Prosecute johns, not prostitutes

By Jerry Agar, Toronto Sun

Andrea Swanson is the only person on the plane to Las Vegas not partying. The party started as soon as the plane lifted off; people drinking and loosening up for the good times.

She looks down the aisle and wonders which of the men she sees, off to where what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, might be the one that will “buy” her daughter in “Sin City.”

Swanson’s daughter was lured into prostitution by a man who appeared to be a caring boyfriend; a man who in reality preys on young women. Swanson knows they are in Las Vegas, and she is travelling there to try to find her daughter and bring her home.

Her pain reaches out from the screen as she tells her story in the documentary film Red Light/Green Light by Canadian filmmakers Michelle and Jared Brock and Dave McSporran.

The film takes the viewer to nations that have legalized or decriminalized prostitution, advancing the argument that, “Prostitution is a form of systemic violence against women and a major deterrent to women’s equality.” Former prostitutes tell of working under threat of violence, with most of the money going to the pimp, while they service over a dozen clients a day.

Often the most victimized are the most marginalized. In Canada, it is young native women and immigrants.

The film’s web site, www.redlightgreenlightfilm.com, explains the legal model they believe — after interviews with experts, ex-prostitutes and police — is the best way for Canada to deal legally with prostitution.

“This model of law, often called the Nordic Model, is based on the recognition that prostitution is a form of sexual exploitation. It penalizes the buying of sex (johns, pimps), while decriminalizing those who are being sold. Not only has the law made sex trafficking more difficult and less profitable in Sweden, but has also had a normative effect on society by promoting gender equality. Due to its success in decreasing both sex trafficking and prostitution, Norway and Iceland have also adopted the model, and France is well on its way.”

Alberta recently announced its intention to try the Nordic Model.

The Calgary Herald reported last week, “Alberta Justice announced Tuesday it is directing prosecutors to continue bringing cases against men who buy sex from prostitutes, but the new protocol says pursuing charges against sex trade workers is “generally not in the public interest.’” The film points out the law is not just penal, it is normative.

Should prostitution be legalized it will become more acceptable.

Nations that have legalized it have found that the willing supply cannot meet the demand.

Therefore, the illegal activity does not diminish, it increases. Women are trafficked into the trade from outside the country, using coerced and victimized immigrants, as well as from inside the country, as is the case with Swanson’s daughter.

What about the women who say they are in it by choice?

“If you can force a woman in, you can force her to tell a good story to the police,” argues one of the experts in the film.

The Supreme Court of Canada has forced the hand of Parliament by striking down our laws dealing with prostitution.

Parliament has a year to craft a new law.

There is a lot to consider before we give the green light to the red light.

— Agar hosts the 9 a.m. to noon show on Newstalk1010 and Straight Talk on Sun News Network

 


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