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Vancouver Rape Relief disappointed, one year after prostitution law adopted

Last Updated Dec 10, 2015 at 11:20 pm PST

(iStock file photo)

Local group critical of how new prostitution laws have been enforced.

Vancouver Rape Relief says new sex trade laws have resulted in no arrests.

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – A year ago this week, new laws were adopted to better protect prostitutes in Canada.

But a local group that advocates for victims of sexual assault say the situation for sex trade workers has not improved since the new laws were enacted.

Bill C-36 was meant to criminalize people who buy sex. The federal government was forced to craft a new law after the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the older laws that prevented prostitutes from operating bawdy houses and communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution.

But according to Keira Smith-Tague with Vancouver Rape Relief, while police in places like Winnipeg have laid charges, no arrests have been made in Vancouver under the new law.

She admits that’s not much of a surprise.

“We knew when the Vancouver Police Department said they weren’t going to go after johns, it was bad news. The City of Vancouver said the same thing, so it has been disappointing.”

She says women are no safer now.

“We know the harm that’s done to women in prostitution, and we know this directly from the frontline crisis work we do. The johns and pimps are the men that harm them and exploit them.”

She hopes that as the federal government reviews the law, it retains the section that criminalizes johns, because she says as long as men can buy women, women will be subordinate to men.

She would like to see one change in the legislation however. She says the section that criminalizes women who sell sex in public spaces has to be removed, because she says it has marginalized women who are most at risk in getting arrested in those areas.