Monday, February 11, 2008

Canadian government not so progressive ...

It's a good thing the Conservative Party took the word "progressive" out of its name because its policies are anything but progressive when it comes to attitudes towards human sexuality and violence against women.

Granted, the Conservative-run government is to be commended for rejecting a ludicrous proposal to have legal brothels for "sports fans" visiting Vancouver during the 2010 Olympics, as this article reports:

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has flatly rejected calls to decriminalize prostitution and dismissed as a non-starter a Vancouver group's hopes of opening a "co-op" brothel in time for the 2010 Winter Olympics ...

That's sensible, but the basis for that decision is reactionary rather than progressive as it simply maintains an old status-quo. As such, it merely politicizes the issue and leaves it unresolved.

Nicholson was responding directly for the first time to a majority recommendation from the committee that federal prostitution laws be amended to stop charging prostitutes and start prosecuting only those procuring sex, or exploiting the prostitutes, such as pimps and bawdy house owners.

Pressed to weigh in on a B.C. coalition's idea of creating a legal brothel in time for the Olympics, Nicholson told the committee the government's opposition is total, and that it is currently demonstrating its commitment to enforcing federal prostitution laws by defending them against constitutional challenges now before the courts in B.C. and Ontario.

This stodgy stance is very disappointing, as a strong lobby can just as easily pressure government to legalize brothels. With the possibility of an election soon, that could actually happen. The problem is that so few seem to comprehend (or care) that by far prostitutes are victims of violence and desperation rather than uncontrolled nymphomaniacs willingly participating in illicit sex acts. Fewer still are willing to follow Sweden's lead in changing the laws to protect and rehabilitate prostitutes who are trapped in the "lifestyle." I agree entirely with Liberal MP Maria Minna who said:

"He doesn't get it ... The men don't get charged. Who gets the record and gets thrown in the clink, it's the woman. She's the victim."

Nicholson is not the only one that doesn't "get it."

Nicholson was joined at the committee by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Immigration Minister Diane Finley. They described the government's three-pronged approach to tackling human trafficking as prevention, protection of victims, and prosecution of those who coerce others into what has been described a modern day form of slavery.

Day acknowledged that prostitution tends to increase around such major sporting events as the Olympics, but the minister said he does not anticipate a significant increase in the cases of women, children and others being trafficked into Canada during that period. He argued traffickers will be deterred by the tight security, plus strict passport and visa requirements, that go with the Olympics.

Right. Those security measures have really been effective in other countries where the Olympics have been held, haven't they? How bloody lame is that.

Of course, when you live in an ivory tower and refuse to come out into the real world, you wouldn't know that traffickers, um, have ways to get around security measures. That they easily issue fake passports and/or confiscate bona fide ones and drop the facade once they're past security.

And especially you wouldn't (want to) know that trafficking happens routinely on our own continent, in the U.S. and in Canada, as these articles (here and here) illustrate. And in cases like the one of a Montreal-based prostitution ring trafficking 12-year old children (yes, right here in the true north strong and free), border security is beside the point.

There are those out in the real world who know that Vancouver already is a major hub for organized crime gangs ... and are trying to educate an indifferent public and political elite that human trafficking is the world's 3rd most lucrative criminal activity and that the link between organized crime and prostitution is undeniable.

It's a tough row to hoe, and progress is slow.

No comments: