In the Manitoba case of R vs Alcorn, the male perpetrator against an underaged indigenous girl who had been sexually exploited, filmed and then committed suicide, appealed his sentence. Instead, the justices increased his sentence by four times, setting a new precendent. At the same time, the sex industry was pressuring the Federal Justice Committee to repeal the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) which would normalize the buying and selling of sex in Canada. They want Canada to follow the models set in Germany, the Netherlands, Nevada and New Zealand.
Will this happen? The trend in recent legislation provides no certainty for those of a conservative or religious bent.
Cathy Peters has been a tireless advocate of maintaining the current 2014 version of PCEPA. In the past year, she presented to MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, city councils, regional districts, law enforcment units, school boards, service clubs, universities, high schools, two global summits and recently to the federal justice committee. She says that “legalizing the sex industry… actually increases the size and the scope of the trade leading to more human trafficking, more involvement of organized crime, more prostitution and more violence.”
The original Bill (C-36) was designed to protect those who sell their own sexual services; protect communities, and especially children, from harms caused by prostitution, and to reduce the demand for prostitution and its incidence. The law, now in place, “seeks to protect the dignity and equality of all Canadians by denouncing and prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, the exploitation of the prostitution of others, the development of economic interests in the sexual exploitation of others and the institutionalization of prostitution through commercial enterprises, such as strip clubs, massage parlours and escort agencies that offer sexual services for sale. It also seeks to encourage victims to report incidents of violence to the police and to leave prostitution.”
The maximum penalty for an offence against a child is ten years imprisonment or a minimum of 6 months for a first offence and one year for subsequent offences. For adults, a maximum of 5 years imprisonment or a minimum of 18 months with fines escalating from $500 or higher if the action is committed in a public place next to a park, school, religious institution or place where children can reasonably be expected to be present.
PCEPA has four parts to it. 1) it criminalizes the buyers of sex and profiteers. 2) it recognizes the seller of sex as a victim who is immune from prosecution. 3) it provide strategies to assist victims wanting to exit the sex trade. 4) it lays out robust education prevention and a roll out campaign so youth, children and the vulnerable are not lured into the sex industry.
Peters says that the law, as is, pronounces that women and girls are not for sale in Canada. She says “prostitution is inconsistent with equality and human dignity.” Recent statistics say there is a 37 percent increase in online victimization of children. There is a 35 percent increase in non-consensual distribution of online intimate images with an increase of 39 percent of youth reporting. There is a 97 percent increase in reports of online luring, and a 74 percent increase in incidents of sextortion involving the platforms youth use every day (Discord, Kick, Facebook, Instagram, What’s App, Reddit, Twitter). 90 percent of grooming, luring, buying and selling of sex occurs online.
If the current legislation is repealed the outcome would result in the: 1) increase in the size and visibility of the prostitution industry leading to more harm to women and children as they are recruited for the increase in demand 2) undermining of the equality of ALL Canadian women by endorsing male sexual entitlement to the most marginalized 3) removal of necessary tools for law enforcement to charge sex buyers and profiteers.
Peters says there are simple things the public can do. 1) alert (immediately) your Member of Parliament and let them know you DO NOT WANT this PCEPA Law repealed in Canada. 2) write the Federal Justice Minister David Lametti. You can reach the office of David Lametti at email@example.com
“Since we share the longest border in the world with the United States, Canada would become America’s Brothel if the sex industry was normalized and commercialized. Indigenous women and girls would be first casualties along with the marginalized.” Peters concludes, “The sex industry has acted with impunity in most of Canada and is a very lucrative business. Organized crime and international crime syndicates are typically involved, and crime follows the money. The sex industry sees an opportunity for full decriminalization of prostitution for all of Canada, unless Canadians overwhelmingly speak up… a modern equal civil society does not buy and sell women and children.”
For Canadians wanting to do more, Peters would welcome both prayers and petitions.