Quick Links to MYC National Updates related to Prostitution:
November 5th, 2014 – Prostitution Law Passes Through the Senate
December 10th, 2014 – Special Letter From Joy Smith Re Resistance To New Prostitution Law
August 8th, 2014 – Update on Prostitution Legislation
July 14th, 2014 – Important Action Needed On Prostitution Legislation
March 28th, 2014 – Update on Forthcoming Prostitution Law
February 19th, 2014 – The Government of Canada Asking For Canadians Advice On New Prostitution Laws
February 17th, 2014 – Update on Canada’s Prostitution Law Strike Down
In past decades, Canadian laws pertaining to sex work have revolved mainly around prostitution being legal and most activities related to it being illegal. For example, prior to 2013 it was illegal to operate a brothel or offer sex services from fixed indoor locations, to profit from another’s prostitution or to communicate for the purpose of prostitution in public.
In the famous Canada v. Bedford Supreme Court case, federal and provincial governments argued that prostitution was harmful to the community and inherently dangerous to sex workers, whereas the applicants from the sex trade argued that it was Canada’s laws on prostitution which in fact made it more dangerous for those who worked in the industry. As a result of this court case and proceeding hearings the Supreme Court of Canada struck down prostitution laws in 2013 as unconstitutional, charging the government with the creation of new laws surrounding prostitution.
The Nordic Model:
Past Member of Parliament Joy Smith wrote an important article called, “The Tipping Point”, which advocated for the Nordic Model in Canada. In the article she explained that a 2007 study found that 1,790 men and 1,536 women were charged with prostitution offences in Canada. From these numbers, only 22% of the men were convicted compared to 60% of the women. In 2012, this rate remained almost unchanged. The Nordic Model focuses on bringing rehabilitation to the women, and targeting the johns and pimps instead. The logic is that when we have a decrease in demand then the supply will decrease inadvertently.
This model has a 3-pronged approach:
1. A national awareness campaign to educate the public that the purchase of sexual services is harmful to women and vulnerable populations,
2. Offers support programs for those trying to exit prostitution,
3. Explicitly criminalizes the purchase of sexual services, while decriminalizing the prostitutes.
The Nordic Model was first initiated in Sweden in 1999. Its policies were so successful that many countries started following suit including Norway, Iceland, Israel, and France. In the first five years, the number of women involved in street prostitution dropped by 30-50% and has not increased since. It has also seen a positive effect in preventing human trafficking for sexual purposes in the country.
In 2014, Justice Minister Peter MacKay announced that his department would attempt to pass Bill C-36, a “Canadian version” of the Nordic Model which focuses on criminalizing the purchasers, pimps and perpetrators of prostitution rather than the prostitutes themselves. This bill was passed to law in November of 2014. It changed the industry of sex work so that it criminalized the act of buying sex, going after the buyers of sex services rather than the prostitutes themselves. It also made it illegal for sex workers to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas, such as newspapers, and for a person to obtain material benefit from the sale of the sexual services of another (protects against pimps or human trafficking). Click here to read our update about this law’s passing.
Peter MacKay on Bill C-36, New Prostitution Law
Joy Smith on Prostitution in Canada
Following the Application of C-36:
Supporters of bill C-36 argue that it protects sex workers and allows those who are truly choosing the business for themselves to continue to work without harm, encouraging open access between them and police for dialogue regarding human trafficking. However, sex workers claim that the law has forced the industry to go underground making their work more dangerous overall. It is said that there is a lack of law enforcement around prostitution and police departments have indicated little or no change to how they deal with this issue since the application of Bill C-36. MacKay’s successor, Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould has indicated possible continued changes to the bill, saying recently, “It’s definitely something that we will be looking at, and [I] look forward to having more discussions and advising [about] our next steps.”
Stats Regarding Prostitution In Canada:
~ The average age of women in prostitution varies from 22-26, most beginning their careers between the ages of 16-20 (The Canadian Encyclopedia, 2011).
~ In the 1990’s, it was reported that violence against sex workers increased dramatically – including kidnapping, rape and murder.
~ Out of 100 Canadian women in prostitution:
~ 67% had been threatened with a weapon in prostitution
~ 91% had been physically assaulted
~ 76% had been raped in prostitution with 67% being raped more than 5 times – how is this a career of choice when woman are being raped (having sex without consent, without a choice)
~ 67% had pornography made of them in prostitution
~ 74% suffer from PTSD
~ 95% of prostitutes say they want to leave the industry
~ 82% want treatment for drug/alcohol addictions
~ 67% asked for job training
~ 66% desire a home or place of safety
November 9th, 2015 – Maclean’s – Prostitution laws could be changed further under Liberals
January 2nd, 2015 – Hamilton Spectator – New prostitution law cutting down business, sex workers say
September 9th, 2014 – CBC News – Peter MacKay insists new prostitution bill will protect sex workers
July 15th, 2014 – Globe and Mail – Canada’s New prostitution laws: Everything you need to know
February 2014 – Joy Smith – The Tipping Point
February 20th, 2014 – The Sun – Nordic Model Best for Prostitution Law
February 13th, 2014 – Ottawa Citizen – Punish the clients, not the prostitutes, says Tory MP Joy Smith
December 20th, 2013 – CBC News – Supreme Court strikes down Canada’s prostitution laws
What You Can Do:
1. PRAY: Please join us in praying that sex workers and Canadians in general would develop a heart for righteousness so that the industry of prostitution would be abolished. In the meantime, please pray for our government to have wisdom and discernment regarding how to best protect lives and punish buyers of prostitution.
2. E-MAIL: Please email your MP and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould to express your support in the maintenance of strict laws governing the industry of sex work, particularly in light of Wilson-Raybould’s indication that changes to current laws are in works.