I'll be braving the snow today to travel downtown to support students from Dr. Charles Best Secondary who, as part of their Social Justice 12 class, are setting up a display table and collecting signatures on a petition that would have the federal government toughen Canadian law against prostitution. I think it's significant that their approach represents a complete rejection of the misguided "sex-trade worker" line of thinking that is favoured by many "progressives."
Here's the text of a note I received from teacher Ken Ipe explaining the project:
For your information, my Social Justice 12 classes (60 students) have chosen to pursue a federal government petition campaign on Saturday, January 14th, from 9:00am-12:00 pm next to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The goal is to gain signatures to change the current criminal code in relation to prostitution. Please see below for the Petition specifics. Since this is a time when Canada is wrestling with such laws, this is a timely event chosen by the students for their final exam.
We continue to appreciate your support in the activism that this course generates.
Petition to the House of Commons
January 9th, 2012
1. Prostitution is by its nature a form of male violence against women.
2. Countries that have legalized or fully decriminalized prostitution such as New Zealand, Netherlands, and Australia have seen a significant increase in human trafficking, illegal brothels, and increased organized crime activity. For example in New Zealand, organized crime has now controlled 80% of the prostitution of which only 20% are legal. For example, the organized crime in the Netherlands has forced the government to close down 1/3 of the Red Light District.
3. Prostitution normalizes sexual exploitation. Prostitution is systemic violence against women and a major deterrent to equality.
4. Prostitution is not a choice but rather a lack of choice and opportunity. The vast majority of prostitutes starts as young as 13 years old and is denied true choice and opportunity.
5. Women are not to be bought and sold as commodities.
We call upon the government of Canada to
· view prostitution in its essence as violence against women.
· amend the Criminal Code by rewriting our prostitution laws in a way that criminalizes the sex buyers and pimps and decriminalizes the person being sold. We ask to use the Nordic model of Prostitution Law. This is called the Nordic Model (and abolitionist perspective) as seen is such countries as Sweden, Norway, and Iceland which has seen a dramatic reduction in prostitution and an increase in the stigma of buying and selling women.
· close all brothels and bawdy houses such as massages parlors where such prostitution occurs and pimps control.
· to not allow men to avoid court involvement by offering john school, anger management classes, etc… instead of court.
· provide prostituted women with immediate access to women-only detox, counseling, and longer term recovery beds.