Media Fact Sheet: Prostitution and Trafficking

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Media Fact Sheet - Prostitution in Canada

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75 out of 106, or 71% of participants in a study in Northern BC reported
entering prostitution between the ages of 11-19

Source: In the North from Corner to Corner: The needs, trends and working conditions of sex workers in Prince George, British Columbia Christal Capostinsky 2007 Document of New Hope Society

65-90% of prostituted women have been incested.

Council of Prostitution Alternatives Portland Oregon Annual Report 1991

82% of prostituted women in a Vancouver study reported a history of childhood sexual abuse by an average of four perpetrators.

90% of these women had been physically assaulted in prostitution. Of those physically assaulted in prostitution 82% were by ‘customers’. 78% of respondents had been raped in prostitution.

95% of those participants stated they wanted to leave prostitution.
Prostitution of Indigenous Women: Sex Inequality and the Colonization of First Nations Women Farley, M and Lynne J. 1998

Between 700,000 and 4 million people a year are affected by trafficking in persons. The vast majority of people who are trafficked are women and children, and 92% of victims are trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation.

Turning Outrage into Action to address trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation in Canada. Report on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women 2007

“In the absence of legal restrictions on prostitution, there is ample evidence from other countries that demand for prostitution, and the numbers of women in prostitution, will increase. Pimps, traffickers and so-called prostitution tourists will be attracted to this legal vacuum. Research from jurisdictions with legalized prostitution also indicates that the safety issues that some hope will be addressed by legalization or decriminalization are unlikely to be improved. Nevada and Amsterdam, for example, still maintains dangerous and illegal street prostitution industries despite legalized brothels and regulatory schemes. There are typically many more women in illegal prostitution than in legal establishments.”
Janine Benedet, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, U.B.C. June 2008


Media Backgrounder:

Alternatives Canada Could Be Considering Now Re. Prostitution:

ScandinavianResponses to Prostitution

1999, Sweden passed legislation that

1. Criminalizes the buying of sex.

2. Decriminalizes the selling of sex.

3. A third and crucial element of Sweden's prostitution legislation provides for ample and comprehensive social service funds aimed at helping any prostitute who wants to get out, and additional funds to educate the public.

The rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government's literature on the law:

"In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem... gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them."

2007, Finland developed a prohibition against buying sex from victims of human trafficking. 

2009, Norway criminalized the purchasing of sex.

2009, Iceland made it illegal to pay for sex. The Icelandic Parliament passed new legislation that makes paying for sex illegal (the client commits a crime, but not the prostitute). Opinion polls have shown that up to 70% of the Icelandic population supports banning the purchase of sexual services.

2009, Iceland banned strip clubs.

*In each of these countries, the women are decriminalized and the focus is on the male buyers.