coordinator for The Salvation Army in Saskatoon, doesnt
have the easiest job in the world. He runs a rehabilitation
course for clients of prostitutes, also known as johns.
I have one day
to help the men get past their denial, says Brown,
and make them see the harm they are causing to prostitutes,
their families, the community and themselves.
Popularly known as John
School, the alternative measures program originated
in 2000 and more than 360 have taken the course. Since then,
only five are known to have re-offended. If the men
dont take ownership of their issues, theyll
be sent back to court to be dealt with, states Brown.
Failure is not an option.
The eight-hour day begins with prayer. We pray that
God will help the men lower their defences, Brown
says. Its not intimidation and its not
shame-based. Were here to help.
After a brief introduction,
police officials explain legal implications. Its
not jaywalking, adds Brown. This is a serious
criminal offence carrying steep fines.
Police exhibit weapons
confiscated from prostitutes. Former sex trade workers talk
about sordid life on the streets and community health workers
warn of the diseases that can be caught. None of the stories
are pretty. There is no glamour to prostitution and they
want to dissuade the men from any such notion.
explain what its like to live in a red-light area,
where women cant walk down the street without being
accosted. They relate how backyards are routinely checked
for used needles or condoms before children can go out and
After that, a former
john discusses how he got into trouble, the implications
that had for his family and how hes struggled to put
his life back together.
The most emotional part
of the day follows when a couple speaks about how their
daughter met a man at a local fair. Within days, she was
working the streets. The parents nightmare lasted
for years, never knowing if she was safe. Despite their
love and best efforts, the daughter disappeared and her
body was found a couple of years later.
a debriefing where the men each stand in turn and explain
the impact the session has had. By the end of the program,
theyre emotionally exhausted and many are ready to
change their harmful behaviour.
Graduates who meet the
terms put in place by the Crown will not have a criminal record.
For many, the course has also been spiritually life-altering.
Until then, they had been in denial, angry and bitter, so
theyre shocked when Brown tells them about Gods
love. Many are surprised that Jesus would even care
about them, he says. I tell them that Christ has
always been there, waiting for them to unclench their hands
and take his.