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Local rape crisis centre to testify on prostitution bill

By Jane Deacon

QMI Agency file photo.

QMI Agency file photo.

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter will continue its support of criminalizing the demand for prostitution when representatives testify before the Senate next week.

Representatives will be speaking in response to Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which was introduced by Justice Minister Peter McKay earlier this year. Tabled in June, the bill criminalizes the buying of sex, among other penalties.

The organization’s stance is that violence against women is inherent to prostitution and johns should be held accountable for that violence, said front-line worker Keira Smith-Tague.

“We know that prostitution reinforces men’s power over women and entrenches the inequalities between men and women,” she said. “We know that the majority of women in prostitution face violence from the men who buy them.”

Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, which is the oldest rape crisis centre in Canada, will call for an amendment of the bill to prevent the prosecution of women.

“We know that the majority of those women who are forced to prostitute in public space are often impoverished and racialized, and that’s why we don’t think they should be further criminalized for their own exploitation,” said Smith-Tague. 

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