Resolution 2009.01: Exit Strategies for Prostituted Persons[print_link] Submitted by: B.C. & Yukon Provincial Council
Whereas, Persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution require safe and reliable access to the services crucial to begin their rehabilitation; and
Whereas, Problems that lead into a life of prostitution also act as obstacles to exiting; and
Whereas, A higher success rate is shown when exit strategies meet economic, social and educational needs; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, urge the federal government to provide sustained core funding to the provinces and territories for services that meet the needs of persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution and to regain control of their lives; and, be it further
Resolved, That the national council of The Catholic Women’s League of Canada, in 89th annual national convention assembled, encourage provincial councils to urge the provincial, territorial and municipal governments to identify and support institutions and organizations offering rehabilitation services for persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution.
BRIEF: Exit Strategies for Prostituted Persons
In 1990, the Fourth Report of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, in Chapter Four: the Legal Response to Prostitution, recommended, “That government departments develop start-up programs and core funding to community-based agencies providing programs accessible and responsive to the needs of sex workers wishing to leave the industry” (House of Commons Report, Chapter Four).
Again in 2006, the report of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Solicitation Laws, Chapter Seven, recommended: “The government must also work with other levels of government, institutions, and non-governmental organizations to develop exit strategies to assist those involved in prostitution who wish to leave in regaining control of their lives” (House of Commons, Federal Working Group, Chapter Seven, Recommendation 4).
“In addition, the federal government should consider increasing transfer payments to the provinces to enable them to provide significant resources for income support, education and training, poverty alleviation, and treatment for addictions, while respecting provincial areas of jurisdiction” (ibid, Recommendation 7).
There are various reasons for getting into prostitution. Some people are forced by a third party, others do it to make ends meet, or to cope with a drug habit or a life marked by violence or incest. Many such people unfortunately become trapped in prostitution (House of Commons Study, p. 11). The problems that lead prostitutes into a life of prostitution also act as obstacles to exiting; problems such as inadequate housing and drug addiction can be prominent barriers. Exiting is not a one-time event, but rather is a process characterized by stops and starts. Many sex workers want to exit, yet permanently exiting prostitution involves an enormous effort.
The Swedish Model on Prostitution focused its government-funded initiatives on supporting the women involved, and allowing “their specific needs economically, socially, psychologically and educationally to be addressed” (Swedish Model, 16). It ensured provisions for funding realistic exit strategies and included research into addressing the root causes for entry into prostitution and factors which can inhibit permanent exit (ibid 11). As a result of the initiatives and educational programs, 60% of the prostitutes in Sweden succeeded in exiting prostitution (ibid 11).
Since it appears that no government (federal, provincial, territorial or municipal) has the ability to take action independently (The Vancouver Foundation, 5), and given the complexity of the situation across Canada, the League urges the federal government to promptly implement recommendations four and seven of the report of the Working Group on Solicitation Laws as outlined above. The League recommends a coordinated approach, under the umbrella of one federal ministry, with sustained core funding, to enable provincial, territorial and municipal governments to identify and provide solutions for those persons who want to use exit strategies from prostitution.
House of Commons. Federal/Provincial/Territorial Working Group on Prostitution. Report and Recommendations in respect of Legislation, Policy and Practices Concerning Prostitution Related Activities. 2005. www.walnet.org/csis/reports/consult.rtf.
House of Commons. Fourth Report of the Standing Committee on Justice and the Solicitor General on Section 213 of the Criminal Code (Prostitution-Soliciting). Chapter Four: The Legal Response to Prostitution. 4 October 1990. www.cmte.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/committee/391/just/reports/rp2599932/justrp06/10-chap4-e.htm.
House of Commons. The Challenge of Change: A Study of Canada’s Criminal Prostitution Laws. Chapter Two: A Profile of Prostitution in Canada. www.cmte.parl.gc.ca/Content/HOC/committee/391/just/reports/rp2599932/justrp06/08-chap2-e.htm.
Ruhama Women’s Project. Analyzing the Swedish Model on Prostitution. October 2007.
The Vancouver Foundation. Living in Community: Balancing Perspectives on Vancouver’s Sex Industry. www.livingincommunity.ca.
Write letters to federal government including the prime minister, ministers of justice, provincial attorneys-general and territorial equivalents, local members of parliament and provincial representatives urging a coordinated approach under one federal ministry to devise solutions for persons wanting to exit a life of prostitution.
Provide educational awareness opportunities such as inviting guest speakers.