Decriminalizing prostitution would lead to the exploitation of women and it is, therefore, off the table for the current Conservative government, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says in a report.
"This government condemns any conduct that results in exploitation or abuse and, accordingly, does not support any reforms, such as decriminalization, that would facilitate such exploitation," Nicholson wrote the House of Commons justice committee. "For these reasons, this government continues to address prostitution by focusing on reducing its prevalence..."
Nicholson said the government considers prostitution to be "degrading and dehumanizing" and that it is "often committed and controlled by coercive individuals against those who are frequently powerless to protect themselves from abuse and exploitation..."
The majority [of the committee] said that literature shows criminalizing prostitution-related activities in Canada jeopardizes the safety of prostitutes and impedes their access to health and social services...
The two Conservative MPs on the committee refused to sign on with the majority.
Art Hanger, one of the Tory members, told reporters at the time that decriminalizing prostitution would make it "open season" on women and cause cheering among "pimps, drug pushers and organized criminals..."
Nicholson, in his response, concurred that "those involved in prostitution are at a significantly greater risk of abuse and exploitation."
He added that education, awareness programs, helping people leave lives of prostitution, and consistent enforcement of the law are tantamount to safety. He stopped short of accepting a committee recommendation to develop educational programs about the costs and risks of getting into prostitution. He listed several initiatives already in place across Canada.
The committee was asked under the former Liberal government to study prostitution laws amid rising concern over the disappearance and killing of prostitutes in western Canada, particularly in Vancouver.
I am happy that the Conservatives are sticking to their guns on this one. This is one instance where the majority in the committee is wrong. Decriminalized prostitution is not a good thing for Canada. It furthers the exploitation and objectification of women. The government must commit itself to helping the powerless. I would like to see the government develop better programs to help women leave a life prostitution. I would also like to see tougher sentences on pimps, johns and anyone else involved in the exploitation side of the so-called "sex-industry."