Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, this is the reality in nearly every province in Canada. The average age of entry into prostitution is 14. I have met sex workers who were recruited when they were just 12 or 13 years old.
According to the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada 2008 report, a pimp can earn $280,000 annually or about $900 a day from one girl. This shows just how enormous the battle before us is; it will require a great deal of political courage.
I urge all of my colleagues, men and women alike, to think very seriously about the kind of society we want our children to grow up in. Soon, perhaps next year, we will have to have a closer look at a fundamental question that many societies have faced recently: are we ready to legalize prostitution in Canada? We will have to answer that question, because the Supreme Court decision in Bedford v. Canada will be coming soon.
I believe that Canada can lead the way on this issue in the Americas. I believe that prostitution is not a job, but rather a form of violence against women. The legalization of prostitution is a scourge in many countries around the world, especially in Europe where there has been a constant and significant increase in human trafficking and child prostitution.
I want to live in a country where our daughters are not treated like objects to be bought and sold. Legalizing prostitution means that all women can be prostituted. Contrary to what one may think, prostitution is not a women's issue. It is a problem initiated by men, a system of exploitation that, unfortunately, has been set up by men and for men who go to prostitutes. As someone who takes the lead in most debates, it is interesting to see that women are taking the lead on this issue.
Here is a fairly interesting example that shows the true face of this fight. A female MP in France is fighting to criminalize the purchase of sexual services, as is currently the case in Sweden and Norway. France therefore wants to go after the men purchasing these services, who are often referred to as clients. They are not clients. They are people who support prostitution and who go to prostitutes. They are just as responsible for this system as pimps. Believe what you will, but after this fight began in France, hundreds of men signed a petition in which they claimed the right to purchase sexual services.
The petition was titled “hands off my whore” and the petitioners included writers, actors, a lawyer, a journalist and many others. This showed the real face of prostitution in France.
Grégoire Théry, a member of France's high council for gender equality, has said that johns are not poor, sexually deprived men. They are well-connected men of power who will not stand for the government prohibiting them from exchanging money for sexual acts.
I know that we have to have this debate in this chamber. I am therefore asking all the women in the House, who make up about 20% of MPs, to stand up and refuse to legalize this form of violence that we call prostitution. We need to have this political courage for our children, our sisters and our daughters.
I also invite all of my male colleagues to support the female representatives in the House when the time comes to consider this issue. I am asking them to do so for their daughters and their wives, but particularly for their sons so that they can grow up in a country and a society where human beings are not for sale.
I would like to thank all of my colleagues for supporting this bill.