International Women’s Day: Pray and Act

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Today is International Women’s Day.  Did you know that you can do something today to help to make a better life for women by considering, and influencing, the prostitution laws in Canada?

The Supreme Court of Canada recently struck down prostitution laws in Canada and the government is currently considering new prostitution legislation.  The Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada and Defend Dignity, an Alliance initiative to end prostitution in Canada, have called for prayer and action to end the modern-day slavery of women in the form of prostitution and human trafficking.  This is not just something that happens across the world; human trafficking is alive and well in Canada!  Click to study Prostitution in Canada, an eye-opening graphic summary of the situation.

We have the opportunity right now to make a difference.  Until March 17, 2014, our government is asking for our input regarding the laws surrounding prostitution in Canada.  This has come about because three provisions of Canada’s Criminal Code, (s. 210 (keeping or being found in a bawdy house), s. 212(1)(j) (living on the avails of prostitution), and s. 213(1)(c) (communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution) ) were struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in December for violating the sex workers’ constitutional right to security of the person.

This is a wonderful opportunity for us, who believe in the intrinsic value of each person, to influence change in our country’s laws.  Both Defend Dignity and SA Foundation (Servants Anonymous) are working toward the same end: a law that criminalizes the purchase of sexual services and provides a way out for those who want it.   Both of these organizations have referenced an approach to laws surrounding prostitution that have been adopted in countries such as Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland, called the Nordic model.  The Nordic model criminalizes the johns and pimps, and decriminalizes the women who sell sex.  In February, Winnipeg MP Joy Smith recommended a Canadian version of the Nordic model, which would include fines and jail time for buyers of sex, mandatory prison terms for pimps and traffickers, and programs for exiting prostitution.

Politically, there are two things you can do to act.  First, go to defenddignity.ca and read the wealth of information there.  Download the MP letter, sign it, and mail it to your Member of Parliament.  (Find your MP here.  Mail may be sent postage-free to an MP at the House of Commons address.)  And, second, participate in the Government of Canada’s questionnaire, found at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/curr-cours/proscons-conspros/index.html .   Defend Dignity’s suggested responses to this questionnaire are below, to help you clarify your response.  You only have until March 17 – don’t delay!

 Beyond that, we need to pray.  Pray for clear and life-affirming laws that recognize the dignity of each individual, and protect  the vulnerable and exploited.  Pray for MP’s like Joy Smith, who has for years taken a stand against human trafficking and exploitation (check out her website).  And pray for the women and girls who are caught in prostitution: that they would sense the love and care of their Heavenly Father, and that they would find a way out of this dangerous and dehumanizing lifestyle.  Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.  Isaiah 59:1

Do something to change a woman’s life today!

 

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.  Rescue the weak and the needy:  deliver them from the hand of the wicked.  Psalm 82:3,4

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.  Proverbs 31:8-9

Defend Dignity suggested responses to Government Questionnaire (used by permission)

 

1.       1.  Do you think that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.

 

 Yes, I believe that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence with no exceptions.  The following reasons explain this view:

 

a.       Prostitution is a form of male violence and sexual exploitation against women. It is a violation of human rights.  It is expressed in acts against individual women, and in systemic ways, affecting primarily women and children.

 

b.       The demand for paid sex is the direct cause of commercial sexual exploitation of women and children, and fuels the trafficking of women and children both within and across our borders.

 

c.        Prostitution stems from, and is fundamentally contrary to, sex equality.

 

d.      Prostitution necessitates a group of women to be available for purchase by men, which is a deterrent to all women’s equality.

 

 

2.       2.  Do you think that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.

I do not believe that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence, with no exceptions.

Prostituted persons should be considered the vulnerable party, exploited by both the procurers and the buyers.  Many women in prostitution are under the control of violent pimps and traffickers.  It is important to motivate persons in prostitution to attempt to exit without risking punishment. Prostituted people are mostly victims of exploitation and should not be criminalized as such.  Criminalizing the women and vulnerable populations being prostituted creates barriers that prevent them from escaping prostitution and entrenches inequality.

3.    3.   If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted? Please explain.

I do not support the purchase of sexual services under any circumstance.  I do not believe that the selling of sexual services should be criminalized.  See answers in #2.

4.    4.   Do you think that it should be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.

Yes, it should be a criminal offence, with no exception, to benefit from the sale of another human being.  No one should be seen as a commodity to be bought or sold for another person’s gratification.  This is a violation of human rights.

Human traffickers and pimps profit from women’s and girls’ economic, social, political and legal subordination. The fact that women who suffer additional oppression, such as racism, are strongly over-represented in the global prostitution industry is clear evidence of this.

I strongly encourage the government to give serious consideration to a Canadian version of the Nordic Model.

5.   Are there any other comments you wish to offer to inform the Government’s response to the Bedford decision?

I strongly encourage the government to give serious consideration to a Canadian version of the Nordic Model.  In summary, this model would:

1.  Target the buyers of sex by criminalizing the purchase of sex resulting in penalties of fines and jail time.

2.  Decriminalize sellers of sex.

3.  Educate the public through a national awareness campaign for all Canadians.

4.  Provide exit programs to assist prostituted people in leaving prostitution.  Immediate needs for trauma counselling, addiction services are a necessity.

5.  Tackle exploitation through a mandatory minimum sentence for procuring to target pimps and traffickers.  Develop regulations that would prevent the advertising of sexual services in print and online.

 

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