Buying Sex is a Crime: national campaign urges government action

‘Buying Sex is a Crime’ billboards will be going up in Metro Vancouver, and across Canada, this month.

A national initiative involving two local groups (REED and EVE) has launched a billboard campaign which will be in evidence around the Metro Vancouver this month. Following is the organizers’ statement.

The Buying Sex is a Crime campaign is supported by a wide cross-section of groups from across the country that are united in our desire to see an end to sexual exploitation in Canada.

Buying sex, or attempting to buy sex, is illegal in Canada.

In 2014, Canada passed the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which declared that the purchase or attempted purchase of sex was illegal – wherever and whenever it occurs. This shift is significant, because the demand for paid sex is what funnels women into prostitution and fuels sex trafficking.

The preamble of the bill recognized that prostitution is inherently dangerous and exploitive, that objectification of the human body and commodification of sexuality causes social harm, and that prostitution violates human dignity and equality between the sexes. It also recognizes coercive elements like poverty, addiction, colonization, mental illness and racialization as a few key contributing factors to individuals entering prostitution or being vulnerable to exploitation.

Ending exploitation means turning the focus away from those who are prostituted and exploited and onto the demand for paid sex, which is the root cause of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

This approach has been proven effective in countries such as Norway, Sweden and Iceland, and has been adopted in recent years by several other countries.

It is critical that the federal government maintain and encourage enforcement of the current laws in order to ensure that Canada has a real chance of being a global leader in ending this type of exploitation.

Our federal government has stated its commitment to working towards gender equality in Parliament and in the day to day reality of average Canadians. They have committed to addressing violence against women and girls.

Upholding the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act is a vital step toward achieving that equality and creating real safety for all peoples.

Mary-Lee Bouma (REED), far left, and Trisha Baptie (EVE), centre, are contacts for the Buying Sex is a Crime campaign. This picture was taken October 18, 2016 when several groups held a press conference urging government action in support of the new law making the purchase of sex illegal.

There are sponsoring groups (including the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada) right across Canada; two are based in Metro Vancouver:

EVE (formerly ‘Exploited Voices now Educating’)
EVE is a volunteer, non-governmental, non-profit organization composed of former sex-industry women dedicated to naming prostitution violence against women and seeing its abolition through political action, advocacy and awareness-raising that focuses on ending the demand for paid sexual access to women and children’s bodies.

Contact Trisha Baptie: trisha@educating-voices.com   

REED (Resist Exploitation Embrace Dignity)

Since 2005 REED has been standing in solidarity and struggle with women who have been sexually exploited and trafficked into the sex industry. We consider it a privilege to share in mutual transformation with women who are surviving the effects of a sexualized and violent culture. 

Contact Mary-Lee Bouma: mary-lee@embracedignity.org

Billboards will soon be up near the intersection of Georgia Street and Homer Street in Vancouver and Scott Road and Larson Road in Surrey, and possibly in other locations.

I wrote on this topic last October: Buying sex is a crime – though you’d never know it in BC.

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