Since 2005, the Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution (AWCEP), a feminist-abolitionist organization, has been organizing against the racialization of prostitution, trafficking, and the sexual exploitation of women of Asian ancestry across Canada. In December of 2013, AWCEP was one of the two intervening organizations in the landmark case, Canada vs. Bedford wherein the Supreme Court of Canada struck down laws criminalizing prostituted women. Last month I spoke with AWCEP member Jaclyn Chang about AWCEP’s abolitionist views, the Bedford case and its impacts on prostituted and trafficked Asian women, and their advocacy for the Nordic Model.
The Asian Women Coalition Ending Prostitution is working to abolish prostitution, which we see as a form of male violence against women. AWCEP is working to build awareness about the harms of prostitution to Asian women. We challenge the promotion and imposition of prostitution on Asian women at home in Canada and in our countries of origin throughout Asia. We hold a position that prostitution entrenches racism and multiplies the effect of sexism on all. Solutions to prevent prostitution must address systemic racism, sexism and social and economic disadvantage in order to be effective. The Asian Women Coalition supports the Nordic model of law keeps pimping, recruiting of women into prostitution, brothel-keeping and being a john (buyer-of-women-for-sex) illegal. It allows police and courts to arrest and prosecute the men who are committing these acts. The Nordic model recognizes that women need concrete supports in order to avoid or leave prostitution and commits government to provide adequate resources to women. In the Nordic model, women who are prostituted are not considered criminals and they are not arrested for being prostituted. We are based in Canada and we have connections to women around the world who are also fighting against the normalization of prostitution.