Communiqué: Ontario Superior Court Challenge: Total decriminalization of prostitution is not the solution, says Montreal abolitionist group

Montreal, October 6th, 2009 – The Coalition for Struggles Against Sexual Exploitation – CLES – is concerned by the increased violence against women involved in prostitution that could follow from invaliding all Canadian Criminal Code restrictions on prostitution.

CLES includes female survivors of prostitution, women who have been exposed to violence both on the street and behind the doors of brothels and bars. After a year of working together on these issues, CLES is convinced that it is false to affirm that TOTAL decriminalization – including immunity for johns and pimps – would improve women’s quality of life. In fact, it has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions that across-the-board decriminalization is usually followed by the adoption of a gamut of regulations and laws that have a number of harmful consequences. Pimps are transformed into mere “business men”, clients become legitimate “consumers”, and women become more exposed to victimization through physical abuse, trafficking and other forms of abuse.

Where full decriminalization has been attempted, reputable studies have shown that the sex industry and sexual tourism expand and that society evolves according to a market model, providing ever more women’s bodies at ever lower cost for buyers. This specifically happened in The Netherlands, where the government totally lost control over the situation and is now attempting to close down most of Amsterdam’s red-light district, taken over by organized crime.

CLES feels that prostitution is violence against all women and that total decriminalization will only legitimate the commoditization of women’s bodies.

“Together – female survivors of multiple types of violence -, we say YES to decriminalizing the persons exploited in prostitution and NO to decriminalizing the people who profit from their prostitution: the clients and the pimps. No to the commoditization of women bodies!”

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For more information, please contact: Axelle Beniey, Communications Officer, Coalition for Struggles Against Sexual Exploitation (CLES)