Response to the call for legalization or full decriminalization of prostitution and the opening of brothels:
EVE's position is that neither full decriminalization or legalization (see definitions below) will do anything to quell the rising demand for paid sexual access to the bodies of women and children. Endorsing the sale of those who are already marginalized by race, sex, class, and economic status is not a progressive option.
Legalization and full decriminalization are illusions of safety for prostituted women, who experience physical, sexual, and psychological violence both indoors and outdoors. Pimps and traffickers, however, would benefit immensely from legalized or fully decriminalized systems it would offer them a safe space to sell women.
Brothels do nothing more than move abuse indoors and give all the complex systemic issues involved with prostitution a place to hide. The most vulnerable women among us would be abandoned as they could not meet the criteria to "work" in legal brothels due to circumstances such as addiction and poor physical and mental health.
EVE is calling on our government to stand up for women's equality by saying NO to the form of male sexual violence that is prostitution and criminalizing the demand for paid sex (johns), pimping, procuring and trafficking while de-criminalizing those who are sold for sex. We are calling our government to stand up to the elements of organized crime that are involved in prostitution by criminalizing pimping, procuring and sex trafficking.
EVE would like to see LONG term rehabilitation for those exiting prostitution, provided by agencies that support the abolition of prostitution.
EVE thinks that a country as rich in resources as Canada needs to provide a Guaranteed Liveable Income for those in need, particularly for women with dependents.
Keeping our sisters safe: Political recommendations
EVE believes in order to keep our sisters safe and to encourage healthy and positive sexual relations that allow our women to live with dignity and as equals the following MUST happen:
- Criminalization of the male demand for paid sex, pimping, trafficking and procuring.
- De-criminalization of the prostituted.
- We must NOT open brothels and move the abuse indoors. This would be a gift to pimps and traffickers to have a safe space to house the sold.
- Prostituted women must have immediate access to women only detox & long term recovery beds.
- A country as rich in resources as Canada must offer guaranteed liveable income for women and their children, as well as others.
- Offer resources that allow women to keep their children rather than condemning women for doing their best by apprehending the children and giving resources to others to raise women's children.
- Men must not be allowed to avoid court involvement by offering them john school, anger management classes etc. instead of court. Programs must be offered in conjunction with court involvement and oversight.
- The issue of violence against women must be dealt with and taken seriously by law enforcement, prosecution and on a governmental level.
- Acknowledge the inherent gendering, racism, classism, and colonialism and keep it in the conversation every time prostitution is discussed.
- Women exiting prostitution must be offered long term, consistent services and counselling needed to heal from the trauma of their abuse.
Send your MP and/or MLA a letter supporting the abolition of prostitution
We at EVE want you to never underestimate the power of language, especially in the fight for women's equality and the abolition of prostitution.
Please read and educate yourself about why we choose the words we do and how you can honour women currently in the sex industry and those who have left through your use of language. We'll start by explaining some words you may be unfamiliar with and helping you use a vernacular you may be unfamiliar with. We use the term "women and children" in some places, not to infantilize women but rather to acknowledge that many women in prostitution started as a minors and that the grooming for prostitution happens in youth.
Prostituted women: While individual women currently or formerly involved in the sex industry may choose to refer to themselves in a variety of terms, the general public should use prostituted women. Prostitution is not work; it is exploitation. The term "prostituted women" honours the personhood of the women involved without sanitizing the industry of its inherent violence.
Abolition: A two-pronged approach to ending prostitution that involves a legal component and social component. This is sometimes referred to as the 'Nordic' or 'Swedish' model, as several Nordic countries pioneered this approach to prostitution. In order for this approach to be successful, ALL of the following components must be addressed:
- Decriminalize the prostituted women (the sold) and criminalize the demand for paid sexual access to women and children's bodies (johns), pimping and procuring.
- Provide adequate long term supports for women and girls who are transitioning out of exploitation.
- The current welfare rates must be reformed and replaced with a guaranteed liveable income to ensure that all women have access to basic necessities and can provide for their children.
- Identify the many systemic issues that funnel women and children into prostitution and work to change those systems so they empower and assist women and children rather than further harm them.
- We must follow leadership from aboriginal women's organizations like NWAC (Native Women's Association of Canada), AWAN (Aboriginal Women's Action Network) and others, on how to create specialized programs and supports for aboriginal women, children and communities.
Decriminalization: refers to the removal of laws surrounding prostitution. However, a major division in ideologies occurs around laws as they pertain to the purchasing of sex, pimping, living of the avails of someone being prostituted, running common bawdy houses and other activities related to someone benefiting from a woman's sexual exploitation. Almost everyone involved in the discussion around prostitution unanimously agrees that the decriminalization of women is needed immediately. Those who support full-decriminalization advocate for the removal of ALL criminal laws surrounding prostitution-related activities, including soliciting sexual services, pimping, procuring, and living off the avails, and wish to have the industry regulated through existing labour laws. This is incompatible with the abolition movement. The de-criminalization of the women and the strengthening and enforcement of laws against the men who pay to sexually access women and children's bodies as well as pimps and procurers are at the heart of abolition.
Legalization: Prostitution is allowed under regulated conditions by the government, which benefits by taxing the women. This emboldens pimps, brothel owners and johns who are legitimated and empowered. Legalization abandons women even further to the men who profit from their exploitation sexually and monetarily.
Human Trafficking (general): The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery.
Note that the legal definition of human trafficking in Canada requires that victims fear for their safety. This is an incredibly limiting feature of the Canadian Criminal Code surrounding human trafficking as it discredits less obvious methods of control.
Pimp (sometimes female pimps use the term Madam): A person who abuses and/or controls by using power, violence, threats, intimidation, over a prostituted woman or multiple prostituted women for their own profit.
John, trick, date, sexual predator: are all terms used for a man who preys on women's and children's vulnerability and offers them money in exchange for his sexual pleasure. Those in the abolition movement usually refrain from using sanitized terms like "client" or "customer" to discuss those who buy women and children.
Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth: Youth under the age of 18 years old who are being used in any way sexually for money, food, shelter, alcohol, drugs, love, affection or any other basics of life. Child prostitute and youth sex-worker are inaccurate and inflammatory statements as any adult who has sex with a minor is committing a felony.
Exiting: A word used to describe the transition process for women who are empowered and supported to leave the sex industry. Exiting is not a simple, easy or quick process. Supports need to be intense and long term for a person to succeed at making the transition.
Bad Date, Bad Trick: When a john/trick/date/sexual predator intimidates, harms, abuses or takes advantage of his power in a situation and harms the woman or child physically, mentally, or emotionally. While abolition recognizes that all prostitution is violence towards women as an oppressive system, there also the individual acts of violence prostituted persons experience.
Sex Industry: Any form of money or goods being exchanged for sexual services, whether in person, via internet, phone or any other avenue.
Brothel / Massage Parlour / Body Rub / Rub and Tug's: A house, apartment, business, store-front, or other property where sexual services are sold.
Stroll, Corner, Track: Well-known areas where customers drive around looking to buy sexual services.
Exploitation: Taking advantage of an inequality (i.e. gender, poverty, homelessness, etc.) through force, fraud, coercion, finances or exchange.
Violence: is a term that can mean physical harm, but is often used more broadly by abolitionists to describe the abuse of a pre-existing power imbalance, the result of which is harm to a specific person or a group of people as a whole.
"World's Oldest Profession" is in fact the World's Oldest Oppression -- PLEASE keep repeating that whenever you hear that phrase.
Next Section: Prostitution Research