March 29, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After the Ontario Court of Appeal legalized brothels this week, the pictures that were broadcast throughout the land perhaps said it all. There among the celebrants was “dominatrix” Terri-Jean Bedford with whip in hand, lining up with lawyers and other “sex trade” workers to welcome a new day of hedonism while ostensibly participating in a news conference. If anyone saw the irony, or perhaps the perverse humour, in a whip-wielding advocate of prostitution emerging from a courtroom to proclaim the inherent “safety” of working in a bordello, it was surely lost on the approving media.
But by striking down section 210 of the Criminal Code of Canada and launching an open season for brothels and sex houses, the fallacy of “harm reduction” strikes again and the court is affirming the error and reinforcing the delusion that prostitution is made safe via the venue that
it is practiced in. Let us be clear: prostitution is a social ill that is unsafe at any time or place.
The decision also amends Section 212 of the Criminal Code because it criminalizes “non-exploitive” relationships between a prostitute and another person. For legal purposes, a pimp is defined as one who lives off the avails of prostitution “in circumstances of exploitation.”
So the court has described a pimp but just how is exploitation defined? The definition of pimping has been broadened to such an extent that exploitation will have to be demonstrated to the extent that it satisfies a court of law. This is a relationship that could well prove difficult to verify and substantiate in that legal context.
But clearly the most dangerous leap of logic in this entire challenge to the existing prostitution laws is the concept of harm reduction. Legalized prostitution is about as safe as injecting heroin in a “safe” injection site – it’s not. The argument – and erroneous reasoning – is the same. Having sexual relations with multiple anonymous partners every day is about as safe as putting poison into your bloodstream – it can cause disease and kill you. Whether the act occurs in a four star hotel or a condemned flophouse, a pseudo-hospital room or a back alley, the act is inherently unsafe.
Instead of just asking how many prostitutes fall victim to violence each year, we should be asking how many are perishing as a result of choosing this inherently unsafe practice with its sexually transmitted diseases and the collateral damage caused by destructive lifestyles that are rarely far from drug addiction and despair.
What is the total cost of this – dare we say – sin upon our society? How many lives are destroyed and how much hopelessness is created? Hollywood has glamourized prostitution for decades with films like Pretty Woman, where the so-called “oldest profession” is presented as empowering when in reality it is impoverishing. With the courts now essentially recognizing prostitution as a trade and workers within that trade as worthy of employee protection, the process of legitimization continues. But this is no trade, no profession, no legitimate occupation of any kind – just a vile commodity that brings shame upon both buyer and seller.
If Canada liberalizes its prostitution laws, we will not be the first country to make sex for cash an activity of greater ease and accessibililty. But we will not be creating a business like any other business. A similar approach to lawlessness has transformed many parts of Europe into one large brothel; these nations are now struggling with the consequences of their libertine legislation because prostitution has become even less safe as a result of complete legalization than it ever was. According to the mayor of Amsterdam, legalized prostitution just brought in bigger criminals while the Netherlands has become a top destination for the victims of human trafficking.
During the waning years of the Paul Martin regime, a subcommittee of the House of Commons Justice Committee examined this issue, with a view to the complete legalization of prostitution. Recently retired Calgary MP Art Hanger (who would eventually become the Chairman of the committee after Stephen Harper became Prime Minister) was a member of that subcommittee and one of the few voices of dissent at the time.
First, by releasing their travel agenda to the national media, he squashed an attempt by this inquisitive subcommittee crew to initiate a world cathouse tour that would have included trips to Reno, Amsterdam and Liverpool to “study” prostitution. Then he stood up to the long line of committee witnesses and their parliamentary allies by refusing to treat prostitution like it was no less legitimate a business than real estate or haberdashery. Hanger summed up the efforts of this sorry gang thusly: “Liberals want to make sin safe. They promote a culture of death when we should be promoting a culture of life.”
Just as they do by refusing to protect the rights of the unborn child, social liberals are still promoting a culture of death.
David Krayden is the executive director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Studies, an independent, not-for-profit institution dedicated to the advancement of freedom and prosperity through the development and promotion of good public policy.