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Press Release: Vancouver Police Department Enables Men to Buy Women in Prostitution

December 6, 2016

It has been two years since the Canadian Parliament passed the law to criminalize buyers of sex. For the first time in Canadian criminal law, the purchase of sexual services has been prohibited.

However, in spite of police obligation to enforce the law (aka bill C-36), the Vancouver Police Department has been refusing to act on its duty.

Hilla Kerner, Spokeswoman for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter: “For years, the VPD harassed, intimidated, and criminalized women in prostitution. They have finally stopped doing that but they still refuse to actually protect women in prostitution.” Kerner continues: “It is the men -the johns- who are the ones harming, beating, and raping women in prostitution. If the VPD wants to protect women, as they claim, they need to stop these men.”

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, along with many other Canadian women’s groups, called for a law that captures the Nordic Model: one which decriminalizes all those who are prostituted, provides support services to help them exit, and makes buying sex a criminal offence. Kerner: “Although the current laws are not fully capturing this concept, and there is so much more that needs to be done for women in prostitution, criminalizing men is an important and essential first step”.

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

Media contact: Hilla Kerner, 604-872-8212,

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