Prostitution and Pornography
The issue: Prostitution and Pornography exploits women and children
Prostitution is a part of the extremely profitable commercial sex trade that exploits primarily vulnerable women and girls. Prostitution is inseparable from sex trafficking, which involves coercion and control of the trafficked victims.
Under Canada’s current prostitution legislation, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), purchasing sexual services and pimping are illegal. However, the Act is unevenly enforced and in Vancouver and British Columbia, almost completely ignored by law enforcement.
Pornography is another form of sexual exploitation that is steeped in racism, dehumanization and the commodification of, and violence against, women. The porn industry is one of the largest and most profitable in the world. It includes selling images of rape and abuse of women and children for men to watch for their own sexual pleasure.
Why does the exploitation of women and children matter?
Most feminists echo PCEPA in understanding the sale and purchase of women’s bodies for sexual purposes to be inherently violent acts. Prostitution is maintained by the existence of class and racial inequalities as well as male sense of entitlement to women’s bodies.
The promotion and normalization of prostitution and pornography undermine women’s equality and fail to protect the human rights of women and girls by subjecting them to emotional, physical, and spiritual violence from the men who purchase sex and those who traffic them.
The women and girls exploited in prostitution in Canada are disproportionately Indigenous, racialized, poor and/or survivors of childhood sexual abuse or other trauma. These factors, plus the sexualization of young women and girls within a culture of pornography, increase the risks of women and girls being lured and trapped within the exploitative sex trade.
What can we do about the exploitation of women and children?
Advocate for the retention and enforcement of Canada’s prostitution law, PCEPA, by charging sex buyers, pimps and traffickers. This will help reduce the demand that drives the industry.
Advocate for significant investments in support and recovery services to help women exit prostitution, not just for harm reduction, which frequently ends up perpetuating prostitution.
Significantly increase education for young people about the harms of prostitution and pornography. Teach them how to recognize the signs of luring and grooming tactics used by traffickers and pimps and how to protect themselves from being ensnared into the trap.
Increase efforts to help children recognize when they are being sexually abused and how to reach out for help.