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Johns and pimps targeted in new prostitution bill 0

Mark Dunn. (Andre Forget/QMI Agency)

By Mark Dunn, Senior National Reporter

OTTAWA — The government targets johns and pimps in new prostitution legislation introduced Wednesday while leaving hookers free to ply the world's oldest profession, as long as they do it away from children.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay says prostitutes won't be prosecuted under the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act if they stay clear of places where minors could gather, such as schools, parks, pools, malls, churches, religious institutions and residential streets.

He said amendments to the Criminal Code come down hard on those who exploit women and girls, and for the first time in Canada's history the purchase of sex would become a crime.

"We are targeting johns and pimps, those that treat sex services as a commodity," MacKay said at a news conference.

The government will set aside $20 million in new funding for organizations to help those who were forced into the profession, but want out to start a new life.

MacKay said many are forced into the trade by a "complex array of societal ills such as violence, addiction, extortion, intimidation, poverty and human trafficking."

He said he wants to protect the most vulnerable "by going after the perpetrators, the perverts, those who are consumers of this degrading practice."

The legislation also criminalizes print and online advertising of sexual services, anyone who profits from the exploitation of others, and increases penalties related to child prostitution.

The Criminal Code is being amended after the Supreme Court struck down key provisions last December and gave the government one year to fix the law.

The changes MacKay announced as similar to the so-called Nordic model used by Sweden, Norway and Iceland, which criminalizes customers and pimps but not prostitutes, while funding social programs to help sex-trade workers.

But as MacKay said: "No model will ever make prostitution a safe endeavour."

Mark.Dunn@sunmedia.ca

Twitter:MarkDunnSun

 

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