Conservative MP Joy Smith, who has led Canada’s campaign against human trafficking, is urging Canada to adopt the Nordic model to combat prostitution. This targets the users of prostitution, the johns, pimps and traffickers, and does not further victimize the women or children who are caught in the sex trade. CNS phot

Christian groups seek end to prostitution

By 
  • March 7, 2012

OTTAWA - As a battle over Canada’s prostitution laws wends its way through the courts, some Christian groups are campaigning to abolish prostitution.

Last year, an Ontario judge struck down Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional, agreeing with the prostitutes who brought the case that the present laws endanger their security of person, forcing them to work on the streets or unable to seek help from police. The decision is under appeal.

“What we have in this window is an opportunity for Parliament to craft better laws that will affirm the dignity and value of all Canadian women,” Evangelical Fellowship of Canada policy analyst Julia Beazley told an information session at an Ottawa church March 1.

Beazley stressed legalizing and regulating prostitution or decriminalizing it altogether will not protect women. Though it has been argued legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution will get women off the streets, it is not the location that endangers them, she said.  

“It’s the violent johns, pimps and traffickers who prey on them.”

She described prostitution as a “dangerous and tangled web that includes human trafficking, massage parlors, strip clubs and pornography.” Toughening laws against human trafficking will not be enough if prostitution is not addressed, she said.

Conservative MP Joy Smith, who has led Canada’s campaign against human trafficking, is urging Canada to adopt the Nordic model to combat prostitution. This targets the users of prostitution, the johns, pimps and traffickers, and does not further victimize the women or children who are caught in the sex trade. In the 10 years since it was adopted, rates of prostitution have been cut by 50 per cent, Smith said. Countries such as the Netherlands, on the other hand, which legalized prostitution, have experienced a major upswing in organized crime and trafficking, she said.

But changing the laws is not enough. Women and children leaving the sexual exploitation need help to rehabilitate their lives, she said. Changing laws is only one piece of a national action plan to end trafficking and exploitation of women and children.  

“There is no justice in laws that serve mainly to further victimize the victims,” Beazley said. “There is not justice in normalizing and legitimizing abuse and exploitation.”

For Defend Dignity founder Glendyne Gerrard, her commitment to end prostitution began as the Holy Spirit began making passages in the Bible concerning justice leap out from the page.

“I realized that God was much more interested in the poor, marginalized and oppressed than I was,” she said. “Show me who it is you want me to show justice to.”

After moving to Regina and volunteering to work at the local food bank, she met her first prostitute. She also met Trisha Baptie, who was a prostitute in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and who had worked alongside many of mass murderer Robert Pickton’s victims. She invited Baptie to come and speak at a church event. Gerrard said she sat and wept when she heard the stories, especially concerning those of First Nations women. She resolved to do what she could to help and “Defend Dignity was born.”

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