Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Letter of the Day

Victimizing the young

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As the mother of six and supporter of victims of exploitation in Canada, I was disappointed to read the Free Press's argument for legalizing prostitution in Canada in its Dec. 20 editorial, Sex trade ill-served by the law. Legalization should never be considered in Canada.

Let's take a look at the facts. A 2006 study reviewing the links between prostitution and sex trafficking found that in the Netherlands, which has legalized prostitution and brothels, 60 per cent of prostituted women suffered physical assaults, 70 per cent experienced verbal threats of physical assaults, 40 per cent experienced sexual violence and 40 per cent had been forced into prostitution or sexual abuse by acquaintances.

After Sweden and Norway legalized prostitution in the 1990s, both countries reversed their decision and focused instead on "targeting the market" -- the men who buy sex. Now, clients who buy sex are receiving jail terms.

The average age of most sex-trade victims entering prostitution is 14-16, when they are not legally capable of consent. Many women's advocacy groups and anti-human trafficking NGOs do not regard prostitution as a legitimate form of employment, but rather as a form of violence and oppression against women. In Canada, the large majority of women's groups are against legalization, including: Walk with Me, Aboriginal Women's Action Network, Native Women's Association of Canada, National Council of Jewish Women and Sex Trade 101, to name a few.

As a nation, we have learned that legalizing prostitution only victimizes the very young.

JOY SMITH

MP, Kildonan-St. Paul

Ottawa

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 21, 2012 A13

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