Act now to stop sex trade boom – Vancouver Sun, May 30, 2008
This issue has been simmering in the background of the media for a little while. It`s only been recently brought into the forefront of my own attention. I find the article a little confusing. Probably some editor`s handiwork. There are a few views listed in this short article and I find it a little hard to separate who`s who. Maybe it`s just me as I get older.
I attended a forum on the legalization of prostitution hosted by Tenth Avenue Alliance Church. There were a couple of women`s groups in attendance. One was REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity) and another was Genesis Vancouver. The general argument from these groups is not in support of legalization. They feel prostitution, including, but not limited to, escort services, massage parlours, and pornography, is a form of violence against women and children. Legalization would be equivalent to legitimization. They presented statistics from different countries where prostitution is a `controlled profession,` such as the Netherlands and Germany. The numbers say that prostitution has actually flourished under legalization. Legalization in those countries, according to their numbers, has also increased the amount of illegal activity in prostitution in those countries.
The groups were more supportive of a model used in Sweden. Sweden had legalized prostitution for 30 years, but the government felt it was not working. So they went to a partial decriminalization. The johns were considered criminals and the prostitutes were considered victims. Brothels were no longer legalized. This change in legislation, according to the stats provided by REED, lead to a decrease in prostitution in both legal and illegal realms. Of course, the illegal activity may have just gone underground.
So I don`t actually know much about these issues, but these were the arguments presented. I am still in search of material in support of legalization to see what arguments they have. Certainly, the groups listed above had very reasonable arguments for partial decriminalization. I think the most memorable thing from the discussion was the story of a former prostitute and how she felt about her former work and how she feels legalization will not help to make life safer or help prostitutes find a way out of the sex trade.