“I’m glad I’m on this team.” Those were the words in an email between EFC staff who worked to edit the EFC’s submission on current prostitution laws, which we believe are a critical tool in fighting sexual exploitation.
The EFC submitted the brief Feb. 25 to the parliamentary committee on justice and human rights which is reviewing the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.
This is important work, made possible by EFC donors – the sometimes invisible but always essential members of our team. These laws are intended to protect people in Canada who are being sexually exploited. They are intended to protect and promote human dignity and equality.
The EFC’s brief (and all the work and research it represents) was a moment for Canadian Evangelicals to speak up in support of girls and women who are at risk of exploitation and who are being prostituted in our country. When the EFC submits a brief like this one, it is good to pause and consider the thousands of EFC friends and affiliates who stand with us, as we stand with those with whom we journey on the path to mercy and justice.
As Christians we seek the well-being of those who are being prostituted and who are vulnerable to exploitation. We want to uphold the human dignity of these individuals. No one has the right to buy access to another person’s body.
We know prostitution isn’t merely a series of interactions between purchaser and purchased that exist independently of one another. It is part of a system of exploitation that is based on structural inequalities. It preys on vulnerabilities.
Entry into prostitution is often the result of multiple risk factors and socioeconomic factors such as poverty, mental health issues, disability, family breakdown or disruption, early home leaving, being in government care, or a history of childhood abuse or neglect. Such factors work together to create the conditions under which a woman or girl feels she has no other genuine choices in her life, like prostitution is her only or best option for survival.
Paying attention to this is part of our work and our calling as Evangelicals in Canada.
We need to pay attention to the fact most victims in sex-trade-related offences are women, 94 per cent according to the most recent statistics. And they are often young women. More than 4 in 10 victims in violent offences involving at least one sex-trade- related offence are 12- to 17-years old. Indigenous women and girls are highly overrepresented due, at least in part, to the lasting effects of colonization and the residential schools system. Indigenous women and girls are only four per cent of the population, yet they are the majority of those trafficked and prostituted on the streets of Canada. This is alarming and requires our attention and action. In fact, a study of sexual exploitation and trafficking of Indigenous persons in Winnipeg noted that the average age of entry into sexual exploitation was 13.8 years of age and most participants remained entrenched an average of 9.75 years.
When there are Canadians living in poverty, unable to afford housing, experiencing racism and marginalization or lack of social support, we must respond with genuine options to address those needs, rather than accepting the sale of the person’s sexuality as the answer.
The EFC is called to this work and with your help we are able to do it. Canada can and must do better than to accept prostitution as a solution to poverty, racism and a range of other underlying social issues. The current prostitution laws, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, are a critical tool in fighting sexual exploitation. We will keep you updated on the results of the parliamentary justice committee study.
How you can help
- Stay up to date on this issue and more at www.TheEFC.ca · Ask your MP to support the prostitution laws. See www.TheEFC.ca/Prostitution-Law-Review.
- Is there anyone working with prostituted persons, or those who are in vulnerable situations, that you could help in your own community?
- Pray with us that the government considers the recommendations in the EFC submission. Read it at www.TheEFC.ca/Prostitution
Also in this issue: EFC research update: Discipling children, small church study; New EFC resources available for you and your church; Prayers for Ukraine; Message from the President, Bruce J. Clemenger and Jacob Birch is the major gifts officer for the EFC, for Eastern Canada.