The laws

Laws governing the sexual exploitation of children.

Legal Age of Protection

The "age of protection" or "age of sexual consent" refers to the age at which the criminal law recognizes the legal capacity of a young person to consent to sexual activity.

Below this age, all sexual activity with a young person, ranging from sexual touching to sexual intercourse, is prohibited. The age of protection targets those who prey upon the vulnerability of youth. The age of protection in Canada is 16 years old.

Criminal Code of Canada

It is illegal for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 years. There are exceptions for young people who are close in age to each other. Close-in-age exceptions exist to protect against the criminalization of consensual sexual activity between peers.

  • It is illegal for an adult to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 16 years. There are exceptions for young people who are close in age to each other. Close-in-age exceptions exist to protect against the criminalization of consensual sexual activity between peers
  • A 14- or 15-year-old can engage in a sexual relationship with another person who is less than 5 years older.

It is illegal for any adult in a position of trust or authority to engage in sexual activity with another person under the age of 18 years.

It is illegal for any person to engage in sexual activity without the consent of another person of any age.

It is illegal for any person to sexually exploit another person under the age of 18. This includes prostitution, pornography, or where the relationship of trust, authority, dependency or any other situation that is exploitative of a young person exists. The Criminal Code of Canada lists several offences in relation to child and youth sexual exploitation.

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Pimping and Procuring Offences

Section 212. (1) prohibits anyone from:

  • procuring or attempting to procure or solicit a person to have illicit sexual intercourse with another person, whether in or out of Canada,
  • inveigling or enticing a person who is not a prostitute to a common bawdy-house for the purpose of illicit sexual intercourse or prostitution,
  • knowingly concealing a person in a common bawdy-house,
  • procuring or attempting to procure a person to become, whether in or out of Canada, a prostitute,
  • procuring or attempting to procure a person to leave the usual place of abode of that person in Canada, if that place is not a common bawdy-house, with intent that the person may become an inmate or frequenter of a common bawdy-house, whether in or out of Canada,
  • on the arrival of a person in Canada, directing or causing that person to be directed or takes or causes that person to be taken, to a common bawdy-house,
  • procuring a person to enter or leave Canada, for the purpose of prostitution,
  • for the purposes of gain, exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in such manner as to show that he is aiding, abetting or compelling that person to engage in or carry on prostitution,
  • applying or administering to a person or causes that person to take any drug, intoxicating liquor, matter or thing with intent to stupefy or overpower that person in order thereby to enable any person to have illicit sexual intercourse with that person, or
  • living wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

Offence—prostitution of person under eighteen

(4) Every person who, in any place, obtains for consideration, or communicates with anyone for the purpose of obtaining for consideration, the sexual services of a person who is under the age of eighteen years is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of six months.


Sexual interference 151.

Every person who, for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of a person under the age of 16 years
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.


Invitation to sexual touching 152.

Every person who, for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a person under the age of 16 years to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the person under the age of 16 years,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.


Sexual exploitation 153.

(1) Every person commits an offence who is in a position of trust or authority towards a young person, who is a person with whom the young person is in a relationship of dependency or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person, and who

(a) for a sexual purpose, touches, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, any part of the body of the young person; or
(b) for a sexual purpose, invites, counsels or incites a young person to touch, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object, the body of any person, including the body of the person who so invites, counsels or incites and the body of the young person.


Punishment

(1.1) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1)
(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.


Definition of “child pornography“ 163.1

(1) In this section, “child pornography” means
(a) a photographic, film, video or other visual representation, whether or not it was made by electronic or mechanical means,
(i) that shows a person who is or is depicted as being under the age of eighteen years and is engaged in or is depicted as engaged in explicit sexual activity, or
(ii) the dominant characteristic of which is the depiction, for a sexual purpose, of a sexual organ or the anal region of a person under the age of eighteen years;
(b) any written material, visual representation or audio recording that advocates or counsels sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act;
(c) any written material whose dominant characteristic is the description, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act; or
(d) any audio recording that has as its dominant characteristic the description, presentation or representation, for a sexual purpose, of sexual activity with a person under the age of eighteen years that would be an offence under this Act.


Luring a child 172.1

(1) Every person commits an offence who, by means of a computer system within the meaning of subsection 342.1(2), communicates with
(a) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of eighteen years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under subsection 153(1), section 155 or 163.1, subsection 212(1) or (4) or section 271, 272 or 273 with respect to that person;
(b) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 16 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 151 or 152, subsection 160(3) or 173(2) or section 280 with respect to that person; or
(c) a person who is, or who the accused believes is, under the age of 14 years, for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence under section 281 with respect to that person.


Punishment

(2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than ten years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.


Trafficking in persons 279.01

(1) Every person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals or harbours a person, or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation is guilty of an indictable offence and liable
(a) to imprisonment for life if they kidnap, commit an aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault against, or cause death to, the victim during the commission of the offence; or
(b) to imprisonment for a term of not more than fourteen years in any other case.


Exploitation 279.04

For the purposes of sections 279.01 to 279.03, a person exploits another person if they
(a) cause them to provide, or offer to provide, labour or a service by engaging in conduct that, in all the circumstances, could reasonably be expected to cause the other person to believe that their safety or the safety of a person known to them would be threatened if they failed to provide, or offer to provide, the labour or service; or
(b) cause them, by means of deception or the use or threat of force or of any other form of coercion, to have an organ or tissue removed.


Traveling for The Purposes of Sexual Offending

Canada has included in its Criminal Code provisions that allow for the arrest and prosecution of Canadians in Canada for offences committed in foreign countries related to child sex tourism, such as child prostitution, as well as for child sexual exploitation offences, such as indecent acts, child pornography and incest. Convictions carry a penalty of up to 14 years' imprisonment


Making child pornography

(2) Every person who makes, prints, publishes or possesses for the purpose of publication any child pornography is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of ninety days.


Distribution, etc. of child pornography

(3) Every person who transmits, makes available, distributes, sells, advertises, imports, exports or possesses for the purpose of transmission, making available, distribution, sale, advertising or exportation any child pornography is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of one year; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of ninety days.


Possession of child pornography

(4) Every person who possesses any child pornography is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.


Accessing child pornography

(4.1) Every person who accesses any child pornography is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of forty-five days; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months and to a minimum punishment of imprisonment for a term of fourteen days.


Interpretation

(4.2) For the purposes of subsection (4.1), a person accesses child pornography who knowingly causes child pornography to be viewed by, or transmitted to, himself or herself.


Aggravating factor

(4.3) If a person is convicted of an offence under this section, the court that imposes the sentence shall consider as an aggravating factor the fact that the person committed the offence with intent to make a profit.



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