FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 10th, 2014
(OTTAWA) The Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution (AWCEP), an intervenor in the Canada v. Bedford case in 2013, has been asked to appear as expert witnesses to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights regarding Bill C-36, the proposed new laws on prostitution.
Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution calls for a tailored approach that takes into account sex and race equality principles. The proposed legislation would be better aligned with our Charter Rights and Freedoms if it contained provisions to stop arresting women who are prostituted,no matter where the exploitation takes place, while still allowing police and our criminal justice system to continue to address the source of the harm. However, we recognize the positive step forward in that both the Supreme Court of Canada and the proposed legislation recognize the dangers inherent to prostitution for women. It is positive that the draft of Bill C-36 attempts to address the cause of the harm in prostitution done by the buyers, sellers and profiteers. The proposed legislation sends a clear message that sexual exploitation is not acceptable.
Suzanne Jay of the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution said she was pleased that the government had recognized prostitution was not inevitable and cracked down on advertising that “sexualize racism and normalize racism.”
Her group is concerned that images of Asian women as “sexy Asian girl”, “Japanese school girl” and “geisha” perpetuate subservient stereotypes that affect them in their day-to-day life.
But Jay, a feminist, said she is deeply troubled by the government’s attack on sex workers.
“They snuck in the ability to criminalize women,” she said.
"The source of the danger is the johns and pimps, not the laws themselves although the laws can be complicit. We view prostitution as violence against women... women do not see it as a job, they see it as a way to survive... we need to not punish women for being racialized or in poverty..."