Fixing prostitution laws is about men, too

MONDAY MORNING EDITORIAL — The federal government is reportedly poised to introduce legislation to change the country’s laws on prostitution.

Supreme Court of Canada.

Supreme Court of Canada.

The changes will be in response to a Supreme Court of Canada ruling last year that struck down Canada’s prostitution laws. Those laws have been based largely on outlawing communication for the purposes of prostitution rather than prostitution itself.

It’s a practical approach, since it’s easier to prove communication for the purposes of than it is the act. However, the Supreme Court found in December in favour of a challenge that contended the laws as written endanger prostitutes.

Parliament was given a year to come up with a better law. Striking down the old one wasn’t universally popular.

“It’s a sad day that we’ve now had confirmed that it’s OK to buy and sell women and girls in this country,” said Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

“I think generations to come — our daughters, their granddaughters and on, will look back and say, ‘What were they thinking?’”

The debate on prostitution is fraught with complexity, confusion and contradiction. One the one hand, prostitution is regarded as exploitation while, on the other, some argue the right of women to engage safely in it.

As a society, if not by consensus then at least by majority, we’ve decided that sex-trade workers should be regarded as victims rather than criminals.

Rather than penalizing the prostitute, therefore, many believe the law should focus on the other players in the process — mainly pimps and clients.

And that may be the way it’s heading, since it seems unlikely the Conservatives will favour decriminalization or legalization.

But there’s on aspect to this debate that needs to be addressed. Unfailingly, the discussion centres on women. Certainly, women make up the greater percentage of prostitutes but studies in some cities show that 20 to 30 per cent or more are male.

Male prostitutes, like female prostitutes, are subjected to violence. Let’s keep in mind, when we debate what to do about prostitution, that while it victimizes women, it also victimizes many men.

Fixing prostitution laws is about making things safer for prostitutes.

About Mel Rothenburger (9489 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: