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mardi 12 décembre 2006


Conservatives’ Minoritary Report
Prostitution is a Form of Violence, not Commerce






Écrits d'Élaine Audet



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AUTRES ARTICLES
DANS LA MEME RUBRIQUE


What About the Women Who Want to Get Out of the Sex Trade ?
For the Industry of Prostitution : A Victory Disguised as a Defeat
Federal Report on Prostitution : The Missing Link
The majority report of the Justice Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws : a direct assault on women’s rights and a gift for organized crime
The Subcommittee’s majority report is moving towards normalizing the buying and selling of women
A contradictory, inconsistent and dangerous report
A Report Trivialising Prostitution
Protect victims and criminalize profiteers







Sisyphe presents here some excerpts of the report sent in, on December 13 2006, by the Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws. On June 6, 2006, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights gave our Subcommittee the mandate to continue the work begun by the Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws during the 38th Parliament and to report to the Standing Committee by December 8, 2006. The dissolution of Parliament in November 2005 had prevented the Subcommittee from finalizing its report and hence from carrying out the mandate assigned to it by the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which was “to review the solicitation laws in order to improve the safety of sex-trade workers and communities overall, and to recommend changes that will reduce the exploitation of and violence against sex-trade workers.” On June 6, 2006, the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights gave our Subcommittee the mandate to continue the work begun by the Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws during the 38th Parliament and to report to the Standing Committee by December 8, 2006. The dissolution of Parliament in November 2005 had prevented the Subcommittee from finalizing its report and hence from carrying out the mandate assigned to it by the Standing Committee on Justice, Human Rights, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, which was “to review the solicitation laws in order to improve the safety of sex-trade workers and communities overall, and to recommend changes that will reduce the exploitation of and violence against sex-trade workers.”

In contrast, like many witnesses who appeared before the Subcommittee, members from the Conservative Party see prostitution as a degrading and dehumanizing act, often committed and controlled by coercive or opportunistic individuals against victims who are frequently powerless to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation. They believe that the most realistic, compassionate and responsible approach to dealing with prostitution begins by viewing most prostitutes as victims.

Questioning Consent and Harmlessness

Unlike other parties, the Conservatives do not believe it is possible for the state to create isolated conditions in which the consensual provision of sex in exchange for money does not harm others. They believe that all prostitution has a social cost, and that any effort by the state to decriminalize prostitution would impoverish all Canadians - and Canadian women in particular - by signalling that the commodification and invasive exploitation of a woman’s body is acceptable. In their view, such a notion violates the dignity of women and undermines efforts to build a society in which all members are respected equally, regardless of gender. Furthermore, considering that gender-linked social and economic hardships are often what push women into prostitution in the first place, the Conservatives question how often “consent” is truly given out of choice, and not necessity.

These members also feel that because of the negative elements it attracts, prostitution is unacceptable in any location - commercial, industrial or residential, including massage parlours and private homes. They feel it would be unethical for a government to voluntarily degrade or endanger any community by permitting increased prostitute, john and pimp traffic, and subsequently exposing locals to elevated levels of harassment, luring and drug use.

The Conservative Approach

The Conservative members agree that the status quo with respect to the enforcement of laws is unacceptable, but disagree that decriminalization is the solution. They cite the example of Sweden, which decriminalized prostitution in the 1960s then recriminalized it in 1999 after concluding that decriminalization had in fact entrenched the very problems it was expected to resolve. The Conservatives are also deeply concerned about evidence from other countries that links decriminalization to an increase in both adult and child prostitution , and to a stronger control over prostitution by organized crime.

The Conservatives therefore call for legal and social reforms which would reduce all prostitution through criminal sanctions that clearly target abusers (johns and pimps), and improve the ability of those engaged in prostitution - the victims - to quit. They propose a new approach to criminal justice in which the perpetrators of crime would fund, through heavy fines, the rehabilitation and support of the victims they create. These fines would also act as a significant deterrent. As for the prostitutes themselves, the Conservatives recommend a system in which first-time offenders and those forced or coerced into the lifestyle are assisted out of it, and avoid a criminal record. However, those who freely seek to benefit from the “business” of prostitution would be held accountable for the victimization which results from prostitution as a whole. To address the problem of the two-tiered sex trade, these members emphasize that law enforcement must deal equally and consistently with all forms of prostitution, whether it be found on the street, in escort services, massage parlours, bawdy houses, or other locations.

The Conservatives reject any attempt to characterize the Criminal Code provisions listed in Appendix D as adequate protection for either prostitutes or communities. In their view, such an effort is part of a decriminalization agenda that would eliminate tools required to separate communities from prostitution, and prostitutes from exploitation and abuse. While cognizant that solicitation laws may be improved, they believe that marginalization is not a function of the laws themselves, but of attempts to circumvent them. The fact that such attempts are made points to the need for intervention.

The Conservatives agree that there is a significant public health component to prostitution, but cannot support majority Recommendation 7 insofar as it enables prostitutes to remain in a dangerous and degrading lifestyle. The Conservative Party calls for the establishment of far-reaching educational strategies and programs that are focused on the reduction of all forms of prostitution, and encouraging all prostitutes towards exit programs.

The Subcommittee’s unanimous recommendations :

- against commercial sexual exploitation of minors
- against trafficking in persons
- against the statu quo on laws concerning prostitution, which in reality only penalise prostituted persons.
- for the adoption of legislation and programs to prevent and protect persons from exploitation and assist them in regaining control of their lives
- for the financing of research on problems associated with prostitution, including organized crime, the drug trade, and trafficking in persons for the purposes of prostitution.
- for the coordination by the Department of research on prostitution should include an examination of best practices adopted in Canada and abroad.

The reprensentatives of the Liberal Party, the Neo-Democrat Party and the Bloc Québécois agree that :

- prostitution is above all a public health issue, and not only a criminal law issue. What they propose is therefore a pragmatic approach that recognizes the importance of prevention, education, treatment and harm reduction measures for all persons involved in the many forms of prostitution, from sexual slavery and survival sex, to the exchange of sexual services between consenting adults (including sex education, distribution of condoms, bad date list, etc). (p. 95)
- Canada’s approach to adult prostitution is contradictory meaning adult prostitution is legal per se, but nearly impossible to practise without breaking the law so a process of law reform must be engaged that will consider changes to laws pertaining to prostitution, thus allowing criminal sanctions to focus on harmful situations.
- Sexual activities between consenting adults that do not harm others, whether or not payment is involved, should not be prohibited by the state and that we should rely on Criminal Code provisions of general application targeting various forms of exploitation and nuisance, such as public disturbance, indecent exhibition, coercion, sexual assault, trafficking in persons, extortion, kidnapping, etc.

On Sisyphe, December 13, 2006.


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