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Lack of national data on prostitution in Canada

By Hilla Kerner

The only research on prostitution conducted in recent years by a Canadian government agency about sex-trade-related crime reported by police before and after the 2014 legislation of Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) came from the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS) and published by Statistics Canada in June 2021.

For key findings see here.

This research enables the Canadian government and the public to determine which provinces have been attempting to implement PCEPA by charging men with the new offence of obtaining sexual services from an adult. In addition, the research is useful as it provides  some key themes regarding prostitution in Canada, such as the high number of girls trapped in prostitution and the close connection between prostitution and trafficking.

However, by design, this research is limited in scope and only includes data extracted from cases related to the Criminal Justice System.

Considering that most cases of prostitution will never be reported to police (let alone result in charges against sex buyers, pimps and traffickers), it is essential that the government of Canada collect, analyze and publish data about prostitution in Canada, including contributing factors to women’s and girls’ vulnerability to prostitution, the direct impact of prostitution on women and girls and the overall impact of prostitution on women’s equality and liberty.

Data collection must include (but not be limited) to the following:

  • Prevalence of prostitution
  • Age of entry into prostitution
  • History of victimization from male violence before entry into prostitution
  • Race of women and girls in prostitution
  • Women and girls’ economic status before entering prostitution, while in prostitution, and after exiting prostitution
  • History of involvement in the child welfare system of women and girls in prostitution
  • History of mental health struggles and addictions of women and girls in prostitution
  • Coercive relationships (pimp) that led to both entry into prostitution and while in prostitution
  • Experiences of male violence (johns, pimps) while in prostitution

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