The following statement was issued after today’s Canadian court ruling in support of prostitution. People Of Color Organize! has posted abolitionist writings on this subject previously, as the exploitation of women of color in the prostitution industry is inextricably related to capital, profiteering, colonialism, globalization and human trafficking.
As a feminist anti-violence organization, Women Against Violence Against Women (WAVAW) Rape Crisis Centre cannot endorse the prostitution industry in any way and is compelled to challenge any initiatives that support the continuation of such activities, such as the decision made today by the Ontario Appeal Court to legalize brothels.
The prostitution industry makes its money directly from sexual objectification, sexual exploitation and violence against women. In the prostitution industry, women are controlled by the demands of the buyers, by those who pimp their bodies and by the forces of imperialism and colonialism that create the conditions compelling women into the industry. Most women in prostitution have been assaulted or abused while engaging in prostitution activities. We continue to see courts, discussions, and society at large shift away from addressing the real and underlying problem: men’s demand for sex from women. The changes from the court decision will not provide more respect for women.
“Once again the legal system is missing the mark on prostitution. Women will continue to go missing and be murdered, if there is no real work being done to aid women. Social programming and funding into women’s services are what is needed. Hiding women from plain sight to create a false sense of safety in community is not the answer. The women who are engaging in sex work are not the individuals creating the violence; it is the men who seek to exploit women’s bodies. Those men come from the very neighborhoods that these judges say they wish to create safety in; they plan on doing this by eliminating the undesirable social consequences of sex work. The undesirable consequences are that men are able to exploit marginalized, at-risk women in Canada” says Darla Goodwin, WAVAW Rape Crisis Centre Coordinator of Aboriginal Women’s Services.
“If we wish to end violence against prostituted women we need to focus on the root causes of violence against all women: male violence and male entitlement to women’s bodies. As long as we continue to place responsibility for women’s safety on women themselves, instead of the perpetrators of the violence, we fail to address a rape culture where no woman is safe. Today’s ruling is not a step towards ending violence against women in prostitution, it only reinforces the sexist belief that women are for sale” states Carissa Ropponen, WAVAW Coordinator of the Raise It Up! Youth Program.
Our society needs to direct resources and attention to stopping the male demand for sex from women and to ensuring women are safe, respected and valued in our society, instead of making it easier for men to buy women. The court decision today will promote the prostitution industry, increase profits from exploitation of women and children and will further objectify women in our society.
Read WAVAW’s Prostitution Paper “Stepping Out of the Binary: Deepening the Dialogue on Prostitution” for more information.
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