This letter was written by Gloria to educate and empower Canadians about prostitution in Canada. To provide a different perspective on prostitution…it is a form of oppression that violates life, liberty, security and equality.
On August 29, 1963, 200,000 individuals marched towards the Lincoln Memorial to listen to Martin Luther King Jr. deliver one of the most compelling speeches of the 20th century. King’s speech reiterated the promises of equality and the rights to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to all Americans under the directives of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Declaration of Independence. Martin Luther King had a dream of equality and freedom for the oppressed.
In Canada, our own Constitution equally guarantees to male and female persons, “the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof.” However, those who find themselves destitute and forced into sexual oppression are faced with wondering whether these principals are truly reflected in a society where sexual submission to an unknown individual is acceptable legally and morally, so long as there is an exchange of money.
It is futile to believe that there is no urgency at this moment and that the very foundations of equality and freedom do not apply to those who are sexually oppressed. It was only a few months ago that three sex worker advocates convinced a judge that their safety was being compromised because they were not allowed to establish indoor places to sell sex, hire personnel with their prostitution earnings, and engage in sexually explicit communication in public. From these proceedings, the laws criminalizing prostitution-related activities in Canada were struck down.
Although prostitution is not a crime in Canada, Parliament has chosen to curtail prostitution indirectly by criminalizing prostitution-related activities. As such, Parliament’s response focused on preventing the exploitation of those engaging in prostitution and to protect members of the community who are not involved in prostitution. Therefore, the legislation criminalized: a) the operation of a common bawdy house (a place for purposes of prostitution or acts of indecency); b) anyone who lives, wholly or in part, off the avails of prostitution of another person; c) communicating in public for the purposes of engaging in prostitution or obtaining sexual services. Currently, Canadians wait in uncertainty for the Supreme Court of Canada and the Government to review the legislation involving prostitution.
The sale of sex is a multi-billion dollar industry, which is linked to international organized crime. So long as the demand for sex servitude continues to prosper, so will the number of humans trafficked around the world for sex increase. Placing victims of sexual oppression indoors and behind hired security staff only conceals the horrific acts of sexual violence that individuals will submit to and endure. Allowing open public communication and recruitment for sex servitude desensitizes the youngest members of society to the true value of life, liberty, security and equality. The stark reality of prostitution was best described by the 16th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, when he conveyed it as “a form of violence against women, related to men’s historical dominance over women.”
We have come to live in a society where the principals of life, liberty, security, and equality are taken for granted. Where the fight for these principals have been clouded with images of sexual liberation. As those who are sexually liberated continue to provide an entertaining spectacle for all to watch, the clouds will become a thick fog. So much so that we no longer see the victims of sexual oppression being driven into exile in a country that prides itself as free and democratic.
Martin Luther King had a dream of equality and freedom for the oppressed. Therefore, let us come to live in this dream by breaking through the thick fog as a beacon of light and hope for those who find themselves destitute and victimized by sexual submission and servitude. As Canadians we have the responsibility for ensuring that the true values of life, liberty, security, and equality resound throughout all corners of this country, to teach these values to our younger generations, and to lift up those who have fallen victim to sexual oppression into a “sweet land of liberty” and equality.