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Indigenous Women Continue to Fight for the Abolition of Prostitution

By Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry
December 20, 2013

As Indigenous women and girls who have experienced centuries of colonial male violence, the decision by the supreme court of canada to strike down the existing prostitution laws comes as no surprise. Our histories, our laws and traditions, and our worldviews have been purposefully omitted from the supreme court decision. Once again, not only our voices, but our bodies and our lives have been dismissed as inconsequential. 

As women and girls indigenous to this land, who have resisted centuries of colonial oppression, we assert our right to our lands, cultures, laws, and body sovereignty. We reject any ruling that interferes with these unalienable rights. We pledge to continue in the proud tradition of our Mothers and Grandmothers and to continue to fight for our children and grandchildren. 

We are in a pivotal moment. We have the ability – and the responsibility – to change the course of history. We urge all those who seek justice, freedom, and equality to look beyond the decision rendered by the supreme court and to listen to the voices, experiences, and wisdom of Indigenous women and girls. Prostitution was not and is not a traditional practice among Indigenous peoples. We ask all those who seek justice, freedom, and equality to view prostitution as a colonial system and as a form of violence against women and girls that must be abolished.

We see an opportunity for all of us to work toward a better future – a future in which our daughters are not handed over to pimps and johns to be violated, abused, and thrown away. We see hope in the supreme court’s decision to decriminalize prostituted women and girls. The next step is to stand up for the rights of Indigenous women and girls by criminalizing the source of the harm in prostitution – the pimps and the johns. This would be a truly progressive act in the interest of women’s equality. 

In addition to laws that criminalize the pimps and the johns, we also demand funding for social policies and programs that prevent women and girls from entering prostitution in the first place, and that help us as we exit and heal. This includes, but is not limited to, safe and affordable housing, guaranteed livable income, counseling, job training, and women-only detox and recovery services. We also demand the government educate itself and the public about prostitution as a form of colonial male sexual violence against women and girls.

We ask the public and policy makers to stand in solidarity with us and to adopt the Nordic Model of prostitution policy. Do not be “tricked” into supporting the decriminalization of pimps and johns as progressive legal and social policy. We are Indigenous women and girls who have survived hundreds of years of colonialism, male violence, and capitalism, and we are not going away. We are proud to be part of a global feminist abolitionist movement, and we ask you to join us in our fight for freedom.

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