Friday, 11 July 2014

Prostitution and Bill C-36

I'm afraid I'm not all that familiar with the current Bill C-36, the bill to overhaul Canada's prostitution laws. Nor am I familiar with any current laws governing the practice, other than to know that no set of laws or regulations is going to please everybody. Whatever the law, in the end, some people are not going to like it.

But I do have some thoughts on the matter, based on my experiences with those in the trade. I realize that sounds questionable, so I will clarify before I go any further. I ran Alpha in a Provincial jail for about three years, a number of years ago. It was a co-ed institution, so there were women there as well as men. Most of the women there were in for prostitution or drug offences or both. In fact, the two often went hand-in-hand. That is, they would sell their bodies to pay for the drugs they needed to mask the pain of having to sell their bodies.

So let me first take issue with those who would try to glamourize prostitution. These always seems to be some feminist insisting it is a woman's right to be involved in the trade. Bullshit! Not that it isn't a woman's right, but that I believe by far the majority of women involved in street prostitution are not there exercising their right to do so. They are there for a variety of reasons, many of them not of their own choosing.

The question I would ask such a person, or even anyone selling their bodies for sex is this,
"Would you like your daughter to follow in your footsteps? Is this the life you would wish for your daughter?"
I sense the answer would an overwhelming, "No!" There may be some women, at some level, who may enjoy what they do, but most of these girls are not there because they want to be, but because, for one reason or another, they have no other choice. I have sat and spoken with a number of these girls, both in a prison chapel and over coffee in seedy restaurants in inner-city Edmonton, and have heard the wishes hopes and dreams they have for their future. Most would break your heart. At least many did mine. Almost to a woman, they wished to break free of the enslavement of their occupation. One very poignant example was a strikingly pretty young native girl in the jail. She said her ambition when she got out was to get a job in advertising and work in an office building. Trying to keep an interested, or at least neutral expression on my face, my heart just sank within me. Because I knew she didn't stand a chance, the way things then were. She had a practically impossible dream, given her background education and circumstances.

These women who wish to escape the trade need so much support. They need a new community and circle of friends. They need intensive new training and education. They need people to truly love them and walk beside them into a new place in their lives. They need patience, both on their own part and that of those working to help them.

I would love to see more help for them, and I think it would better our society to find ways to provide it. I tried in my own way all those years ago, but I was in way over my head. It's going to take a whole community. Alpha has a program for prison inmates as well as a program of Caring for Ex-Offenders that I would love to see supported and expanded. For more information, and perhaps as a first step in seeing if you can help, please go here. Or check out this facebook page for another fine outreach. These are people who are actually doing something; not just talking or complaining.

There is so much more to say, and I have so many more opinions on various aspects of this issue, but that will be it for now.

Take Care

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