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A call to uphold Canada’s Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA)

By Laurel McBride
June 12, 2020

Feminists recognize the system of prostitution as violence against women and as an expression and reinforcement of women’s inequality. It is an industry that commodifies women and girls to be bought and sold by men.

We object to legalizing regimes, at its core, prostitution is a social institution that undermines women’s freedom and bodily autonomy.
Men use their social and economic power to pimp and buy women in prostitution. Frontline knowledge informs us that pimps routinely use threats and acts of violence, along with coercive tactics to keep women in prostitution.

We demand that these men be held accountable for their actions and insist it is the Canadian state’s responsibility to do so. It is a matter of upholding women’s Charter rights to equality and security.

We do not believe women in prostitution should be punished for their unequal status and exploitation they experience and demand they are not criminalized.
Rape Relief argued for legislation that views prostitution as an issue of women’s equality and supported the passing of Bill C-36 and enactment of the Protections of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) in 2014.

In the time that has followed, some police forces have made the purchase of sex an enforcement priority, and others like the VPD, flat out refuse to enforce the law. It must be enforced nationally to protect women and to deter men from the paid sexual exploitation of women.

In addition, women must have robust, accessible supports in order to exit prostitution. The Federal government must invest funding into exiting services that include detox and long-term recovery programs on demand, safe and affordable housing, child care, education and a livable income.

Rape Relief with other feminist groups including Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CAT-W), Formerly Exploited Voices Now Educating (EVE), London Abused Women Centre (LAWC) and Equality Now in calling for PCEPA to be upheld by the federal Liberal government. Join the campaign to keep PCEPA as a measure that gets us one step closer to our goal: the abolition of prostitution.

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