Pimps and Johns to Gain Impunity 
for the Harm They Cause

VANCOUVER (April 6, 2021) -- The Vancouver Collective Against Sexual Exploitation (VCASE) is calling on the federal Department of Justice to vigorously defend Canada’s prostitution laws. A challenge against them was filed on March 30 in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) came into effect in 2014. It decriminalized the selling of sex, but not the buying of sex. It maintains criminality for the exploiters — johns (buyers), pimps, bawdy houses, massage parlours that sell sex — and for advertising the sale of sexual services of others. It also dedicated $20 million to help survivors of prostitution.  PCEPA is in compliance with the UN Palermo Agreement and respects the human rights of prostituted and trafficked women and children while holding buyers and profiteers accountable.

“We are adamantly against this Constitutional challenge that seeks to strike down PCEPA and make it safer for johns (buyers), pimps, traffickers, and exploiters — the perpetrators of the violence and harm inherent in the sex industry,” VCASE says.

Germany decriminalized the buying of sex in 2002. Now 1.2 million men buy sex every day from over 400,000 women, 90% of whom come from under-developed countries.[i] A German brothel owner said she used to sell sex but now she has to sell violence. The German law has not provided the protection to women and children it promised, and instead has increased violence, life-long physical and mental trauma, and PTSD. Trauma experts and psychologists signed a petition in 2014 calling on the German government to repeal its law, calling it a failed experiment.[ii]

VCASE maintains that decriminalizing the buying of sex will increase the danger and harm associated with prostitution for vulnerable women and children, especially Indigenous and women of colour. Countries that have decriminalized the buying of sex have experienced an increase in the trafficking of women and children to meet the increased demand for paid sex.[iii]

“VCASE aims to see all people live free from the violence of prostitution and asks governments to provide access to tangible and robust funding for exit strategies, holistic mental and physical healthcare, and safe, affordable housing for the 89% who wish to exit and start new lives.”

Canada is seen as a global leader in addressing gender-based violence.  Let’s not change that by telling human traffickers that Canada is open for business. Do we want to grow the appetite in Canadian men for paid sex? Do we want Canada to become a sex tourism destination? Do we want to further exploit Canada’s Indigenous and immigrant peoples? It seems unconscionable that millions of women and children around the world are enslaved into prostitution so that a privileged few (<2%) can have full autonomy. 

VCASE calls on governments and authorities to vigorously enforce PCEPA, provide additional funding and programs to help transition exploited persons out of prostitution, and educate the public with respect to the law and the inherent harm that prostitution causes.