University Women Concerned New Prostitution Legislation Continues to Criminalize Women

OTTAWA – June 5, 2014 – The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) is concerned that Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will continue to punish and criminalize women for selling sex, and fails to address the social, economic and racial inequalities that push women into prostitution.

“While CFUW agrees with the aspects of the bill that focus on criminalizing the purchase of sex and targeting demand, we are concerned by the provisions that will make it illegal to sell sex in some public spaces”, said Susan Murphy, President of CFUW. “We agree with the government’s assessment that prostitution is harmful to women, but criminalizing them is not the answer”.

Since 2010, CFUW has supported the adoption of a legal framework similar to Sweden, where women are fully decriminalized and comprehensive exit services are provided. Sweden also has a more robust social safety net, which allows women to enjoy a higher degree of economic and social equality in comparison to women in Canada.

“Bill C-36 continues to treat prostitution as a public nuisance, and will likely replicate some of the safety issues that arose with the previous communication law struck down by the Supreme Court”, said Ms. Murphy. “Far too many women are forced into the sex trade as a result of poverty and inequality. The funding earmarked for exit services is laudable and a step in the right direction, but more is needed to address root causes”.

With the rising cost of post-secondary education and students having difficulty finding summer jobs, even some young women are turning to prostitution using the internet to pay for their university and college education. CFUW finds it egregious that the Government of Canada would criminalize these young women trying to make ends meet. Instead the government should address rising tuition fees and improve access to decent jobs for young people.

CFUW is a non-partisan, voluntary, self-funded organization with over 100 CFUW Clubs, located in every province across Canada. Since its founding in 1919, CFUW has been working to improve the status of women, and to promote human rights, public education, social justice, and peace.

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For more information, contact: Robin Jackson, Executive Director, Canadian Federation of University Women, 613-234-8252, ext. 102, executivedirector@fcfdu.org

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