Glendyne Gerrard is the executive director of Defend Dignity, a ministry that helps individuals and churches to end sexual exploitation in Canada.
Q1. What is the Choose Change campaign?
The Choose Change campaign (ChooseChangeCanada.org) challenges the harms of sexually violent images. It targets five Canadian companies and organizations whose practices and policies facilitate sexual exploitation, particularly pornography. We are asking them to change these harmful practices and embrace ones that promote the overall health of all Canadians.
The five companies and organizations are:
- Fairmont Hotels because they sell pornography/adult content videos in all their hotel rooms across Canada.
- Amazon.ca, Canada’s largest online retailer, because when you type in the word “porn” over 26,000 items are identified along with accompanying graphic images. As an example, they sell onesies for infants with the slogan, “Pin up in training,” featuring a well-known pin-up model and BDSM actress from the 1950s.
- Toronto Public Library, Canada’s largest library system, has no filters on their adult public computers. We have a body of evidence proving that kids, patrons and employees are being exposed to porn in these libraries.
- The Keg restaurant is another target because their free public wi-fi, while an appreciated service to their patrons, is unfiltered and again can expose people to porn.
- And, finally, we are testing the waters with Internet service provider Tek Savvy, to ask them to block porn unless their consumers choose to opt in.
We are asking the public to encourage these companies to change by emailing the CEOs of each company, sending tweets and posting on Facebook – all easy to do directly from the Choose Change website.
Q2. Why has Defend Dignity started this initiative?
Defend Dignity’s mission is to end sexual exploitation in Canada. Pornography is tightly linked to all forms of sexual exploitation. Women can be trafficked into the porn industry. Porn also fuels the demand for paid sex.
Defend Dignity advocates with the government for law and policy reform related to sexual exploitation. Canadians have been encouraged to participate in this advocacy with their parliamentarians.
To be successful, the Choose Change campaign now needs the public to advocate for changes in policy and practice at Canadian companies and organizations that facilitate sexual exploitation. Public pressure on these companies will pave the way for change, ultimately lessening exposure to sexually violent images and curbing sexual exploitation in our country.
Q3. What do you think its impact could be?
Success will be achieved if the five organizations we have targeted will choose change and join the Change Maker List of other organizations within their sector. The Change Maker List highlights companies which have put good practices and policies in place.
In the restaurant sector, we applaud Tim Hortons and McDonalds because they have filtered public wi-fi. In the public library sector, we applaud the South Central Regional Library in Manitoba for installing strong filters on all public computers.
The Dirty Dozen, a United States campaign developed by The National Centre on Sexual Exploitation, has some great success stories. Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Hyatt and Starwood hotels have all stopped the selling of porn in their hotel rooms. American Apparel and Carl’s Jr have stopped using sexual images in their advertising.
We are counting on our campaign to encourage similar positive changes. We need all Canadians to add their voice of encouragement so our five targets will choose change and reduce the spread of pornography! It is possible to end sexual exploitation in Canada!
Find out more on at ChooseChangeCanada.org. The EFC regularly partners with Defend Dignity, an initiative of The Christian and Missionary Alliance (an EFC affiliate denomination).