Conservative MP Joy Smith likes the Nordic model of prostitution legislation that treats the women and children involved in prostitution as victims.

MP to target market for prostitution, human trafficking

  • August 9, 2011

OTTAWA - Conservative MP Joy Smith plans to introduce five pieces of legislation to combat human trafficking, including a change in prostitution laws to punish men who buy sex, particularly from underage women.

“What I want to do is target the market,” she said.

Though the details of her legislation are embargoed, Smith said she likes the Nordic model that treats the women and children involved in prostitution as victims and criminalizes the men who buy sex or make money off exploiting prostitutes. Penalties could include fines and/or jail time.

The Nordic model was adopted after hard evidence showed the harms that developed in some countries that had tried legalizing prostitution, she said. Legalized prostitution leads to an increase in violence against women, increase in child rape and child pornography, and a rise in human trafficking, she said.

The Catholic Civil Rights League wrote an open letter July 12 to Smith commending her for her plans to combat prostitution in Canada.The League is part of a coalition intervening in an appeal of an Ontario court decision that struck Canada’s existing prostitution laws, the letter said. The coalition is the only group supporting the present Criminal Code provisions.  

“Our argument emphasized that opposition to prostitution is part of the widely shared moral inheritance of Canadians, not a fringe viewpoint held only by the religious,” said executive director Joanne McGarry.

While the current laws are not perfect, the League has intervened because they offer some protection for those who are coerced or exploited, she said.

“Proposals such as yours are an important means of getting such social policy matters back into Parliament, and we commend you for it,” McGarry wrote.

Smith has spearheaded efforts to combat human trafficking in all its forms. Last year her private members’ bill that provided for mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking children under 18 passed into law. She has urged a national strategy involving education, law enforcement, prevention and rehabilitation of victims to combat the growing scourge of human trafficking that remains underreported and disproportionately affects aboriginal youth.

Smith wants to move on prostitution because she sees the use of prostitutes becoming normalized in Canada. She is concerned Canada could lose a generation of young people whose faith and trust in this country’s ability to protect them will be destroyed. She also wants to mount an educational campaign so young people and parents will be trained to protect themselves against the techniques of predators.

She finds efforts to normalize prostitution disturbing. It is disgusting to talk about the sex trade as if it is a profession like hairdressing, she said.  

“It is not normal to victimize children; in other circumstances it would be called child abuse.”

The “Johns,” the people who buy sex from young people, need to know they are exploiting children and engaging in child abuse, she said.  

"They need to be targeted and made aware of the terrible damage and hurt they are doing to women and children.”

Prostitution harms not only those who are forced into it, but hurts the customers’ wives and children and society in general, she said.

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