People often enter into prostitution as a last resort. Prostitution treats people as sexual property that can be bought and sold, and violates human dignity. Prostitution is exploitation, and a form of violence, abuse and control of vulnerable women, children and men.
God calls His people to be compassionate because he has been compassionate to us. In the Old Testament, this is evident in the call to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan. In the New Testament, Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves.
Human dignity flows from God’s creation of us in His image and His love for us. This compels us to respect and uphold each person’s inherent worth, and to not treat them as objects for our gratification.
Canada’s laws on prostitution will soon be reviewed in Parliament, likely in 2020 according to government statements. These laws target buyers of sex and pimps, based on the view that prostitution is inherently violent and exploits women and children. Sex worker groups are asking for prostitution to be decriminalized. The EFC is developing resources that defend and support existing laws.
You can contact your MP to tell them you support current laws that criminalize the actions of customers and pimps. Opposition to current laws is significant. For example, Bill C-75 in September 2018 threatened to weaken the good laws brought into force in 2014. The EFC defended current laws in a written brief and oral presentation
The EFC's support for the current laws has a long history. Before these laws were put in place, we spent several years researching and raising awareness of the effectiveness of the Nordic model of prostitution laws (adopted by Sweden, Iceland and Norway) which criminalizes customers and pimps rather than prostituted persons. We advocated extensively for the Canadian government to take this approach. With the passage of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act
in 2014, Canada adopted a similar model of law.
The EFC works in partnership with Defend Dignity
, an initiative of the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church to end sexual exploitation, holding events across Canada to raise awareness and educate about sexual exploitation, including prostitution, human trafficking and pornography.
The EFC made a submission on Human Trafficking in Canada to the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in late April 2018. It recommends the government maintain the current prostitution laws, renew the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and improve data collection. Download a sample letter on this issue that you can use when writing to an MP (.docx, .pdf).
Prostitution itself has never been illegal in Canada. Prostitution was discouraged by making the activities surrounding it illegal.
The Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling in the Bedford case struck down three prostitution-related offences: operating a brothel, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, and living on the avails of prostitution.
The EFC intervened in the Bedford case to support human dignity and to argue that treating people as commodities is contrary to human dignity. The EFC’s legal counsel argued that prostitution arises from the historical subordination of women, and the historical assumed right of men to buy and exchange women as objects for sexual use. The EFC’s factum also argued that decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution leads to increased rates of human trafficking and victimization of vulnerable people, as evidenced in countries like New Zealand or Germany.
The federal government responded to the Bedford decision by passing the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, in 2014. This law makes it an offence to buy sexual services or to profit from the sexual exploitation of another person. The legislation also makes it an offence to advertise the sale of another person’s sexual services in print media or online, or to sell sexual services in a public location where someone under 18 years of age could reasonably be expected to be present.
The EFC supports the Nordic model of prostitution laws (adopted by Sweden, Iceland and Norway) that criminalizes pimps and customers, and provides assistance to leave prostitution.
Prostitution exploits the vulnerable. Research shows that most people in prostitution were forced or coerced to enter prostitution, or that it was a last resort for those without other economic options.
Prostitution exploits those who are already vulnerable because of their economic circumstances, history of abuse, family breakdown or racialization. Aboriginal women and girls are particularly at risk with respect to sex trafficking.
Treating a person as sexual property that can be bought and sold violates human dignity. Human dignity flows from God’s creation of humans in his image (Genesis 1:26-27), His love for us and Jesus’ sacrifice for us. Respect for human dignity includes not treating people as objects for our gratification.
Like pornography, prostitution focuses only on the sexual dimension of human nature to the exclusion of all else. This creates a distorted view of both men and women, and robs each of their proper place and value in society. It is an affront to equality between the sexes, and it is harmful to the purchased and the purchaser, to communities and to society as a whole.
Where there is prostitution, there is violence. Prostitution is inherently exploitive and dangerous. Violent customers, pimps and traffickers prey on prostituted women. It is a form of violence, abuse and control of vulnerable women, children and men. It is not safe or a form of work like any other job.
God’s call to care for the vulnerable compels us to offer assistance to those who experience abuse, extreme poverty and exploitation.