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dimanche 4 mars 2007

The Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle (CLES) intervene during the upcoming provincial election

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the Concertation des luttes contre
l’exploitation sexuelle (CLES) will intervene
during the upcoming provincial election
and invites you to do so in your community

Our objective is to persuade all political parties to take a public stand in favour of a country - indeed a world-without prostitution, and to commit to working to that end.

We believe it is important to remind candidates in every party that a world without prostitution is possible and that they can contribute to making it happen, in Québec, in Canada and even at the international level.

We propose various means to attain this goal, in accordance with the authorities and responsibilities already vested in the Québec government.

CLES representatives have already approached all major political parties to meet with the leaders and ask them about their positions and commitments in the struggle against sexual exploitation. We will keep you informed about the outcome of this initiative.

But the key to success is your support and intervention in large numbers ! The more voices that are heard by political parties throughout the regions of Québec, and the more people there are demanding that the State truly combat the institution of prostitution (and not those who are exploited in prostitution), the stronger and more articulate our collective voice will be, and the more chance we will have of generating a real public debate, based on all women’s right to equality.

This is why we are asking you to intervene too, in every way available to you. For instance, you can :

• Call or visit each of your candidates’ riding office, as soon as possible, in order to inform them of your concerns.
• Mail them a personal letter or one of our postcards summarizing your position.
• Write an opinion piece for a newspaper, call an open-line radio program.
• Make yourself heard about this all-important issue for women’s rights during public meetings organized by political parties or community groups in your area.
• Organize your own meeting on this issue, along with other concerned citizens, and invite all local candidates.
• Keep local and national media informed and aware of this issue so that they can relay your questions and demands to all political party leaders.

Because a world without prostitution is possible

Whether women are prostituted in the street or via escort agencies, sexual massage parlours, specialized bars or brothels, prostitution cannot be dissociated from sexual exploitation and the sexual trafficking of women, since women are trafficked in direct response to men’s “demand” in a particular city, region or country.

Under the combined pressures of globalization, militarization and rising misogyny, we are witnessing a growing tendency to legitimize and legalize prostitution, under various pretexts : meeting a “demand” presented as natural, “cleaning up” residential areas, controlling organized crime, even countering violence against women-all while opening the door to huge revenues for pimps and for the State.

The Concertation des luttes contre l’exploitation sexuelle-a community-based coalition of women’s groups, scholars and other grass-roots activists-feels that legalizing prostitution is equivalent to legitimizing a form of male violence against women. This violence particularly targets marginalized women (impoverished, racialized, immigrant, Native, etc.).

Women who are currently in prostitution deserve solidarity and respect. It is urgent to ensure their access to existing health and social services. We condemn and fight with them the violence of which they are targets, just as we do with regard to all violence against women. They are entitled, as is every woman, to advocacy for a world without prostitution. We refuse to endorse the commodification of women’s bodies by pimps and prostitutors and to legitimize the sexist and racist marketplace currently imposed by our society.

The current election campaign is an opportunity for all women and men who share our concerns to demand clear commitments from the political parties to make Québec a territory of equality between women and men, a Québec free of prostitution.

CLES E-mail :
Tél. : 514-529-5252
On the Web :
Rubrique CLES
English Section

To make a québec without prostitution possible commitments required from all political parties during the currentelection campaign

We want the next Québec government to demonstrate creativity and political courage on this issue and to adopt a comprehensive and consistent action strategy to combat the sexual exploitation and sexual trafficking of women, based on four action focuses : 1) education/prevention ; 2) protection of survivors and creation of alternatives ; 3) elimination of pimping ; 4) accountability/penalization of prostitutors (“johns”).

We ask political parties to endorse the following commitments :

• Acknowledge that prostitution is a form of violence, exploitation and domination of women by men ;

• Implement a broad public education campaign, both in schools and in the public sphere, to offset the trivialization of prostitution and pimping and to assert that buying sex is not compatible with substantive equality between women and men ;

• Establish clear instructions so that the State stops tolerating and facilitating the crimes of pimping, trafficking, sex tourism and the solicitation of “sexual services” by prostitutors, first by demanding that civil servants and parliamentarians no longer solicit “sexual services” in the performance of their functions ;

• Mandate police authorities to charge pimps and clients of prostitution, including the media corporations that thrive on advertisements for the prostitution industry ;

• Adopt concrete measures to end, in Québec’s jurisdiction, any form of criminalization, judiciarization or systemic harassment of women in prostitution and denial of their rights to justice ;

• Support the organizations that work to educate about, prevent and seek alternatives to prostitution ;

• Fully implement Québec’s Anti-poverty Act and legislate essential measures to allow women to escape poverty (raising the minimum wage to a decent living wage, indexing and raising welfare rates, improving social housing policy, completely reforming the tax system, creating specific access to employment measures for immigrant women, etc.)

Here are a few examples of questions to raise during meetings, telephone calls, letters and public interventions.

Questions for the Quebec Liberal Party

Your government has drafted and passed a gender equality policy in which, in section 3.5.2, you acknowledge prostitution to be a form of sexual exploitation and violence, linked to men’s domination of women. This is a big step in the right direction. On the other hand, nowhere does your policy address the “demand,” which is overwhelmingly male, or the urgent need to challenge it. You mention the need to prevent teenage girls’ entry into prostitution but ignore the need to prevent young men from becoming consumers, save for a vague reference to a need for sex education. Are you ready to challenge this “demand,” exacerbated by the prostitution industry, and to take the necessary actions to oppose it ? How ?

Moreover, nowhere does the governmental action plan accompanying the policy mention specific actions to oppose prostitution ; there is only reference to trafficking in women. Yet the existence of sexual trafficking in women and girls is directly connected to prostitution : both of these phenomena must be addressed to achieve real social transformation. Do you intend to propose specific, adequately funded action measures to achieve basic, effective and long-term progress in ending prostitution in Québec ? What are they ?

Is your party ready to endorse the commitments requested by the CLES ? Do you agree to defend these positions within your caucus ?

Questions for the Parti québécois

Has the Parti Québécois adopted a position regarding the issue of prostitution and the sexual trafficking of women and girls ? What is that position ? Do you agree with section 3.5.2 of the new gender equality policy, which acknowledges prostitution to be a form of sexual exploitation and violence ? Do you believe that this policy can be improved to better oppose the prostitution industry ? How ?

Are you ready, as the future government, to commit to make Québec a country free of prostitution, as have governments like that of Sweden ?

Is your party ready to endorse the commitments requested by the CLES ? Do you agree to defend these positions within your caucus ?

Questions for the Action démocratique du Québec

Has the ADQ adopted a position regarding prostitution and the sexual trafficking of women and girls ? What is that position ? Do you agree with section 3.5.2 of the new gender equality policy, which acknowledges prostitution to be a form of sexual exploitation and violence ? Do you believe that this policy can be improved to better oppose the prostitution industry ? How ?

Are you ready to support ending any penalization of the women exploited in prostitution in the jurisdiction of Québec ?

How does your party envision better preventing the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and girls in Québec ?

Is your party ready to endorse the commitments requested by the CLES ? Do you agree to defend these positions within your caucus ?

Questions for the Québec solidaire Party

What is the position of Québec Solidaire regarding the issue of prostitution and the sexual trafficking of women and girls ? Do you agree with section 3.5.2 of the new gender equality policy, which acknowledges prostitution to be a form of sexual exploitation and violence ? Do you believe that this policy can be improved to better oppose the prostitution industry ? How ?

What links do you acknowledge between prostitution, the commodification of women’s bodies, globalization and the trafficking of women and girls ? What solutions does a left-wing, feminist and egalitarian party such as yours wish to bring to such problems ?

Is your party ready to endorse the commitments requested by the CLES and to work so that a Québec solidaire becomes a Québec free of prostitution and trafficking ? Do you agree to defend these positions within your party ?

Questions for the Green Party of Québec

What is the position of the Green Party of Québec regarding the issue of prostitution and the sexual trafficking of women and girls ? Do you agree with section 3.5.2 of the new gender equality policy, which acknowledges prostitution to be a form of sexual exploitation and violence ? Do you believe that this policy can be improved to better oppose the prostitution industry ? How ?

Is your party ready to endorse the commitments requested by the CLES ?

For further information

Excerpt regarding the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women taken from the new Québec government policy : Turning Equality in Law into Equality in Fact (2006) :

Section 3.5.2 :
"In Québec, like everywhere else, the proliferation of lucrative activity linked with the sex industry and prostitution (nude dancing, escort agencies, massage parlours, street prostitution, pornographic videos, etc.) has lead to an increase in the numbers of young people, usually women, who offer sexual services as a means of survival. Studies clearly reveal that these women suffer a high level of discrimination and violence. The sexual exploitation of adult and teen women is an economic activity that generates huge profits, especially for organized crime-including street gangs.

In addition, while it is difficult to precisely measure the scope, among prostituted women we find many women who are confronted with additional forms of discrimination, in particular, immigrant and Native women. Sexual exploitation is a form of violence that includes the trafficking of migrant women.

In the context of globalization, human trafficking cannot be limited to the usual meaning of the term because it also encompasses the different forms of exploitation common to the situation of migration, for example in the area of work.

Pornography and its virtual expression, Internet crime, and all activities connected with the sale of sexual services are other forms of violence that are rooted in relationships of domination. In general, sexual exploitation is targeted more at women, teenage girls and young girls, and is the manifestation of an abuse of power that must not be tolerated in a society that upholds the values of justice and equality.

To combat prostitution and trafficking in women, Québec will implement mechanisms enabling it to fight human trafficking, combining repression of traffickers with the protection of women victims. To every extent possible, it will implement programs and directives to more effectively fight all other forms of sexual exploitation, in particular, Internet criminality, sex tourism and the proliferation of pornography containing acts of violence against women and children. We must also prevent teens from being drawn into prostitution, especially by combating poverty, reducing the school drop-out rate, and sex education designed to instil a sense of responsibility in boys and girls."
(Section 3.5.2 page 73)

On Sisyphe, March 7, 2007

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