FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  JUNE 12, 2017

The Standing Committee on Health Ignores the Evidence According to Defend Dignity.

The Federal Standing Committee on Health released the Report on the Public Health Effects of The Ease of Access and Viewing of Online Violent and Degrading Sexually Explicit Material on Children, Women and Men on Friday, June 9, 2017.  Defend Dignity, a national organization that works to end all forms of sexual exploitation in Canada, was one of the 23 witnesses who submitted a Brief to the committee.  

Defend Dignity educates widely on how pornography fuels the demand for paid sex, objectifies women, contributes to rape culture and is also harmful to the health of Canadians, especially children.  As such, we were deeply disappointed in the final report of the committee.  

The Committee ignored most of the overwhelming testimony of expert witnesses:  Dr. Gail Dines, Dr. Mary Anne Layden, Dr. Sharon Cooper, Cordelia Anderson; and Lianna McDonald, Director of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.  In spite of each of these experts clearly stating that education alone is not enough to protect children from the harms of sexually violent images; that the responsibility of protection should NOT rest with parents, the Health Committee recommendations are built almost entirely around education.  

Glendyne Gerrard, Director of Defend Dignity, says “The strength of the evidence the experts provided is critical to creating ways for Canada to reduce the severe harm that pornography poses to children and adults.  We had hoped this report would reflect their recommendations. ”

The Report ignores two thirds of all submissions, including briefs and witness testimony, which strongly stated that meaningful age verification would be an essential way to protect children.   The other top recommendations from the submissions and witnesses included addressing pornography as a public health issue because of societal harms and requiring internet service providers to block porn unless consumers choose to opt in.  Strong examples for meaningful age verification legislation and opt- in at the Internet Service Provider level exist in the United Kingdom, which is a leader in this field.

Defend Dignity calls upon the government  to address these omissions in its response to the Committee’s report, and asks Canadians to join our organization in making the following recommendations:

1.     Establish meaningful age verification for all internet pornography in the same way that age verification is required for cigarette or alcohol purchases so that children are not exposed to its harms.
2.     Require all Canadian Internet Service Providers to filter out porn unless the consumer chooses to opt-in.  Filters are now so precise that there need not be any concern that over-filtering would occur.
3.     Develop a Public Health Awareness Campaign to educate teachers, medical professionals and parents about the harms of pornography.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said “There are issues around pornography and its prevalence now and its accessibility, which I am really wrapping my head around now as a father of kids who are approaching their teen years”.  Defend Dignity agrees with the Prime Minister and invites all Canadians to stand for the rights and protection of children.

Media Inquiries:
Glendyne Gerrard
Director of Defend Dignity
Glendyne.gerrard@cmacan.org
647-462-1858

Mailing Address:
Defend Dignity
30 Carrier Drive, Suite 100
Toronto, ON M9W 5T7
Defend Dignity is a Canadian organization working to end all forms of sexual exploitation in Canada, which includes pornography.
 


Defend Dignity/Family Friendy Wi-Fi Statement on Starbucks Recent Announcement to filter their Public Wi-Fi  – July 22, 2016

Starbucks, thank you for putting the safety of children first by agreeing to filter out harmful sexually violent images from your public Wi-Fi! Once completed, you will join McDonalds and Tim Horton’s as leaders in the food services sector in Canada for having good filtering software on your public Wi-Fi.

We encourage you to quickly implement the necessary filtering so that our children stay safe and predators are stopped. While many parents use safety measures in the home to protect their children from Internet dangers, the parental control safeguards can be easily bypassed by children when using Starbuck’s unfiltered WIFI service, immediately exposing them to Internet dangers.

In addition to the harms to children, adults may also access and freely view pornographic material in Starbucks stores. This behaviour can expose other customers, including children to unwanted sexually explicit images. Also, sexual predators can access child pornography through the current open Wi-Fi in Canadian Starbucks stores.

Today’s internet pornography is misogynistic and violent, fueling rape culture and desensitizing the viewer. Because internet pornography is easily accessible and available, it consequently poses one of the biggest threats to our children’s online safety.

Congratulations Starbucks!

Starbucks Official Statement – July 15, 2016

We are in the process of evaluating a global protocol to address this in all of our company owned stores, and are in active discussions with organizations on implementing the right, broad-based solution that would remove any illegal and other egregious content.

“Once we determine that our customers can access our free wi-fi in a way that also doesn’t involuntarily block unintended content, we will implement this in our stores.

“In the meantime, we reserve the right to stop any behavior that interferes with our customer experience, including what is accessed on our free wi-fi, as part of our commitment to ensuring that our stores remain a safe and welcoming environment”

– Starbucks Spokesperson.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

On International Women's Day, Defend Dignity is calling on Canadians to reject the public accessibility of online sexual violence.

Harmful images depicting hatred, violence and domination of women are increasingly being portrayed online. Such images are readily available and easily accessible by all.

The health and safety of children is at risk when they can readily access these misogynistic images. While strong filters may be in place on home computers, thus keeping unwanted pictures away from curious and impressionable viewers, public Wi-Fi without filters allows children full access.

Defend Dignity has launched the Family Friendly Wi-Fi campaign in an attempt to convince the proprietors of public gathering places to filter their Wi-Fi service.

"We are currently aiming our campaign at Starbucks, because it is a place that families frequent," says Glendyne Gerrard, Director of Defend Dignity. "But we have plans to expand this advocacy effort to include other restaurants and fast food stores in future."

Defend Dignity is calling on Canadians to sign an online petition at familyfriendlywifi.ca, asking Starbucks to put a filter on their public Wi-Fi service in all their Canadian stores.

"Starbucks in the United Kingdom proudly displays the "Friendly Wi-Fi" sign, which means it has been recognized as blocking all Internet sites containing pornography, including child porn," explains Gerrard.

"Starbucks in Canada needs to follow suit. We applaud McDonald's and Tim Hortons in Canada; their good filters keep Canadian children safe from violent images and online predators when using the Internet in their stores."

Defend Dignity acts as a catalyst for individuals and organizations to end sexual exploitation in Canada. Commercial sexual exploitation includes: pornography, strip clubs, escorts, massage parlors and prostitution. All involve the selling of sexual services, which undermine the dignity of women, men and children and are detrimental to a healthy society.

Defend Dignity works to end all sexual exploitation through:

• Raising awareness on the realities of all forms of sexual exploitation through events and resources.
• Aiding individuals, non-profits and faith organizations to come alongside victims and at risk youth, through resources and training.
• Advocacy for law and policy reform.


Contact: Glendyne Gerrard

 T: (416) 674-7878 ext. 243

 E: glendyne.gerrard@cmacan.org

Defend Dignity Statement on Amnesty International's Resolution to Decriminalize Pimps, Brothel Owners, and Buyers of Sex

Toronto, ONAugust 12, 2015  - Yesterday, at its thirty-second International Council Meeting, Amnesty International voted for a resolution that urges governments around the world to adopt laws and policies that endorse the full decriminalization of the sex industry, including pimps, brothel owners, and buyers of sexual services. In so doing, they have ignored the human rights of women, especially the approximate ninety per cent of women who have not chosen prostitution.

While Amnesty speaks of gender equality and human rights, they are in actuality rejecting women’s rights by choosing to side with pimps, traffickers, and sex buyers. In their decision, they have given no heed to the voices of prostituted women, children, and men nor to the voices of survivors and organizations that work on behalf of the sexually exploited around the world.

There is growing evidence and research from countries that have decriminalized and/or legalized prostitution that human trafficking escalates and violence towards sex workers increases. Contrary to what Amnesty International would have you believe, sex workers do not find greater protection, and pimps and traffickers continue to profit while sex buyers remain anonymous.

Prostitution is inherently violent and therefore dangerous. Dr. Melissa Farley, an expert on the harms of prostitution (http://prostitutionresearch.com/), concludes that women in prostitution have a mortality rate forty times higher than unsolicited women. Amnesty should be siding with the prostituted and not with the pimps and purchasers.

Amnesty International has condemned many of the most marginalized around the world to commercial sexual exploitation.

Defend Dignity continues to work to end all commercial sexual exploitation in Canada. We do this  motivated by the fact that each person is made in the image of God; therefore, we believe in the dignity and value of each person and that sexual exploitation is inherently harmful. We continue to stand with all those who are exploited and those who have survived this exploitation.

defenddignity.ca

For Immediate Release, June 7, 2014:

[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.

 

Legalized Prostitution Causes Harm

Defend Dignity’s Response to the Supreme Court Ruling

                                                                                 December 20, 2013

Toronto, ON — Defend Dignity is very disappointed today by the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford. 

Laws are a reflection of societal norms and values. Our hope for Canada is that it be seen as a country where no human being is for sale, and where the value of each person is defended. No one has the right to purchase someone for sexual gratification or abuse, and our laws must reflect this.

Our country’s highest court has failed to uphold the fundamental Charter value of human dignity by striking down our prostitution laws and allowing for the commodification of children, women and men. 

As has been seen in other countries that have decriminalized or legalized prostitution, violence increases, trafficking of foreign women and children into the sex trade escalates and so does organized crime. Canada will no longer be seen as a country that elevates women’s rights and champions gender equality. A separate class of female human beings, especially those who are economically and racially marginalized, will be necessary to satisfy this demand for purchasing sex.  

Defend Dignity calls for Parliament to respond to the Supreme Court ruling by enacting new and better laws based on the legal and social framework of the Nordic Model of law. This model of law is superior to any other prostitution model in place because of its foundational beliefs that prostitution is violence against women and an affront to gender equality. The Nordic model does not tolerate sexual exploitation and therefore criminalizes the purchase of sex as well as the profiting from selling someone for sexual purposes. It also provides social systems that allow women to find the services they need to exit prostitution. Part of the success of the Nordic model is the public awareness component which centres on the core belief that prostitution is violence against women, and the message that prostitution is a dangerous and undesirable pursuit as a buyer or a seller.

Defend Dignity will continue to encourage our Parliamentarians to consider the Nordic Model. We urge you as a citizen of Canada to keep our country free of inequality, violence and exploitation by defending the dignity of all human beings. Please speak to your MP today about the importance of implementing laws which will create a legacy for future Canadians of freedom and dignity for all.

For inquiries click here to contact Glendyne Gerrard

For Immediate Release

June 13, 2013

Today the Supreme Court of Canada heard Bedford v Canada. Canada’s prostitution laws are at stake.  Will the Supreme Court strike down the three provisions pertaining to prostitution laws (living off the avails), (keeping a common bawdy house) and (communicating for the purposes of prostitution)?  While our laws certainly need reform, Defend Dignity sides with our current laws based on the fact that some laws in place are better than no laws.  Defend Dignity is grateful for those who intervened on behalf of this position.  

To strike down our current laws in Canada would mean greater exploitation of women and children and pushing the most vulnerable further to the margins of our society.  It will mean increased trafficking and organized crime.

Most prostituted women in Canada begin as children.  This constitutes child abuse and not prostitution.  Many prostituted women are vulnerable to exploitation because of childhood sexual abuse.  Poverty and homelessness are huge factors in women turning to prostitution.  Prostitution must not be seen as a solution to female poverty.  Sadly, First Nations women are among the most exploited women in Canada.   Prostitution disproportionately affects the lives of Aboriginal women and girls due to the ongoing effects of colonization.

Prostitution stems from, and is fundamentally contrary to, sex equality.   It is a form of male violence against women.  It is the demand for paid sex that fuels trafficking and the commercial sexual exploitation of women and children.

Defend Dignity, along with other abolitionist groups, calls for law reform based on the Nordic model of law.  Defend Dignity will continue to uphold the cause of the oppressed and work to change our laws to reflect this stand.  

As we wait for a ruling from the Supreme Court, it is crucial for every citizen to advocate our members of parliament for a Canadian form of Nordic law.  Join us in informing and asking your MP to make a difference for sexually exploited women and children in Canada.

For more information:

Click here to contact Glendyne Gerrard