GG: That really is the face of it. It’s any man. I think people
often think it’s the Robert Picktons and the guys who lurk
in dark alleys. It’s any man. We use the statistic of one in
nine men in Canada buys sex. That’s a statistic we found
from the journalist Victor Malarek [author of The Natashas:
The New Global Sex Trade (Penguin Canada, 2004) and The
Johns: Sex for Sale and the Men Who Buy It (Arcade Publishing, 2011). I’ve got a number of survivor friends. They tell me
it is the dads with the three car seats in
the van, to the judge, to the policeman.
It can be anybody.
FT: So how did a nice minister’s wife
get so involved in this issue?
GG: It started with my own engage-
ment with God’s Word. Fifteen years
ago we were pastoring in an affluent
prairie church. As I read verses on jus-
tice issues, I realized God was getting
a hold of my heart. I started praying Micah 6: 8 pretty much
every day and asking God who was out there. At the time,
that wasn’t part of my day to see “those types of people.”
A few years after that we moved to Regina. I pored over
a whole bunch of books. Within a couple of weeks, I read
that a food shelter was looking for volunteers in the office.
That’s where I met a prostitute for the first time. I started to
pray. I embraced the challenge. God said in my ear, “This is
who you’ve been praying about for ten years.”
FT: The Church seems to be adjusting its take on the issue
of prostitution. It feels like we’ve moved from seeing
women as “bad” to the prostituted woman as the victim.
A shift from an issue of morality to one of justice. Is this
GG: It’s about knowledge. Our audience is church people.
When people come to understand the face of prostituted
women in our country, they move to compassion. The number one reason a woman is in prostitution is poverty. And
that becomes a huge factor as to why she can’t get out. Most
girls who start are 12 or 13 years old. People who are working on the front lines tell us there are now girls as young as
seven or eight. That’s not child prostitution, that is child
sexual abuse. What kid is making a choice at that age?
FT: Is sexual abuse in the past a common reality?
GG: I don’t know of any prostituted woman who would say
FT: How do we help the Church move to a place of actively
that it hadn’t been a part of their background. They have
come to see themselves as good for nothing else. Sexual
abuse and poverty both factor in. It has become the only
bit of income they get. They don’t have an education. How
do you put it on a résumé to get a regular job? First Nations
women are the face of prostitution in Canada. You’ve got
all those factors of colonization and racism.
GG: When the Church realizes these women are really oppressed and vulnerable, than I choose to believe the Church
will act. I think we are turning a big corner on church engagement on this. They are seeing it as a Canadian issue, in
FT: For the Nov/Dec issue of Faith
Today, we trailed Christian workers doing outreach to prostituted
women. There was evidence of a
lot of addiction. What role does
GG: It can work two ways. Sometimes it can be when the pimp tries
to get the girl completely dependent
on him. So, she doesn’t enter it addicted, but that becomes a
part of it. It’s another form of exploitation. Some gals are addicted because it’s the only coping method to endure what
they are enduring. Prostituted women in our country have a
mortality rate 40 per cent higher than the national average.
Addiction is another trap.
FT: How do you help women get out?
GG: There has to be a group or an individual who under-
stands the factors that have kept her there, and come along-
side and say, “We are here to help you financially.”
They have to recognize this won’t happen overnight.
By this time the woman probably has children. She will
need help. Some have criminal records and don’t qualify for
welfare. How can she support herself and her kids unless
someone says, “We will help support you.”
There’s got to be some way they can make income. And
with addiction there has to be someone standing beside
them as they go through rehab.
I truly believe as a Christ follower that their encounters
with Jesus come from being with a group of Christ followers who surround them. For the four women who speak
for us in Defend Dignity and share their stories, if it wasn’t
that faith in Christ, which they first saw through the love of
people, they wouldn’t have stayed out of prostitution.
And in all those cases, the Church played a huge role.
nity of Women Who Are Prostituted
Some found Christ in Alpha, for some it was through a
small group. Yes, there are success stories where Jesus was
not involved, but church is a huge factor.
FT: One woman interviewed for the story I mentioned
earlier felt she was judged at church when the pastor
“Prostituted women in our country have a
mortality rate 40
per cent higher than
the national average.”