Ontario To Traffickers: We're Open For Business

Norma Ramos, Executive Director, CATW October 6, 2010 Canada

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) stands in opposition to the Ontario Superior Court's decision which voided Canada's anti-prostitution laws.

In commemoration of October 5: International Day of No Prostitution, the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) stands in opposition to the Ontario Superior Court's recent decision which voided Canada's anti-prostitution laws. The Court asserts that their ruling will lead to greater safety for women in prostitution. This decision, to the contrary, is certain to put even more women and girls at risk. It is premised on false notions and is seriously at odds with Canada's respected human rights record.

First, decriminalizing prostitution sends an unmistakable signal to pimps and human traffickers that they are welcome to conduct "business" in Canada. This is an especially dangerous message to send at a time when human trafficking is now tied with illegal arms sales as the leading source of criminal earnings in the world. Countries that have legalized prostitution have witnessed a dramatic increase in both the demand for prostitution and the incidence of sex trafficking it fuels. 

Second, prostitution is a practice of sex discrimination that targets girls and women for abuse. It is a social injustice stemming from and perpetuating the world's oldest inequality, that of women. It is also inextricably linked to sex trafficking. Decriminalization of prostitution ignores the underlying social inequalities that give rise to sexual exploitation and is fundamentally at odds with the goal of human equality. The most effective way to address this injustice is to create the legal, political and social conditions that give women alternatives to prostitution rather than working to keep them in the sex industry.

Canada should decriminalize the women in prostitution and address the demand for prostitution by penalizing the buyers instead of paving the way for men to purchase women and children. A good place to start would be to adopt the Nordic Model, originated in Sweden, and passed in other countries such as Norway, Iceland, the Philippines and South Korea. 

The Nordic Model is premised on the recognition that prostitution is violence against women. It also recognizes that women and girls are human beings and therefore cannot be bought or sold for commercial sexual exploitation. It criminalizes the sex industry and their customers while decriminalizing those exploited in the sex trade. By criminalizing the purchase of a sexual act, the law identifies and penalizes the agents of the harm inherent in prostitution. It is the only approach that has led to a decline in sex trafficking. 

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, the world's first organization to fight human trafficking internationally, adds our voice to those of the Canadian women's groups and human rights advocates who are calling upon their high court to reverse this decision and to legislate against the demand for commercial sexual exploitation.

Attached file: PR Ontario To Traffickers - We┬╣re Open For Business_10.04.10.pdf