For Immediate Release, June 7, 2014: Response to Prostitution Legislation

[TORONTO] Defend Dignity applauds the Justice Department of the Government of Canada for the release of Bill C – 36  Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

Bill C- 36 is a critical first step in changing the paradigm of how prostitution is addressed in Canada, in law, in policy, and ultimately, in public attitude. 

The Preamble to the legislation conveys clearly that prostitution is harmful to individuals and communities, that it needs to be discouraged and that human dignity must be protected.  It identifies that the purchase of sex creates a demand for prostitution and is therefore prohibited.

The proposed law has the following objectives:

·         Reducing the demand for sexual services.

·         Protecting those who sell their sexual services from exploitation; and

·         Protecting communities from the harms caused by prostitution

Bill C-36 recognizes the multiple challenges that prostituted people experience and their vulnerability to exploitation.  The intent of the legislation is to protect them from exploitation and not to hold them criminally responsible.   We believe there is work to be done to safeguard that intent, but applaud the recognition that prostituted people need protection.  This Bill has moved Canada from seeing prostitutes as not having worth in our society and most often criminalized, to recognizing that they are vulnerable, with the purchaser needing to be criminalized.

The law sets society on a course to shape behaviour and norms.  Bill C-36, with its focus on the criminalization of the purchase of sex, will now help shape the way boys and men treat girls and women.  It sends a strong message that it is never OK to purchase another human being for sexual services.   We believe this will lead to a Canada where all women will be treated with dignity and equality.

Defend Dignity will continue to stand for justice for prostituted people in Canada.  We look forward to Bill C-36 becoming law.