Make Vancouver a john-free zone

Meghan Murphy wishes the mayor of Vancouver would uphold the law.

At 5:30 on Tuesday evening, just over 100 people gathered on the front steps of Vancouver City Hall to demand Mayor Gregor Robertson follow through on his commitments to women and girls. The event, organized by Creating John-Free Communities, Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution, and REED, was clear in its aims: Make Vancouver a john-free zone.

In 2009, Robertson signed a declaration naming prostitution as violence against women. Just last year, he signed a second declaration, committing to end “abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of modern slavery, which are crimes against humanity, including forced labor and prostitution.” Today, the Mayor has a real opportunity to keep his word, and to follow through on his promises.

In 2014, Bill C-36: The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act passed, and, under Canada’s new law, paying for sex became illegal. While a number of other cities and provinces have taken action in accordance with the new law, cracking down on pimps and johns, the Vancouver Police Department, under the guidance of the Mayor (who acts as Chair of the Vancouver Police Board, the body that employs and oversees the Vancouver Police Department), have opted to simply ignore the law, stating they will only enforce it as a “last resort.”

Bros before hos, eh?

Since the new law came into effect, women’s groups have urged Robertson to take action. On May 5th, feminist activist Jindi Mehat addressed the Police Board, saying, “Prostituted women are most harmed by the decision to not arrest johns,” but that as a resident of Vancouver, “this decision [to ignore the law] harms all women.” She also pointed out to the Mayor and the Board that holding men accountable means addressing men’s beliefs about entitlement to women’s bodies, exemplified through sexual harassment and assault, as well as through buying sex. In other words, prostitution exists as part of a larger continuum that reinforces rape culture and sends the message that women’s humanity matters less than male pleasure.

Read the whole thing. Murphy has a lot of detail about the protest.

Comments are closed.