Women’s Groups Reject the Criminalization of Prostituted Women

Thursday, June 12, 2014



June 12, 2014


Women’s Groups Reject the Criminalization of Prostituted Women


Vancouver, BC– In a press conference held today, local equality-seeking groups addressed the new legislation on prostitution (Bill C-36) which is being debated as of yesterday in the Canadian parliament.

For the first time in Canada, the proposed new laws criminalize the buying of sexual services. Trisha Baptie from EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating) says: “As a group of former sex industry women we are heartened to see the government build an excellent framework on which to build equality-based laws. Laws that lay the responsibility for the harms women face in prostitution right at the feet of the men who are the perpetrators of the violence, for we know it was never laws, or locations that beat, raped, and killed us and our friends it was male sex buyers and as such we need to change their behaviors, not find safer, cleaner or indoor ways for them to abuse women.” 

However, the groups are critical of the government’s intent to criminalize prostituted women with this new legislation. Samantha Grey from Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter comments: “We reject any criminalization of women in prostitution. By criminalizing those caught selling sexual services in public places, women in prostitution are still being punished by the state for their lack of choices. In order to fully protect women in prostitution, the federal government must ensure no prostituted woman be prosecuted for her own exploitation.”

The groups are demanding more funding for services that provide real alternatives to women in prostitution. “We need more investment in preventative and exiting strategies and in public education. We think these things are possible and we can have legislation that works towards women's equality" says Cherry Smiley from Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry

Finally, the groups want the government to take the necessary steps to secure all women’s equality. Alice Lee from Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution  says: "In order to protect the most vulnerable and most at risk of exploitation , Canada must strengthen our social, economic and cultural rights and provide the necessary substantive changes that make women’s sexual and racial equality and security real.”


from left to right: Alice Lee, Trisha Baptie, Cherry Smiley and Samantha Grey


About the Organizations:

Since 2005, the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution (AWCEP), a feminist-abolitionist organization, has been organizing against the racialization of prostitution, trafficking, and the sexual exploitation of women of Asian ancestry across Canada.  In December of 2013, AWCEP was one of the two intervening organizations in the landmark case, Canada vs. Bedford wherein the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws criminalizing prostituted women. 

EVE (formerly Exploited Voices now Educating) is a volunteer, non-governmental, non-profit organization composed of former sex-industry women dedicated to naming prostitution violence against women and seeing its abolition through political action, advocacy, and awareness raising that focuses on ending the demand for paid sexual access to women and children's bodies.

Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry (IWASI) is a volunteer group of radical feminists from many nations committed to the abolition of prostitution and pornography. IWASI is committed to ending patriarchy, colonialism, racism, and capitalism.

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter is Canada’s first rape crisis centre. VRRWS operates a 24 hour rape crisis line and transition house for battered women and their children. In the past year alone, VRRWS responded to 1,200 women escaping male violence.


Media Contact:

Hilla Kerner - Vancouver Rape Relief & Women's Shelter, 604-872-8212, [email protected]

Cherry Smiley - Indigenous Women Against the Sex Industry, 778-886-8839 [email protected]

Trisha Baptie - EVE, 604-518-4798 - [email protected]

Alice Lee - Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution, 604-318-3188, [email protected]