Feeds

Canada prostitution laws pulverised: politicians apoplectic

'I'm going to spank some ass - legally!'

High performance access to file storage

A Canadian Court has overturned a series of laws regulating sex work, furthering the debate as to whether to decriminalise or clamp down on prostitution.

The decision, handed down by the High Court in Ontario, effectively abolished laws banning street soliciting (communicating for the purposes of prostitution), working together from premises (bawdy house) and living off the avails of prostitution. The decision followed a legal challenge from three sex workers who argued that these laws directly endangered their health and forced them into unsafe working conditions.

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, Ontario Judge Susan Himel declared that the laws violated a constitutional guarantee of "the rights to life, liberty and safety".

"I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public," Himel said.

"These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

The news was greeted with delight by those arguing the sex workers’ case. York University law professor Alan Young, supporting the challenge, scanned the judgment seconds after it was released, and exclaimed: "We got everything: we did it. Finally, somebody listened."

One of the litigants, flamboyant dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, is reported to have spontaneously leaped from her chair at a Toronto news conference on Tuesday afternoon. Waving her trademark leather riding crop in the air, she announced that she would be celebrating. She said: "I’m going to spank some ass. Legally!"

"It’s a great day for Canada: It’s like emancipation day for sex trade workers."

A second litigant, former prostitute Valerie Scott, said that prostitutes will begin pressing immediately for a support regime that includes workers’ compensation, health standards and inclusion in the country’s income tax scheme.

Officials were not amused. Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson claimed that it is for government to decide how best to protect prostitutes and local communities, adding: "The Government... is seriously considering an appeal." Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak both added their support to an appeal.

They have 30 days to bring one.

This ruling adds fuel to an already inflamed debate on the issue, especially as the Canadian law in this area is closely modelled on UK law.

Some legislatures, such as New Zealand and Germany, have clearly decided that as prostitution is unlikely ever to go away, the best approach is to bring it within the scope of the law, making it safe for sex workers and their clients to report abuses where they happen and focussing the full weight of the law on the most abhorrent practices, such as trafficking or child abuse.

By contrast, Sweden – followed in the last parliament by the UK – has taken an ever more draconian approach to sex work, criminalising clients in an attempt to stifle demand. In the UK, the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) are angry that a combination of moral crusade and Proceeds of Crime Laws – by which police and prosecutors benefit financially from money seized from criminals - has led some police forces to target the easy pickings represented by prosecuting sex workers.

Sex workers are increasingly unwilling to report violence against them to the police, as experience suggests that the police are as likely to then prosecute the complainant as the individual guilty of the original offence. At the same time, there is a continuing trickle of allegations that money seized from sex workers is not all officially accounted for – and that it is next to impossible for sex workers to take action in such cases.

At the same time, as the recent case of Clare Finch demonstrates, English juries show a marked reluctance to convict women charged with brothel-keeping who are working collectively with friends for safety.

Both the ECP and International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) believe that the best way to safeguard sex workers in the UK is not by demonising them or their work, but by bringing them more fully within the umbrella of the law.

Decriminalisation, they believe, will save women’s lives: clampdowns won’t. ®

Bootnote

A survey carried out as part of last Sunday's BBC1 Sunday Morning Live discussion, featuring Catherine Stephens of the IUSW, Bel Mooney of the Daily Mail and Mehdi Hasan of the New Statesman showed overwhelming public support for accepting prostitution, with 71 per cent in favour and 29 per cent against.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.