In a recent court decision, the Ontario government has effectively paved the way for the legalization of brothels.
Unfortunate as this may seem on one level, from the moral perspective of us as Christians, I nevertheless think it’s the right thing to do. I generally agree with this opinion piece by Jonathan Kay on the matter.
I have revealed my libertarian streak previously, and I do so here again.
Prostitution is already legal in Canada, though the law has been riddled with inconsistencies: it has remained illegal to solicit for prostitution, and effectively illegal for johns to attempt to purchase it, which is logically absurd.
Yes, it is immoral, and spiritually ruinous to those who participate, both sellers and buyers. But it is the world’s oldest profession; one finds mention of it in the Bible from quite early on, in Genesis. And while it is condemned in Scripture, it doesn’t appear anywhere that the authorities in Old Testament Israel undertook moral and legal crusades against it to try to end it, and it appears God’s harshest criticisms against prostitution are levelled against the specific practice of temple prostitution, mentioned in the Law rather than in the Wisdom literature like Proverbs. And no wonder that offends God so much more, since that combines prostitution with worship of pagan idols; an abomination to the Lord, indeed. By contrast, the practice of regular, ordinary, commercial prostitution, while condemned, doesn’t come in for the same level of condemnation, and one can conclude that its existence, while unfortunate and tragic, is not so offensive to God, or the authorities in Old Testament, that it needed to be wiped out.
Brothels of course already exist, posing as ‘massage parlours’, but these are still more or less illegal, which doesn’t make sense itself, since prostitution itself is legal. Legalizing brothels while keeping pimping and street prostitution illegal, will make street prostitution less attractive an option, which will safeguard those unfortunate women who do make such a poor ‘career’ choice from abusive pimps, and murderous johns, thus hopefully eliminating the kind of killing sprees that Jack the Ripper in 19th-century London, England, and Robert Pickton in Vancouver, Canada in our century, were able to carry out. And it will also have the benefit – if authorities also crack down harder now on street prostitution – of removing street prostitutes from city streets and residential areas, improving the quality of life for people living and working in such places. Governments will be able to restrict, through zoning laws, the places where brothels can be set up, to commercial areas, which is a good thing. And they will be able to set up, through licencing, regular medical check-ups / treatment for prostitutes, like they do in the Netherlands and Germany, which is also a good thing.
Naturally, some oppose the court’s ruling, including some ex-street-prostitutes:
Several former prostitutes angered by the decision, said the court’s ruling will prevent social workers and police from intervening to rescue underage prostitutes and sends the wrong message to children that prostitution is an acceptable career, several said.
“I worked the street for 15 years and this won’t keep anyone safe,” said Katrina MacLeod, who now works with Walk With Me, a group working to help women out of the sex trade. “It’s more than troubling, it’s disgusting.”
Bridget Perrier, tearful and angry, held up a metal coat hanger twisted into a baton, saying it is a tool known as a “pimp stick” — heated up under a flame and then used to whip and beat prostitutes.
“This is what my pimp used on me, every day. I was beaten with one of these. It’s not just these, it’s curling irons, Tasers, razor blades. I cannot give birth because my inner organs being used and abused from a young age. I entered the sex trade at 12 years of age and everyone needs to be shown a way out,” said Ms. Perrier, who now works for Sex Trade 101, another group helping women leave prostitution.
She called on anti-prostitution laws to be strengthened to stop men preying on vulnerable women, not loosened.
Tragic as Ms. Perrier’s tale is, her argument is absurd, because the very existence of brothels provides an alternative, to street prostitution and street pimps forcing their girlfriends, etc., into such a lifestyle; women who foolishly, immorally, wish to become whores, will be able to do so in a safer environment altogether. Her arguments are as ridiculous as those of people opposed to drug legalization who claim that crime will increase, whereas it’s the very fact of drugs being illegal that causes the crime element to be involved in the drug trade, in the first place. And Ms. MacLeod makes the same mistake; again, the existence of a legal alternative to street prostitution, should make street prostitution a less attractive option, for those so inclined to such ‘work’.
As I said above, unfortunate as this may seem on one level, that our society seems to be legally endorsing a practice that Christians find immoral and repugnant (rightly so, too, because of what Scripture teaches about it), just because something is immoral, it does not automatically follow that it should be illegal (else we’d have laws against adultery, white lies, gossip, etc.). And sometimes, difficult choices are the right ones to make. I believe the Ontario Court of Appeal has made such a right choice, in its ruling.
Post-Script: I noticed the article pointed out that “The thorny issue transcended traditional ideological divides, with conservative religious groups finding strange allies in feminist activists in their support of retaining the prostitution restrictions.” – interesting indeed, that. That should give such conservative religious groups pause, that they find themselves having feminazis who hate men, as their bedfellows on this matter.