Sexual Exploitation

What is sexual exploitation ?

Sexual exploitation is a complex issue, particularly due to the various situations in which it may occur (brothel, erotic massage parlour, strip club, etc.) and the criminal activities that may be associated with it (pimping, human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes, purchase of sexual services, etc.).

Sexual exploitation, which may take many forms, generally involves a situation, context or relationship in which an individual takes advantage of the vulnerability or dependence of another person, or an unequal balance of power between them, to benefit from the person’s body for sexual purposes. The objective may be monetary, social or personal gain, such as sexual gratification, or any other type of benefit.

Victims of sexual exploitation include victims of human trafficking for sexual exploitation purposes.

The Québec government recognizes sexual exploitation as an abuse of power that cannot be tolerated in a society that upholds the values of justice and equality between men and women. As such, it is considered a form of violence against women.1

Sexual exploitation in Québec

In Québec, as elsewhere, many people, primarily women and teenage girls, are victims of sexual exploitation as a result of lucrative activities associated with the sex industry and prostitution. These activities are well established2 and are controlled, in part, by criminal networks, including street gangs.3 Strip clubs, “extras clubs,”4 erotic massage parlours, escort agencies, and the street are all places where people are sexually exploited, or are at high risk of sexual exploitation.

Criminal offences linked with sexual exploitation

Certain crimes related to sexual exploitation, such as pimping, human trafficking, the production of child pornography and the non-consensual distribution of intimate images, come under the Criminal Code. Other criminal offences linked to prostitution include the purchase of sexual services, communication for the purpose of receiving such services, obtaining financial or material gain from another person as a result of the performance of such services, and the act of knowingly advertising the sexual services of another person for compensation.

Since December 6, 2014, the purchase of sexual services has been illegal at any place and at any time in Canada. “It is therefore prohibited to purchase sexual services from another person, whether a minor or an adult, in exchange for cash payment or any other form of payment (drugs, for example).” [Translation] Source: Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales, Capsule d’information juridique no 25 : L’achat de services sexuels est un crime Cet hyperlien s'ouvrira dans une nouvelle fenêtre., June 7, 2016 [French only].


[1] The Government Policy for Gender Equality, Turning Equality in Law into Equality in Fact

[2] Service du renseignement criminel du Québec, Portrait provincial du proxénétisme et de la traite de personnes. (September 2013), 20 [French only].

[3] “Over half (53.2%) of suspects involved in more than one case of pimping have connections with street gangs.” (Ibid., 14). “It is members of street gangs who are most often named in connection with pimping—so much so that it is considered to be their primary activity in many Québec regions.” (Ibid., 9). [Translation]

[4] “Extras clubs” are places where full sexual services are offered in private booths. (Ibid., 7).