Legalized Sex Trade Threatens More Young, Homeless Kids, Covenant House Fears

TORONTO, ON, Apr. 14, 2012 – Child prostitution, often involving homeless youth, will likely escalate if prostitution is legalized in Canada as it has in other countries where the sex trade is legal, according to Carol Howes, program director at Covenant House, an Ontario-based charity that offers shelter and support service for homeless youth.

The possibility of legalized prostitution in Canada moved a step closer to reality with the Ontario Court of Appeals’ recent landmark ruling that swept away most of the country’s prostitution laws and would see legal brothels, reports the Globe and Mail.

“We fear that more vulnerable kids will be forced into the sex trade as they have in other countries with more relaxed prostitution laws. Often youth who are struggling to survive on the street are easily manipulated into prostitution or coerced with drugs and violence,” Howes says.

As many as 30 percent of Canadian street youth are involved in some form of selling sex, according to a study by New Brunswick’s St. Thomas University.

“In our experience, most kids are not making an informed choice to get into the sex trade. They are most often forced by circumstances and adults who know there is a lucrative market for the young,” she adds. “Many of those who end up involved in prostitution have been sexually abused as children. Often these young people see no other choices or options. When they come to us, they are among the most in need of counselling and support to change their lives.”

Several European countries, including the Netherlands and Germany, where prostitution is legal, are re-examining their laws in the wake of rising human trafficking and child prostitution, reports the Nevada Coalition.

Howes says,“Possible changes to Canadian prostitution laws will do nothing to make street-level prostitution any safer and could increase illicit activity as it has elsewhere.”

Covenant House is Canada’s largest shelter for homeless youth offering the widest range of services under one roof to some 4,000 youth annually.


Contact: Rose Cino
Manager, Communications
(416) 204-7081

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