demand. As long as there is a
demand for paid sexual services, there will be pimps, gangs,
traffickers and organized crime
ready and willing to guarantee
a steady supply.
With this proposed change
in law, the government has
recognized that putting an end
to sexual exploitation means
we need to focus our efforts on
eliminating the demand for paid sex.
Research shows the vast majority of
prostituted persons are not engaging in
prostitution because of free informed
choice, and would get out if they felt they
could. The model proposed in Bill C- 36
recognizes this reality, and targets the individuals who put women in prostitution
and those who keep them there.
This is good news.
In crafting the legislation, the government has taken a big-picture perspective
and courageously challenged the belief
that men are entitled to paid sexual access
to women’s bodies – or that any person’s
body can be considered
a consumer good to be
bought, sold or traded.
The bill also maintains and enhances
pimping or profiting
from the sexual exploitation of another
person, as well as making it an offence
to advertise the sale of sexual services of
others in print media or on the Internet.
Most significantly, the bill shifts how we
view those who are prostituted – in the spirit
and intent of law they are no longer seen as
nuisances but as vulnerable individuals. So,
except in specific circumstances, they are
given immunity from criminal penalty.
The proposed laws turn the previous understanding of prostitution on its
head. Where, historically, those who are
prostituted have borne the weight of our
prostitution laws, under Bill C- 36 buyers
In June the Federal Government pro- posed new prostitution laws for Can- ada. The laws were tabled in response
to the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in
the Bedford case, which found three prostitution laws in the Criminal Code to be
Bill C- 36, the Protection of Communities
and Exploited Persons Act, directly targets
the demand for prostitution. In this regard,
the bill represents a paradigm shift in law –
and eventually, we hope, in public attitude
when it comes to prostitution.
The preamble of the bill recognizes that:
• prostitution is inherently exploitive and
• the objectification of the human body
and commodification of human sexual-
ity is a social harm
• discouraging prostitution is important
to protecting the dignity and equality of
• it is “important to denounce and prohibit
the purchase of sexual services because
it creates a demand for prostitution.”
Specifically, this legislation has three
• protecting those who sell their sexual
services from exploitation
• protecting communities from the harms
caused by prostitution
• reducing the demand for sexual services.
So, what are the highlights?
The bill proposes a new offence prohibiting the purchase of sex, anywhere.
If passed, the purchase of sexual services
would be, for the first time, illegal in Canada.
The sex trade operates according to
simple market principles of supply and
new Prostitution laws
By Julia Beazley
ActivateChangeyour World n FRoM tHE EFC’S CENtRE FoR FAItH AND puBlIC lIFE
and pimps will bear
most of that weight.
Hopefully, that intent
will be upheld when
it comes to enforcement.
Criminal laws are
not merely penal,
In this way, the law is a teacher.
The changes proposed in Bill C- 36 will
create a legacy for generations to come –
generations of children who will grow up
understanding that human bodies are not
commodities to be bought and sold.
Bill C- 36 is intended to be part of a two-pronged government approach. In addition
to legal reform, the Government has made
a commitment to support programs that assist individuals in exiting prostitution. This
will be critical to the success of this new
Ending prostitution will not happen
simply or quickly because of a change
in the law. There is still much work to be
done. But a fundamental change in law
and attitude such as this bill proposes will
help, making it clear that in Canada we will
not tolerate or condone sexual exploitation.
The bill isn’t perfect, and the EFC will
be looking to speak to how it might be
improved when it is sent to committee for
study. But it is a very significant step in
the right direction. If you agree, write or
visit your Member of Parliament and let
them know. FT
JulIA BEAZlEy of ottawa is a policy
analyst at the EFC’s Centre for Faith and
public life. She blogs at www.theEFC.ca/
activateCFpl. please pray for the work
of the EFC. Financial support is
welcome at www.theEFC.ca/donate
or toll-free at 1-866-302-3362.
What should we make of the government’s
proposals in Bill C- 36?
this shift in thinking
alone is worthy