A Word from Steve Jones: Prostitution in Canada and Bill C-36: We’re Stronger When We Band Together!
Dear pastors, missionaries, chaplains and friends,
Steve here… I want to share a good news story that demonstrates what happens when evangelicals band together—we are stronger together.
In June, the government tabled Bill C-36, the “Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.” Its preamble highlights that the law’s purpose is to protect human dignity and discourage prostitution which disproportionately impacts women and teens. In fact, most prostitutes in Canada are women who enter the sex trade, on average, at 13.5 years of age. Eighty-five percent of these women reported being sexually abused as children, and seventy percent reported a history of incest.
The government’s piece of legislation has clearly recognized these realities. This past November I met with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and seven other evangelical Christian leaders to discuss concerns surrounding prostitution and several other issues. It’s clear to me that the government has heard our message that prostituted women and teens are often the victims of abuse, coercion or desperation and are not typically involved in the sex trade because they desire this lifestyle. This law targets those who buy sex: the pimps (who prey) and johns (who pay). In fact, 15% of Canadian men admit to having purchased sex. This Bill recognizes that the overwhelming majority of prostitutes caught in the oppressive snare of the sex trade are in fact victims, and by prohibiting the purchase of sexual services, we hope to decrease its availability and, possibly, the demand for it.
The government also promises $20 million in funding over the next five years to support grassroots groups in helping those who want to leave prostitution. Clearly that’s not enough, but it’s a good start, and hopefully more will be provided in the future.
The Strength of Banding Together
Bill C-36 is not perfect. It hasn’t addressed everything I had hoped that it would. For some, the fact that the Bill does not criminalize the act of prostitution is a moral and ethical dilemma. I understand that, however, despite this reality, I believe this is a Bill that deserves our support. I expect amendments will be made to the Bill before its passing or rejection in December 2014, but let’s be clear: if Bill C-36 fails… Canada will have no law.
This Bill also reflects the impact of evangelicals banding together to protect those who are some of the most vulnerable and abused in our own society. I believe the government heard our voice and others who are like-minded. I encourage you to stand for the passing of Bill C-36. Consider contacting your MP commending the Bill and express your desire for your MP to support it. Write a letter to our Minister of Justice, Peter MacKay, expressing your commendation. Write a letter to the editor. Get involved in a ministry that is reaching out to prostitutes and helping them leave the sex trade. I recently wrote Prime Minister Harper to express my thanks for this Bill and our commitment to pray for its passing.
Please join me in prayer.
Have a blessed week,