I am a neutral Canadian |
I am a neutral Canadian.
That is a confession and probably an apology.
I have started this post a lot of times.
I keep erasing and re-writing, and then erasing again.
There are a whole lot of thoughts running through my head, and no direction for them. So lets see where this takes us…
Prostitution is legal in Canada, but pimping isn’t. Running a brothel is illegal, and so is communicating for the purpose of prostitution.
Last year a judge in Ontario ruled that Canada’s laws around prostitution which make it illegal to solicit clients on the street or in a bar, work as a pimp or operate a brothel, are actually making the situation more dangerous for prostitutes in Canada. Her solution is to make all of those things legal, and thus make it safer for sex workers to operate.
Right now 5 judges are trying to decide if these laws should stay, or if they should go…
Like many Canadians, I have been fairly neutral about the laws and politics of our land. I will engage in a good discussion, and try to vote intelligently. But honestly, I don’t do a lot else.
When I think about the situation of prostitution in Canada. I feel a deep shame. In some ways, we have stayed neutral for far too long.
We have done a disservice to the men and women who engage in the sex industry.
We have turned a blind eye when so many went missing from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
We have arrogantly claimed that sex trafficking does not happen in our country (because this global crime skips Canada and runs rampant everywhere else?)
We haven’t bothered to do anything about the laws around selling sex because until recently it wasn’t on most people’s radar… If we don’t see it, it can’t be that bad.
I am a neutral Canadian,
And I am ashamed.
Today as I sat down to try and write this post, all I could think about is the fact that very soon, pimping may no longer be illegal in Canada and I am partly to blame. I have been a neutral Canadian, hardly giving thought to the situation, or what the best way is to protect those who are most likely to be exploited.
But I do not have an excuse. I know what a pimp is. I know what a pimp can do. I have seen the broken ribs and broken lives he leaves behind. I have heard the anger and hurt in the voice of a pimp justifying her right to sell someone else. I have seen what is left of a woman a pimp dumps on the door of homeless shelter when she isn’t making him enough money anymore.
I saw some of those things just yesterday. I saw the hurt and fear and brokenness on a little body racked with disease after only 5 months of forced prostitution working for a pimp.
And I have seen and heard the same things in Asia, and in Europe. Here in Africa the situation is frighteningly similar to the stories my friend in Australia shares with me. I read a social worker’s blog in America and echoed is the same frustration. All these places have very different laws around prostitution and they often have different names for pimping. But the broken and messy result is the same.
Pimps are usually sex-traffickers. They are often violent and manipulative. They exploit vulnerable people for their own financial gain. They are also broken people, and in their brokenness use the carrot of love, or of belonging, of safety, or of money to gain the trust of a vulnerable person. They control that person until they are no longer useful, and then like a used piece of tissue, that person is discarded.
I can’t be neutral about pimping. It should not be made legal in Canada.
Right now, I urge you to say a prayer for our government. We need laws that are designed specifically for the needs of the Canadian people. Laws that protect the vulnerable, and that shape society into something we can be proud of. These laws can be creative and have elements drawn from other countries, but to simply leave things they way they are, or legalize pimping so that some ‘sex workers can feel comfortable enough to live with their boyfriends,’ would be to once again do a shameful disservice to the very people whom our laws are meant to protect.
I am not claiming that all prostitutes are victims or that human trafficking and prostitution are the same. In my experience, that isn’t true. We all make choices, agree or disagree.
I am saying that we have been silent for to long, we have chosen out of sight out of mind, and have given way to abuse.
Lets not be neutral any longer.
Learn more below (I encourage you to read up and form an opinion, and then feel free to make some comments below, there are a lot of differing opinions, feel free to share yours!)
Articles on Canada’s Prostitution Laws:
Women’s Coalition: Arguments for the abolition of prostitution
National Post Editorial- Fixing our broken prostitution laws
Globe and Mail- Why the courts must decriminalize prostitution
Prostitution Laws Globally:
Nordic Model- Nordic Prostitution Policy Reform
Comparative Study- 9 countries and their Prostitution laws
Feminism and Prostitution- Is prostitution viewed only as violence against women oppressive?
Sex-Trafficking Abolitionists You Should Check Out:
Miss Canada: Tara Teng
Save The Women: Tania Fiollea
Invisible Chains: End Modern Day Slavery (Sex Trafficking in Canada)
Hope For The Sold: www.hopeforthesold.com