VANCOUVER, September 23, 2004 ( – The so-called ‘harm reduction’ philosophy on social issues has become fashionable among politicians. The mayor of Vancouver, Larry Campbell has asked Ottawa for permission, in the wake of that city’s publicly funded ‘safe’ heroin injection centres, to open one for users of crack cocaine. “It makes perfect sense,” he said and went on to cite the European cities that justify it.  In related news, Libby Davies, MP for the riding of East Vancouver has called for a moratorium on prostitution charges. Using the harm-reduction rationalization, she says that legalization will lower the danger of prostitution-related violence.

Davies presented a motion that charges no longer be laid against ‘communication’ for the purposes of prostitution, the last criminal offense on the books associated with what is now called the ‘sex trade’. Davies failed however to make a case as to how this will improve the safety for women on the streets. She said that specific solutions should be left up to committee members, expert witnesses, and the public.  Suzanne Jay, a spokeswoman for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter rejected the fashionable acceptance of prostitution as a legitimate trade. “The way they’re proceeding now is going to make things worse for women. It’s not labour that’s being sold, it’s the actual human being,” she said. She accuses the government of failing women in prostitution by making it easier for women to continue the practice instead of creating ways for them to get out. She said that legalization has not helped women in Australia. “Their sexual assault rate has gone way up, but their sexual assault conviction rate has gone way down,” she said. “That’s not what I want here.”  The logic also fails to impress Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada. In an interview with Landolt said that she does not see the legalization of prostitution as a solution to the murder of prostitutes. “They haven’t done their homework. Every country that has done it has run into grievous problems. Putting women in brothels never curtailed the street prostitution. It doesn’t work in Australia.”

Landolt went on, “What you have to do is deal with the women themselves. They need safe houses, counseling, clear options.” Connecting the prostitution issue with drug abuse, Landolt said of the harm reduction philosophy, “What they’re trying to do is avoid the problem and not deal with it. All they do is keep them alive until the next injection. There’s no attempt to give them treatment. Harm Reduction causes more death. What we are saying is we don’t care about you.”  ph


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