With permission, I am posting a response I received to the article that appeared in Maclean’s http://www.macleans.ca/news/canada/red-light-from-the-church/ My reply will be in the next post on this blog.
The e-mail is from Mr. Brian McConaghy of Ratanak International www.ratanak.org . Mr. McConaghy is a retired RCMP constable, and his organization is a Christian charity that works exclusively in Cambodia helping the country rebuild after decades of revolution, civil war and genocide. Among its several programs is its anti-exploitation work which seeks to remove people from human trafficking and sex slavery through prevention, rehabilitation, and reintegration. Mr. McConaghy was one of the witnesses at the Committee on Justice and Human Rights of the House of Commons of Canada.
I have just read the Macleans article “Anglican clergy calls prostitution bill immoral” ( http://www.macleans.ca/politics/ottawa/anglicans-call-prostitution-bill-immoral/ ) and your associated open letter.
Allow me to first indicate that I totally disagree but in an effort to not contribute to the terribly polarized opinions regarding Bill C-36 even within the Christian community allow me first to acknowledge your sincere motivation to assist those in prostitution. We are so often apt to attribute negative motivations to those who disagree with our position particularly on an issue of such importance. I choose not to do this.
I would ask that you take another long hard look at this issue. The circumstances of prostitution are nowhere near as clear as the article and your letter would indicate. I come to this issue as a Christian who has spent much time dealing with those prostituted, both children and adults, in Asia through the work of an NGO I founded which is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of those prostituted. But I am unusual in that as well as running a Christian NGO I also spent 22 years in the RCMP and worked files that involved prostitution both in Canada and internationally. I was responsible for, and had custody of, the body parts of the women murdered by Willy Pickton and have seen more than my share of the results of prostitution in Canada. If nothing else, I would hope such experience would afford me the privilege of not being dismissed out of hand because I would disagree with your analysis as the above noted article would tend to indicate. I am neither radicle nor irrational but have concluded the opposite to yourself. This is not an easy issue and careful analysis while allowing me to enthusiastically support Bill C-36 does leave me with grave concerns regarding section 213 of the legislation. I believe I have a carful response based on the best available evidence. I believe our response needs to be careful and measured while being tolerant of those who would seek to bring remedy by means we ourselves would not support.
Thus, while respecting your opinion and motivation I would urge you to look once again at the balance of evidence. I would draw your attention to the testimony of just one of the witnesses who presented compelling arguments that should cause us to pause before being too strident or dogmatic in our criticism of Bill C-36.
I would direct you to the testimony of José Mendes Bota, General Rapporteur on Violence Against Women for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I think his evidence is cause for much concern re any form of legalization. http://www.cpac.ca/en/programs/in-committee-house-of-commons/episodes/33908773/ his testimony starts at 16:14. The breadth of his study is very significant and he asks very serious questions regarding the utility of legalization in relation to the protection of those in the sex trade. His answer to the question put in 87:14 is startling in anyones estimation.
I would ask that all concerned in this debate draw from the balance of evidence available to us. This evidence, including many anecdotal experiences of those in prostitution, presents a very grim picture of of what I firmly believe to be a life of abuse for the majority of those we seek to protect.
As one who is motivated by a compassion and careful evaluation of the evidence presented, and the experience of dealing with many prostituted, I would urge against the temptation to presume this is simple and that those in disagreement with with your position are somehow superficial in our understanding or un-compassionate, blindly driven by doctrine. Such would be a grotesque caricature of many who seek to be a blessing the disadvantaged women around them. The words for Rev. David Opheim “There’s a large number of people who follow a particular Christian doctrine who feel they must impose all of their dogma on everybody else” in this context, are singularly unhelpful and appear dismissive of any who would apply their faith, dispassionately study the evidence and form opinions at variance with his. Perhaps his opinions would be moderated if he had seen as many rescued from sex slavery as I have or held as many dismembered body parts as I have been forced to examine.
I would urge caution and respect in our discourse.
Brian McConaghy MSM, BA.