Monday, September 05, 2011

Letter to the Mayor

Following in the steps of my friend Michelle, I'm writing a letter to my elected official, Mayor Bob Bratina, in regards to the legalization of prostitution debate. The following is the letter I sent to Mr. Bratina and our Ward 8 Councillor, Terry Whitehead.

Citizens of Hamilton, I plead with you to familiarize yourself with this debate, Mr. Bratina's stance and take a stand against the possibility of a red-light district in Hamilton.

Feel free to write a similar letter! :)

Mr. Bratina,

It is with sadness that I read the Hamilton Spectator article of June 15, indicating that “a few years ago, [you] said [you]’d like to see a public debate on the possibility of a red-light district or bylaw forcing racy businesses like massage parlours into isolated areas away from schools and neighbourhoods”.

In your statement I see your intent to safeguard our children and neighbourhoods, but what I fail to see is why you would choose to consider a red-light district at all.

As you must be aware, the issue of legalizing prostitution is a hot topic in the courts and now is a critical time for you, our elected leader, to understand the full ramifications of what this decision will mean, should prostitution become legal.

Many people who support legalization often cite Amsterdam for its success. The Amsterdam government had thought legalization and regulation would make organized crime easier to control and women safer within the industry, the opposite has proven true.

Prostitution was legalized in 2000 in Amsterdam but in the last few years, a significant number of brothels and "windows" have been closed because of suspected criminal activity. Because legalization increased demand for paid sex and men from all over the world flocked to the region, human traffickers saw an opportunity to fill the supply side. It is believed that 75% of Amsterdam’s 8,000 to 11,000 prostitutes are from outside of Holland (Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia). Trafficking comes in threes – people, drugs, and guns – and the mayor of Amsterdam has called their decision to legalize an abysmal failure. The city is now back-tracking by shutting down big sections of the red light district.

Please, don’t wait. I urge you to consider the ramifications of legalizing prostitution. If it is not suitable to be near our children and in our neighbourhoods, I would ask you to question whether it is suitable at all?

Beyond that, legalizing prostitution will not prevent it from ending up in our neighbourhoods, across Canada there are homes in middle-class neighbourhoods where men, women and children are being held against their will because they believed the promise of a better life in a new country full of opportunity.

What we would propose is that Canada as a country would adopt the Nordic model, which quite simply make it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them. Pimping, procuring and operating a brothel would also be illegal. The criminalisation of the purchase, but not selling, of sex was unique when first enacted in 1999, but since then Norway and Iceland have adopted similar legislation, both in 2009. This action would protect the women who have been forced into prostitution and would prosecute those responsible, the traffickers and johns who prey on others.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, I would be happy to meet with you at your convenience. (included contact details)

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