the Prison for Women in Kingston, Ontario.

A teacher and a lawyer by training, Pate received her B.Ed P.D.P.P., at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Education (1981) and then earned her LLB from Dalhousie University, Faculty of Law (1984).

In 2007, she received her M.Sc.Dip (Forensic Mental Health) from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia (2007).

Pate was recently appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for her advocacy on behalf of women and girls who are marginalized, victimized or incarcerated, and for her research on women in the criminal justice system (June 2014).

Pate is a part-time common law professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law.

On July 1, she began a one-year term as the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, College of Law.

Pate has acted as a mentor and guide to women and law students, and additionally, served on the advisory board of the National Women’s Legal Mentoring Program (2002-13).

The Law Society confers LLDs, honoris causa, in recognition of outstanding achievements in service and benefit to the legal profession, the rule of law or the cause of justice.

Honorary LLD recipients serve as inspirational keynote speakers for the new lawyers attending the Call ceremonies.

More than 225 new Ontario lawyers will be called to the Bar on Friday.

Press Advisory: 40 years later Prisoners still languish in solitary confinement

Press Advisory – Prisoner Justice Day 2014

PRESS ADVISORY

40 years later

Prisoners still languish in solitary confinement

(Ottawa) August 5, 2014 – This Sunday, August10th, isPrisoners’ Justice Day, a day when prisoners and their supporters honour the memory of the women and men who have died unnatural deaths inside prisons.

August 10th marks the 40th anniversary of the death of Eddie Nalon. Eddie bled to death in solitary confinement in Millhaven Penitentiary, despite attempts to summons guards for assistance. The inquest into his death found that the emergency call buttons in the unit had been  deactivated by the guards. Prisoners at Millhaven honoured Eddie’s memory by a 24 hour fast and work stoppage on the first anniversary of his death.

Forty years later, as the inquest into the death of Ashley Smith revealed, the situation for Canadian prisoners remains a concern.

At a press conference on August, 6, 2014, Kim Pate (Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies), Catherine Latimer (John Howard Society of Canada) and Justin Piché (Criminology Professor, University of Ottawa) will speak about the significance of Prisoners’ Justice Day and the relevant issues for prisoners in 2014.

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Location:    Charles Lynch Room
Time:          11h00
Contacts:     Kim Pate (613-298-2422);
Catherine Latimer (613-219-6471);
Justin Piché (613-793-1093)

Report on Prison Overcrowding

The preliminary results of the prison overcrowding report for women is available now.

Please click for the summary: Preliminary results – CAEFS Québec

Press Advisory: Women are not for Sale

24 March 2014 (Ottawa): Women are not for Sale (PDF here)

Press Advisory
Women are not for Sale

Ottawa, March 24th 2014 – In December 2013 the Supreme Court of Canada found portions of the criminal laws relating to prostitution unconstitutional and held that the declaration of invalidity was suspended for 12 months to give Parliament an opportunity to put new laws in place. Parliament must respond to this decision in 2014 in a manner consistent with its constitutional and international obligations to protect and promote the equality of women.

We are organizations with decades of experience advocating for the rights of women in Canada. Our member organizations (listed below) provide front line crisis and anti-violence services, representation and advocacy for women and girls who are or have been prostituted, who are criminalized and incarcerated in relation to prostitution, who are trying to escape prostitution, who are targeted for prostitution, and who have been subject to male violence, including prostitution.

Our organizations came together as the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution to intervene in the constitutional challenge and to assert publicly, based on our knowledge and experience, that prostitution is a system of discrimination on the basis of sex, race, poverty and Indigeneity, and a practice of violence against women.

We are deeply concerned that the Supreme Court’s decision, while recognizing that women in prostitution face severe danger and limited choices, has the effect of decriminalizing the very johns and profiteers who are the source of the harms and exploitation. We believe that is contrary to the human rights of all women to allow the buying of women’s bodies with impunity and the ability of third parties to profit from that sale. Experience tells us that decriminalizing the demand for prostitution will increase that demand substantially. To meet that demand, the most vulnerable are targeted, including youth, Aboriginal women and girls, and trafficked women.

The Women’s Coalition endorses a legal and public policy approach to prostitution that has the following three essential components:

• strategies to discourage the demand for prostitution, including public education;
• decriminalization of prostituted persons and criminalization of johns and pimps (with a range of possible sentences); and
• comprehensive supports to provide women with real alternatives to prostitution including funding for exit programs.

The following members of the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution and allies will be present to speak with the members of the media:
Members of the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution:
Native Women’s Association of Canada
Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
Action ontarienne contre la violence faites aux femmes
Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter
Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel
Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle
Sextrade 101
Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution
EVE – Formerly exploited voices now educating

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For additional information please contact:

Kim Pate, CAEFS – 1-800-637-4606 – kpate@web.ca
Claudette Dumont-Smith, NWAC – 1-800-461-4043 – cdumontsmith@nwac.ca

Jury rules Ashley Smith’s Death a Homicide

On December 19, 2013, the coroner’s inquest jury ruled that Ashley Smith’s death was a homicide.

Read the verdict and the jury’s recommendations here.

Read the letter from CAEFS to the Minister of Public Safety regarding the recommendations here.

See more information about the Ashley Smith Inquest.

Equality-Seeking Women’s Groups continue to demand a Change in Prostitution Laws

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.

Media Contact:

Ottawa – Kim Pate – 613-298-2422, kpate@web.ca

Montreal – Diane Matte – 514 503-7754 / 514 692-4762, diane.matte@lacles.org

Vancouver – Hilla Kerner – 604-872-8212, hillak@rapereliefshelter.bc.ca

Professor Janine Benedet – lawyer for the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution – benedet@law.ubc.ca

Factum of the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution

Joint Statement Regarding Report Following a Public Interest Investigation into the Conduct of RCMP Members in Nova Scotia in Respect of Matters Involving Nicole (Ryan) Doucet; Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act Subsection 45.43(1)

DOWNLOAD PDF of JOINT STATEMENT

July 11, 2013 – The Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies(CAEFS) are disappointed with the findings of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP Report released on July 10, for its failure to grasp the realities of the lives of abused women such as Nicole Doucet.

In his report, Interim Chair Ian McPhail, Q.C., states that: “the Commission’s mandate is not to determine whether or not Ms. Doucet was a victim of violence at the hands of Mr. Ryan“, yet he concludes that: “it is apparent that there was no information conveyed by her at any time that would indicate that she was a victim of abuse.” We strongly disagree with this assessment, which ignores critical facts and simply reinforces the police position.

The report repeatedly claims that Ms. Doucet did not report the abuse to the police officers who asked her for evidence of abuse, yet the report also acknowledges that: “Over a period of several years, Ms. Doucet made many calls to police with a variety of complaints, interacted with Victim Services, went through custody proceedings, and dealt with the military police.”

Among those interactions with police the report also acknowledges that Ms. Doucet had reported in 2007 that Mr. Ryan had threatened to burn down the house, had a history of violence, access to firearms, was formerly in the military and that she feared for her safety, particularly as they were undergoing a separation. After that report, Ms. Doucet was referred to Victims Services, which was an appropriate response by the RCMP, but Mr. McPhail fails to connect this report to any of the other reports made by Ms. Doucet.

Unfortunately, it appears that Mr. McPhail did not have the benefit of expert testimony on spousal abuse, as did the trial judge, Justice Farrar of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, in this matter. The judge accepted the evidence from several expert witnesses who stated that victims of abuse may not be forthcoming about the circumstances of that abuse. It is common for women in abusive relationships to deny the abuse when questioned by outsiders.

Further, McPhail omits to refer to the report accepted into evidence by Justice Farrar of a Victims Services clinical social worker with 37 years of experience. The social worker treated Ms. Doucet on nine occasions, documented the abuse described by Ms. Doucet and recommended that the RCMP provide a panic button to Ms. Doucet. Mr. McPhail found that it was reasonable for the RCMP to deny the request, and discounts the evidence provided to the Commission investigator by an RCMP officer who stated that the supervisor who denied the request was biased in favour of Mr. Ryan. In fact, the report notes that the supervisor had called Crown counsel in an attempt to modify the custody order so that Mr. Ryan would have access to the couple’s daughter. Justice Farrar accepted the evidence of the social worker as consistent with that of Ms. Doucet that she felt a real fear for her safety and the safety of her daughter.

Mr. McPhail cites an exchange between Ms. Doucet and the Commission investigator that graphically attests to the helplessness of an abused spouse. Ms. Doucet tells the investigator that she does not know how to respond when she is asked if she was ever physically abused: “What is holding a gun to my head? Is that physical abuse? There is no physical contact there…. what is that line that determines, you know, being pinned up against the wall, having my throat squeezed, what is it in the law book?” She states that she feels that no one would believe her, and describes the shame of being in an abusive relationship, noting that she expected the response would be: “Were you that dumb? Come on! Are you that stupid? Aren’t you an educated woman? You look fine to me!

Counsel for LEAF/CAEFS in our intervention in R. v. Ryan at the Supreme Court of Canada, Professor Emeritus Christine Boyle, Q.C., states: “Ms. Doucet testified at her trial. There was a full opportunity to cross-examine her and call police officers to contradict her testimony at that trial. The trial judge, after explicitly finding corroboration, believed her completely. I am concerned that the McPhail report does not grapple with whether there are any lessons to be learnt about how the police respond to women seeking protection. What do abused women have to say to trigger vigorous police investigations, such as sting operations, when they seek such protection?”

Mr. McPhail has exonerated the RCMP for its inaction regarding Ms. Doucet’s plight, but he has done so largely by accepting the evidence of the RCMP members themselves – with the exception of the one RCMP member who complained about the RCMP’s lack of response. We are concerned that Mr. McPhail ignored evidence that showed a longstanding pattern of anger and abusive behavior by Mr. Ryan, stretching back to his conviction for an unprovoked assault on another man in 1996, and his conviction in a road rage incident, in which he broke the back window and left mirror of another driver’s vehicle in March 2007.

We echo the call by Ms. Doucet’s lawyer for better collaboration between the RCMP and Victim Services – while the RCMP was correct to refer Ms. Doucet to Victim Services, the RCMP then failed to act on recommendations by the Victim Services social worker, and failed to consider the incident that prompted the referral in any of their later dealings with Ms. Doucet. It is apparent to us that police policies for effective response to reports from women who fear their partners may be ineffective if the police are incapable of conducting effective interviews of women who may be distraught and terrified. The police now know of the evidence accepted by Justice Farrar, including his findings of corroboration, and should accept that they have missed opportunities to effectively explore the concerns of a woman living in a reign of terror. We hope such opportunities are not missed for other women, yet the report does not hold out any hope for correcting these errors.

We reiterate the Supreme Court’s concerns that: “There is also the disquieting fact that, on the record before us, it seems that the authorities were much quicker to intervene to protect Mr. Ryan than they had been to respond to [Ms. Doucet’s] request for help in dealing with his reign of terror over her.”

As Kim Pate of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies asserts: “It is outrageous. This report reconfirms that, far too often, women who experience violence cannot rely upon the state to protect them. Implicit in these findings are the discriminatory attitudes that women should not be believed when they report abuse, and that the police may be justified in blaming those whom they fail to protect. Women should not be deputized and essentially told to protect themselves and their children; and they most certainly should not be criminalized when they act to do so.”

About Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS) 

CAEFS is an association of self-governing, community-based Elizabeth Fry Societies that work with and for women and girls in the justice system, particularly those who are, or may be, criminalized. Together, Elizabeth Fry Societies develop and advocate the beliefs, principles and positions that guide CAEFS. The association exists to ensure substantive equality in the delivery and development of services and programs through public education, research, legislative and administrative reform, regionally, nationally and internationally. For more information please visit: www.caefs.ca

About Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)  
LEAF is the only women’s organization in Canada, founded in 1985, committed to confront all forms of discrimination through legal action, public education and law reform to achieve equality for women and girls under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. By intervening in cases, LEAF helps the courts interpret the meaning of equality as it relates to women’s lives. For more information please visit: www.leaf.ca

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For more information please contact:

Kim StantonLegal DirectorWomen’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF)Phone: 416.595.7170 x 223

E-mail: k.stanton@leaf.ca

Kim PateExecutive DirectorCanadian Association of Elizabeth Fry SocietiesPhone: 613.238.2422

Email: kpate@web.ca

 

LEAF is a national, non-profit organization committed to confront all forms of discrimination through legal action,
public education, and law reform to achieve equality for women and girls under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution: Present Before the Court, Outside the Court, and Every Day for Women’s Equality

Download PDF of Press Release

Coalition Banner - EN

For immediate release
June 13, 2013

The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution: Present Before the Court, Outside the Court, and Every Day For Women’s Equality

Ottawa, Ont. — The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution (the Coalition) is an alliance of seven national, provincial and local women’s groups that count prostituted women among their membership, decision-making structures, and participants. Today, as the Supreme Court of Canada hears Bedford v. Canada, the Coalition reaffirms its ongoing commitment to defending women’s equality rights.

This commitment is articulated today by the Coalition’s lawyers, Janine Benedet and Fay Faraday, before the Supreme Court of Canada to argue a third legal avenue. This process calls for the decriminalization of women who are trapped in prostitution and the maintenance of laws criminalizing the men who buy, sell, and exploit women’s bodies: the pimps, johns, and traffickers. “Prostitution is a practice of inequality. Most of the buyers of prostitution in Canada are men, and the majority of those prostituted are women and girls. They are victims, even before arriving in prostitution, of different forms of systemic inequality stemming from, for example,  their Aboriginal background, race, poverty, age, disabilities, and immigrant status,” stated Michèle Audette of the Native Women’s Association of Canada. “So, it is imperative that Canada take a stand to punish those who profit from these types of inequality, and to protect women.” “It is also crucial, adds Jacqueline Gullion from the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, that women in prostitution be provided with strategies and supports to be able to leave prostitution.”

The Coalition’s commitment is also evident in the presence of dozens of its members and supporters who have come from across Canada to the steps of the Supreme Court bearing the message “Criminalize pimps and johns, not women.”  “It’s important to send a clear message to the public and to our elected representatives who will have to legislate after the Court’s ruling. In criminalizing prostituted women, the State is punishing women for their sexual exploitation” remarked Diane Matte, of Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle. “The law must not reinforce or pretend to benignly allow the continued inequality of women, nor the extraordinary degree of danger faced by women who are prostituted. We must decriminalize the women, but never condone the actions of the men who presume to be able to buy and sell women and girls,” stressed Kim Pate, of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

“We want more than prostitution for women” says Hilla Kerner of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. “We want safety, equality and liberty for ourselves and for all women and we will keep fighting until we win it”. The Coalition’s commitment to fight for a more just society will not stop today, when the hearing is over. The “We Want More for Women” campaign will carry on after today to raise public awareness and sensitize elected officials. Because women’s poverty, limited options, and lack of genuine choice are important factors with regard to women’s entry into prostitution, and often, obstacles to getting out, the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution will also continue calling for government investment in communities, a guaranteed liveable income, adequate and affordable housing, and universally accessible health and childcare services.

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 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.

http://www.abolitionprostitution.ca/

Media contacts:

Éliane Legault-Roy, 514-692-4762, eliane.legault-roy@lacles.org
Claudette Dumont-Smith, 613-722-3033 extension 223, cdumontsmith@nwac.ca
Hilla Kerner 604-872-8212 hillak@rapereliefshelter.bc.ca
Kim Pate, 613-298-2422, kpate@web.ca

Press Release: Supreme Court Misses Opportunity to Ensure Law Protects Abused Women

Download PDF of Press Release

January 21, 2013 (Ottawa) – The Supreme Court of Canada has released its decision in R.v. Ryan. CAEFS intervened in the case, in coalition with LEAF, to argue that battered women who take steps to use force against their abusers in order to save their and their children’s lives, are entitled to criminal law defences.

The Court has held that the defence of duress does not apply but has ordered a stay of proceedings. Thus Ms Ryan does not have to endure further prosecution.

CAEFS‐LEAF had argued that the law should reflect an understanding of the realities of the lives of abused women. In ordering a stay of proceedings, the court noted the “enormous toll” of the abuse Ms Ryan suffered:

“the abuse which she suffered at the hands of Mr. Ryan took an enormous toll on her, as, no doubt, have these protracted proceedings, extending over nearly five years, in which she was acquitted at trial and successfully resisted a Crown appeal in the Court of Appeal. There is also the disquieting fact that, on the record before us, it seems that the authorities were much quicker to intervene to protect Mr. Ryan than they had been to respond to her request for help in dealing with his reign of terror over her.”

Unfortunately, while the SCC says the case is exceptional, there is good reason to believe it is not. “Every six days a woman in Canada is killed by an intimate partner. Repeatedly those deaths have been tied to inaction or inappropriate action on the part of the criminal justice system. The Canadian government has unmet obligations under international law to show due diligence in protecting women from sexist violence.” advised Lee Lakeman, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC). “Women escaping abuse are entitled to defend against their attackers and the law must change to ensure that they are not criminalized for acting in their life threatening desperation”, continued Ms Lakeman.

While the stay ends the prosecution of one woman, unfortunately the Court’s analysis of criminal defences does not hold out hope for the evolution of defences generally. The Court focuses on a doctrinal analysis and some clarification of defences, but does not address concerns that they fail to capture the diversity of human experiences to which they need to be applied. “The overall message I get from the decision is that of a wish for conceptual stability in the law of defences and a preference for constitutional challenge or legislative change over the evolution of the common law. This contrasts dramatically with the wish of CAEFS‐LEAF for equality‐driven evolution of the law of defences, to avoid the criminalization of women driven to resisting abuse,” commented Christine Boyle Q.C., counsel for CAEFS‐LEAF.

Background

Nicole Ryan, suffered a 15 year “reign of terror”. Her account of abuse, fear and efforts to seek help was accepted by the trial court in Nova Scotia and her acquittal on a charge of counselling to commit murder was unanimously upheld by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal ‐ she was sexually and physically assaulted, emotionally and psychologically abused, threatened repeatedly with a gun and told by her husband that if she ever left, he would “kill”, “destroy” and “annihilate” Ms Ryan and their daughter. These threats were often morbidly graphic. Mr. Ryan threatened to burn their home down with Ms Ryan and their daughter in it and showed Ms Ryan the piece of land where he said he would dig a trench and bury them under a pile of gravel and garbage. Ms Ryan is a mere 5’3” and 115 pounds, to Mr. Ryan’s 6’3” and 230 pounds.

When Ms Ryan was finally able to leave, the evidence at trial was that even though Mr. Ryan lived a two‐hour drive away, he showed up on the road to and from her place of work, and outside her sister’s home where she was living. Ms Ryan contacted the police and victim services a dozen times, but according to the Court, her pleas for help “went unheeded”. Isolated, terrified and without options, Ms Ryan sought protection. The charge of counselling came after she was approached by an undercover police officer, who posed as a hit‐man.

Jennifer Tomaszewski, speaking on behalf of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund, said: “Violence against women remains a critical issue today. We remain committed to advocating on behalf of women and articulating the equality concerns raised in cases such as R.v.Ryan. We are concerned that, read in the context of the very recent decision in R.v.O’Brien, much work remains.”

Christine Boyle QC is counsel for CAEFS‐LEAF.

The CAEFS‐LEAF factum can be downloaded at: http://leaf.ca/legal-issues-cases-and-law-reform/active-cases/

For more information, please contact:

Kim Pate – 613‐298‐2422

Christine Boyle – 604‐738‐0570

Kim Stanton – 416‐595‐7170

Lee Lakeman – 604‐417‐0028

Press Release: National Coalition of Equality Seeking Women’s Groups WANTS MORE FOR WOMEN

Download Press Release in PDF

OTTAWA) March 8, 2013 – On International Women’s Day and every day, women across Canada and around the world should be free from slavery, violence, inequality, and exploitation. The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution [“the Coalition”], a pan-Canadian coalition of equality-seeking women’s groups speaks out against women’s continued exploitation through prostitution and urges Canada to denounce the exploitation and sale of women’s bodies.

The Coalition launches their “We Want More for Women” campaign today to draw attention to the lived reality of women who are trafficked and prostituted.

“Prostitution is violence against women”, said Diane Matte of the Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle [la CLES]. “It exists because of racism, capitalism, colonialism and women’s inequality. Women coping with very limited choices are harmed by prostitution and will be further harmed by the decriminalization of this misogynist industry and commercialization of their bodies.”

“Our efforts must be for all the women of the world who are rendered vulnerable to prostitution/trafficking not only by individual men, but especially by systemic violence and oppression. There is no choice without options,” says Michèle Audette, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada [NWAC]. “Aboriginal women are overrepresented in prostitution. Poverty, dislocation, disconnection to their people and communities and overall marginalization within society all speak to their particular vulnerability to this violence and exploitation.”

Hilla Kerner, of the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers (CASAC) states: “We want more than prostitution for women. We want the Canadian state to provide liveable income to women so they don’t need to resort to prostitution and we want men who are buying and pimping women to be held accountable.”

“We denounce the buying and selling of women and children by men, as well as the criminalization of women who are stuck in prostitution”, said Candice Pilgrim of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies. “Too many of the women we know do not have access to adequate incomes, education, or even social assistance. Most have been victimized as children and young women and their attempts to anaesthetize themselves from such realities render them vulnerable to yet more violence. No woman should have to sell her body in order to pay for housing or feed her children.”

The Coalition urges Canadians to speak out for women’s substantive equality through community resources, guaranteed liveable income, opportunity for education, access to support, et cetera, NOT through the decriminalization of the sale of their bodies for profit.page1image22528

The members of the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution:

Vancouver: CASAC/ACCCACS – Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres/ Association canadienne des centres contre le viol

Vancouver: Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter

Ottawa: NWAC – Native Women’s Association of Canada

Ottawa: CAEFS – Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies

Ottawa: AOcVF – Action ontarienne contre la violence faite aux femmes

Montreal: RQCALACS – Regroupement québécois des centres d’aide et de lutte contre les agressions à caractère sexuel

Montreal: CLES – Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle

Media Contacts:
Diane Matte, 514-750-4536, diane.matte@lacles.org
Claudette Dumont-Smith, 613-722-3033 X 223, cdumontsmith@nwac.ca
Hilla Kerner, 604 872 8212, hillak@rapereliefshelter.bc.ca
Candice Pilgrim, 613 866 6875, cpilgrim@caefs.ca