Friday, 17 June 2011

Should everything related to prostitution be legalized in Canada? (Part 2)

In Canada, prostitution itself is legal but almost every activity associated with it is not. Parliament has seen fit to criminalize most aspects of prostitution such as living on the avails of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy-house and communicating in a public place for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.

There has been a long-standing debate in this country and elsewhere about the subject of prostitution. The only consensus that exists is that there is no consensus on the issue. The Governments (federal and provincial) in Canada, as well as internationally, have studied the topic and produced recommendations ranging from creating laws aimed at protecting individuals, families and communities by promulgating tough criminal laws to decriminalizing or legalizing prostitution. Other legal solutions look at the reasons for the existence of prostitution in our society and emphasize the need for social and economic responses. None of the schemes proposed are without controversy.

A well-known Canadian prostitution case was heard in September 2010, and of the landmark decision striking down the core of the controversial law that was made by Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel. The issues before the court were as follows:

Under s. 210, the bawdy-house provisions, it is illegal to conduct prostitution in an indoor location on a habitual and frequent basis. The applicants in that case maintained that the evidence demonstrated that violence is significantly reduced or eliminated in most indoor settings. I suppose the issue in such cases would be; “What constitutes habitual and frequent?”

The judge said that the law forces women to operate their business furtively in an atmosphere of constant secrecy and danger. Often prostitutes are taken by their tricks (Johns) to places that are in areas what are not near any people. I can understand that need for privacy when indulging in the sexual act however; many of the prostitutes have been murdered in such unsafe locations. They would feel safer in a house where there may be some semblance of safety.

I would be less than honest however if I didn’t mention that years ago in Toronto, a man murdered and butchered a woman in her family’s home while her family was downstairs.

Under s. 212(1)(j), the living on the avails of prostitution provision, the applicants argue that it is illegal to hire managers, drivers, and security personnel and that these type of services can reduce or eliminate the incidence of violence faced by prostitutes. Right now, such person would be called pimps and subject to penalty as per that section in the Criminal Code.

In considering the argument in these two issues, one only has to look at the infamous Robert Picton case where that pig farmer just outside of Vancouver, murdered and slaughtered almost 50 prostitutes in his barn and fed many of their bodies to his pigs after he conned his victims into coming with him alone to his farm to party with him. There are many other examples of persons who have targeted prostitutes in the past. For example, Jack the Ripper murdered between five and eleven prostitutes in London in the late-nineteenth century; in the same period, Dr. Thomas Cream, the “Lambeth Poisoner” killed up to nine victims, many of whom were prostitutes. In 2003, Gary Ridgway, also known as the Green River Killer, confessed to killing and disposing of the bodies of 48 women, most of whom were prostitutes. In the late 1970s, Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper, killed at least 13 women, many of whom were prostitutes. Arthur Shawcross, the Genesee River Killer, strangled 11 victims, most of them prostitutes, in the late 1980s. Joel Rifkin was convicted of murdering nine women in New York State in the early 1990s, most of whom were young prostitutes. In December of 2006, the bodies of five prostitutes were discovered in England; two men were arrested for these murders.

Surely protecting vulnerable women must be a high priority to government officials considering the risk the sex workers take when they have sex with strangers. Both the federal and provincial government lawyers have an uphill battle arguing support for the existing law to remain the same when one considers that sex workers in the past have been murdered.

Finally, it is illegal under s. 213(1)(c) to communicate in public for the purposes of prostitution. The applicants take the position that this prohibition has compelled prostitutes to make hasty decisions without properly screening customers when working on the streets, thereby increasing their risk of danger.

Of course, I suppose screening the prospects would also be for the purpose of determining if the prospective customer is actually an undercover cop. I suppose one could say that those persons in the sex trade industry can take measures to protect themselves without these three laws being overturned, because prostitutes are permitted to work together to provide services, arrange each other's appointments and drive each other to clients if no money is exchanged between them. Women can also hire taxi drivers to sit and wait outside a john's house, as long as they don't repeatedly use the same driver because that would contravene with the living off the avails provision.

The Supreme Court of Canada had previously ruled in the Prostitution Reference case that the communicating law was a justifiable infringement because its strengths (reducing the street nuisance associated with street prostitution) outweighed the infringement on freedom of expression. Certainly homeowners don’t want prostitutes soliciting customer’s right in front of their homes and their children.

The Supreme Court of Canada has the power to overrule its past decisions. However, a lower Court should not be quick to assume that it will do so, given the importance of the principle of stare decisis in our legal system. The term stare decisis means going by a higher court’s ruling.

The constitutional issue was first brought before the Superior Court in Toronto in 2006 by Toronto dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford and two sex workers, Valerie Scott and Nikki Thomas, who also represent the group Sex Workers of Canada. Their case was centered around the issue as to whether the safety of sex workers is diminished because they're prohibited from working in groups in brothels, hire security guards and drivers and allowed time to communicate with potential johns (tricks).

The applicants (Terri Jean Bedford has 14 years of experience working as a prostitute in Windsor, Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, and Fort McMurray. Ms. Bedford has, at various times in her life, worked as a street prostitute, a massage parlour attendant, an escort, an owner and manager of an escort agency, and a dominatrix) asserted that the liberty and security violations were not in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice, as they run contrary to the principles that laws must not be arbitrary, overbroad, and grossly disproportionate and that the government must obey the law. They submitted that none of the provisions are saved by s. 1 of the Charter. Section 1 in essence states that unless the law in question is not contrary to the principles of fundamental justice, they can remain as they are.

The Ontario’s Attorney General’s (AG Ontario) representative argued that the applicants had failed to demonstrate any basis in new evidence or in law that would justify a reconsideration of the Supreme Court’s conclusions in the Prostitution Reference or cast doubt on the constitutionality of the impugned provisions.

According to the AG Ontario, the physical and psychological harms experienced by prostitutes stem from the inherent inequality that characterizes the prostitute-customer relationship, and not from the Criminal Code. In fact, AG Ontario states that the impugned provisions operate to limit the negative effects of prostitution on both the prostitute and the public, as they curtail commercialized institutional prostitution and prohibit public prostitution.

I find it a bit foolish to make that kind of statement considering the fact that many prostitutes in Canada and other countries are murdered because of the laws prohibiting them from having personal body guards, drivers or other companions accompanying them to their destinations to insure that they will not be harmed.

Over 25,000 pages of evidence in 88 volumes, amassed over two and a half years, were presented to the court. The applicants’ witnesses include current and former prostitutes, an advocate for prostitutes’ rights, a politician, a journalist, and numerous social science experts who have researched prostitution in Canada and internationally. The respondent’s (crown’s) witnesses include current and former prostitutes, police officers, an assistant Crown Attorney, a social worker, advocates concerned about the negative effects of prostitution, social science experts who have researched prostitution in Canada and internationally, experts in research methodology, and a lawyer and a researcher at the Department of Justice. The affidavit evidence from all of these witnesses was accompanied by a large volume of studies, reports, newspaper articles, legislation, Hansard, and many other documents.

How would you like reviewing all that material for an essay on prostitution? That is why they pay the judges big bucks.

In Superior Court Judge Susan Himel’s decision which took more than a year to prepare, she struck down the laws banning operating or working in a brothel, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off the avails of prostitution.

After Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel made her ruling, the government requested that the court suspend the declaration of constitutional invalidity for a period of 18 months in order to allow Parliament a reasonable period of time to enact an appropriate legislative response and to protect public safety in the interim. The applicants made no submissions on this issue. A temporary stay was placed on the ruling until the joint appeal by the federal and Ontario governments could be heard.

The ruling means that the current law can still be enforced in Ontario. If the decision were to be upheld on appeal, it would topple the use of the prostitution provisions across the country unless of course the crown appeals the Ontario Court of Appeal’s ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada or alternatively, Parliament steps in and makes the adjustments to meet the decision of the court.

As to be expected, the case eventually ended up before the Ontario Court of Appeal. A five-justice panel at the Ontario Court of Appeal has been hearing arguments with respect to the issue into whether a lower court judge erred in law when she ruled last year that three prostitution-related laws put workers — who are mostly women — at risk because they leave them vulnerable to violent pimps and johns.

The high-profile appeal is being heard by Ontario Justices James MacPherson, Marc Rosenberg, David Doherty, Kathryn Feldman and Eleanore Cronk.

The experts appearing before that court generally agreed on the following statements:

a) Street prostitution is a dangerous activity;
b) All prostitution, regardless of venue, carries a risk of violence;
c) Prostitution conducted in indoor venues can be dangerous;
d) There is significant social stigma attached to prostitution; and
e) There are multiple factors responsible for the violence faced by

It must surely follow that great steps have to be undertaken to protect sex workers from being assaulted and murdered by some of their tricks who are unquestionably dangerous.

The following are the key matters in dispute amongst the experts:

a) Whether indoor prostitution is, or can be made, less dangerous than street prostitution;
b) Whether indoor prostitutes are in a better position to prevent harm to themselves than street prostitutes; and
c) Whether the impugned provisions materially contribute to the risk of harm suffered by prostitutes.

The experts agreed that most prostitutes in Canada are women. It is estimated that approximately 80 per cent of prostitution occurs predominantly in indoor locations, although the exact number is not known. Indoor prostitution can occur “in-call,” where the clients attend at a fixed indoor location such as a prostitute’s home or a massage parlour, or “out-call,” where prostitutes meet clients at different locations such as in hotel rooms or clients’ homes. Street prostitution was described as being divided between low and high “tracks” or “strolls” (which are areas where prostitutes congregate). Prostitutes working the low track were described as being on the bottom of the spectrum of prostitution in terms of health, safety, and earnings.

Many of the applicants’ experts gave opinions on stereotypes and misconceptions about the sex trade in Canada. For example, some experts challenged the notion of the prostitute as a victim, maintaining that some turn to prostitution not out of desperation, but because they see it as a better option than other opportunities, such as unskilled labour. As well, evidence was led that homeless, drug-addicted prostitutes represent a small percentage of prostitutes, also known as “survival sex workers.” Some experts opined that pimping is far less prevalent in Canada than some popular literature and media depictions would hold, and that the “mythology of the pimp” is rooted in racial and sexual bias.

Violence in prostitution is primarily inflicted by male clients against female prostitutes. The applicants’ experts maintained that street prostitution is much riskier, in terms of violence, than indoor prostitution. Some of the experts stated that street prostitutes are more likely to be victims of homicide than other prostitutes and much more likely than women in the general population. Factors that can increase safety levels for indoor prostitutes include greater control over their physical environment, close proximity to others who can intervene if help is needed, the ability to better screen out dangerous clients (taking names and credit cards in advance for example), a more regular clientele, the use of drivers to get to and from appointments, and response plans for dangerous situations.

There is little doubt that the street is a particularly dangerous place for prostitutes. Research indicates a relationship between victimization of prostitutes, including assaults and homicides, and the venue of the sex trade.

Nearly all assaults and murders of prostitutes occur while the prostitute is working on the street. Street prostitution often involves women getting into vehicles with strangers and travelling to remote areas, which is very risky. Admittedly there have been a few known murders of prostitutes who worked indoors.

Street prostitutes are more wary of the risks nowadays. They are employing client-screening strategies such as working out client expectations in advance and checking for weapons and the presence or absence of door handles and lock release buttons); however, many reported that such strategies take time, which elevates the risk of arrest under the communicating provision. Consequently, some prostitutes reported feeling rushed and reluctant to work out the details of a transaction before moving to a private location, thereby limiting their ability to screen for potentially violent clients. Similarly, working in isolated areas minimizes arrest under the communicating provision, but increases the risk of potential violence, and limits the ability for prostitutes to share information with each other such as the identity of dangerous clients.

Christine Bartlett-Hughes, a lawyer for the government of Ontario correctly stated that screening customers is very limited as a harm-reduction tool because there is only so much information that one can glean on the phone or by having a road-side conversation with a potential customer.

The government’s experts argued that prostitution is linked to a number of harmful activities, such as violence, drug and alcohol addiction, organized crime, and human trafficking. The Netherlands legalized prostitution in 2000, ostensibly to protect the prostitutes but since then, human trafficking has soared as women from other countries flock to the Netherlands to work as prostitutes. Amsterdam’s famous red-light district has been taken over by organized crime.

The experts at the Ontario Court of Appeal hearing concluded, for the most part, that there is fluidity between different prostitution venues, and, consequently, distinctions between indoor and outdoor prostitution are not meaningful. That said; Dr. Farley, who has arguably conducted more research on prostitution than the respondent’s other experts, found in one of her major studies “significantly” more physical violence in street prostitution, as compared to prostitution in brothels. In Dr. Farley’s opinion, however, there is little difference in the level of psychological violence as between indoor and outdoor venues.

There is no doubt in my mind that when a woman ends up having to sell her body to horny men, it is demeaning to them and it will have an effect on their views of men in general.

It is rather ironic when one considers a case where a group of prostitutes in Vancouver decided to rent a house where they could bring their tricks knowing that the prostitutes would be safe because of the fact that other prostitutes would also be in the house. However, the police raided the place, nicknamed, Granville House and charged the women with conducting their business in a brothel. That concept of a safe house was flushed down the toilet.

Alan Young, the lawyer representing the Applicants in the current court of appeal case said that the probability of harm was higher in Vancouver when police were in essence telling the sex workers that instead of working in the rented house where they would be safe, they should be doing their business on the street where they will continue to be at risk. It seems to me that the police should have been more concerned about the potential harm to the sex workers if they continued working on the streets instead of chasing them out of their house where they would be safe. They should have turned a blind eye to the rented house rather than jeopardize the safety of its inhabitants just to send a message that the community doesn’t like the concept of brothels in their community.

It is true that some women sex workers and some feminists agree with the morally conservative groups supporting the government, who claim — in an echo of the ill-fated “Just say no to drugs” campaign — that whatever the consequences, the criminal law needs to “send a message” to “johns and pimps,” as Michael Morris (a lawyer acting for the federal government) said in court.

But such facts and arguments don’t at all help the government’s case. For one thing, sex worker groups can easily get any number of counter-affidavits from women who have chosen sex work for rational reasons and not under deception or male coercion. But also, sex workers who have been victimized by clients or pimps don’t exactly benefit from the fact that, on top of these troubles, they can be arrested, evicted or lose custody of their kids because they are breaking the law.

The government lawyers (for both Ontario and the federal government) who were given the job of defending a hopelessly old-fashioned set of laws are in an uphill battle because the existing laws attach criminal penalties to anything that might make paid sex work safer: renting a business premise, providing basic security, and being upfront with clients about the exact nature of the transaction.

This makes the government look like it’s beating up on women not only for engaging in sex work — even though prostitution is technically legal — but also for taking some normal precautions, such as hiring a driver for outcalls.

Mr. Justice David Doherty asked Morris why it’s not “self-evident” that the provisions struck down by the Ontario Superior Court judge negatively impact the safety of prostitutes. And Justice James McPherson dared Morris to name another profession that is legal but where laws specifically prevent workers from taking security measures.

The government clearly knows that pragmatic regulatory options are receiving much attention. But instead of looking at what other countries have done to regulate the business in the wake of decriminalization, and devising a new law that would try to reduce harms, in the recognition that sex work is here to stay, the federal government has buried its head in the sand. Legislative inertia is what underlies the quiet desperation shown by the government lawyers appearing before the Court of Appeal.

The federal government could learn, for example, from the New Zealand 2003 law that sets out a sensible rationale for decriminalization and allows for local regulation of the sex trade. And a new law would make the current appeal — and a future even more expensive appeal to the Supreme Court — unnecessary and moot.

There can be no doubt that even if brothels could be legalized, it wouldn’t necessarily stop sex workers from working on the street. Several Australian states licenced brothels and yet some studies there show that up to 90% of the sex trade is still conducted on the streets.

The Fraser Report (published in 1985) dealt with landscape and philosophical and ethical traditions within which debates on prostitution that were taking place, and concluded that policies addressing prostitution ought to be guided by the principles of equality, individual adult responsibility, liberty, human dignity, and an appreciation of human sexuality.

In light of these principles, the Fraser Report recommended that the adult prostitute be given leeway to conduct his or her business in privacy and dignity, by moving indoors in small numbers in order to better protect safety. Further, the Fraser Report recommended that adults engaging in prostitution could and should be counted on to be responsible for themselves, and therefore should be entitled to give their earnings to whomever they wish provided no coercion or threats were present.

The Fraser Report rejected the idea that most prostitutes work to support a drug habit at p. 375:

The notion that prostitutes are on the street in order to earn the large amounts of money necessary to support a serious drug habit, does not find significant support from the research. There are some prostitutes who are in this position but they appear to be a very small part of the business and not at all typical. While some use alcohol and drugs in order to be able to cope with their work, the majority are not heavy users and do not use these substances while working because they do not want to lower their levels of awareness. In what is often a violent business, prostitutes need to keep all their wits about them. unquote

The fact that Canada and other countries have special laws surrounding prostitution does not, however, result in curtailing all of the worst aspects of the business, or in affording prostitutes the same protection as other members of the public.

Indeed, because there are special laws, this seems to result in prostitutes being categorized as different from other women and men, less worthy of protection by the police, and a general attitude that they are second-class citizens.

In assessing the overall effect of the matrix of laws preventing aggressive solicitation, living on the avails of prostitution, and keeping a bawdy-house, the Fraser Report stated at p. 532:

Because of the haphazard and inconsistent way in which the law of prostitution has developed, it ignores the tensile quality of prostitution and the linkages between the various forms of prostitution. More particularly, the law, in both its substance and enforcement, fails to recognize the reality that if pressure by the law is exerted in one context or location, it will produce a shift of the activity to another setting or location. This is seen in street prostitution where police charges or harassment in one location will produce a migration or dispersal of prostitutes to other areas which appear to be less subject to police scrutiny and public concern. unquote

Some of the recommendations from the Fraser Report included the following:
a. Removing the prostitution-related activities of both street prostitutes and customers from the Criminal Code except where they contravene existing Criminal Code provisions by creating a definable nuisance;

b. Rewriting the procuring and living on the avails sections of the Criminal Code that deal with exploitive behaviors (pimping) to prohibit instead behaviour which involves force or threats of force; and

c. Rewriting the bawdy-house sections to enable small numbers of prostitutes to work from their homes and to permit provinces (and municipalities) to regulate small scale prostitution establishments through zoning, licensing, and health and safety provisions.

The Fraser Report ultimately concluded that the law on prostitution had failed to achieve its underlying objective of reducing prostitution. Instead, it operated to victimize and dehumanize prostitutes. The judge after hearing all the evidence and studying the reports etc, made her ruling. It was as follows in part;

“Section 52(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (U.K.), 1982, c. 11, states that “any law that is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution is, to the extent of the inconsistency, of no force or effect.” I have found all of the impugned provisions to be inconsistent with the Charter.”

The impugned provisions she was speaking of is the law in the Criminal Code in respect to the prohibitions listed as it relates as to what prostitutes can’t do.
I agree with the position of both the federal and Ontario Crown’s positions that there is an inherent risks to prostitutes; whether the sex acts are conducted their customer’s cars, an open field or a luxurious boudoir. They also argued that prostitution is inherently degrading and unhealthy, and should not be encouraged as a 'career choice' for young women through a slack legal regime. They also argued that even if prostitution were made legal and moved indoors, it would still entail a high degree of danger to its practitioners. Obviously any time a prostitute is alone with a john, it is dangerous. There is no real safe haven available to a prostitute who is involved in prostitution unless the law is changed and properly regulated brothels are permitted to be available to both the prostitutes and their customers.

Several cities – including Toronto, Victoria, Windsor, Calgary and Edmonton – charge fees to licence body-rub establishments despite the general understanding that many sell sexual services.

The federal government argued before the court of appeal that it is not legally obligated to decriminalize Canada's sex trade for the safety of prostitutes because the industry is not a constitutional right.

Morris told a five-justice panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal in the opening day of the landmark appeal. "The practice of prostitution is an economic activity, not a constitutional right." He further argued that sex workers should not have an expectation to security of a person because they are engaging in an illegal activity that puts them at risk to violence from pimps and johns.

I find that statement a bit stupid also. If that argument were to hold water, it would also mean that illegal immigrants who slip into Canada by crossing the American border in a sealed container don’t have any expectation to safety because they are engaging in an illegal activity that puts them at risk.

Morris also said that although prostitution is legal in Canada, activities associated with it are not. Morris said that these laws need to stay put because they are meant to act as a deterrent for people to become involved in the industry.

Give me a break. What deterrence is he speaking of? Has he any idea just how many women in Canada are prostituting themselves and at the same time, they are aware of the penalties they will be subjected to if they are caught by the police for breaking those laws. They do it anyway. For example, we have laws that stated that anyone who commits first degree murder will get a sentence of 25 years to life. There are hundreds of first degree murders in our prisons who were aware of the penalty and yet they still murdered their victims.

Whether prostitution is declared a right is a discussion that should be left for Parliament and is not for the courts to decide, Morris argued. To some degree he is right because the role of the courts is to interpret the law, not to make it. However, if a court feels that a law is unconstitutional and as such would cause harm to any of its citizens, then the courts can step in and rule that the law is unconstitutional.

Himel had ruled that the laws banning operating or working in a brothel, communicating for the purpose of prostitution and living off the avails of prostitution put women at risk because they force prostitutes to ply their trade underground.

Morris argued that Himel made a "fundamental error" in her decision because she didn't consider that the government is not an "active participant" in the violence against sex workers. "The law does not authorize violence against prostitutes. Sex work is a violent world."

Let’s take a closer look at the rational of that statement. Parliament didn’t authorize motorists to drive their cars while their driving is impaired so it passed a law that prohibits drunk driving. It didn’t make that decision because of the moral aspects of drinking alcohol but rather because of the risk of everyone on the roads when a drunk driver is driving his or her vehicle amidst sober drivers. The members of parliament are not advocating that sex workers should be subject to violence by dangerous predators but it certainly should seriously considering what can be done to protect them.

Ms. Jamie Klukach, a lawyer representing the Ontario government said that women working in the sex trade willingly cannot argue their constitutional rights to safety and security are violated by current Canadian laws because they can leave the business at any time. She said, "Prostitutes don't claim that being a prostitute is necessary to their survival. It's a preference."

This tells you just how little this lawyer knows about life. It is easy for her as a lawyer who makes perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars a year representing clients to make such an absurd statement. There are thousands of women in Canada who are forced to go into the sex trade in order to survive economically.

Klukach further argued these laws would only contravene constitutional rights if prostitutes were physically forced to sell their bodies for money. I am not persuaded by that argument either. The constitution guarantees everyone the protection of our freedoms and that includes the right to make choices that are in the best interests of our safety.

She further said that sex-trade workers cannot liken their plight to those of other women who have in the past argued that their security of a person rights were breached due to criminal provisions, such as high-profile Supreme Court cases centred around assisted suicide and abortion. He said that in the first case, Sue Rodriguez, a terminally ill British Columbian woman, challenged the provisions which forced her to continue living when she wanted to die. In the second case, pregnant women were forced to carry fetuses to term. In both situations, these women differed from sex workers because they were powerless to avoid or change their circumstances.
Again, I take issue with that argument also. If sex workers choose to work in the safety of a brothel or hire men to accompany them to where the customers are taking them, why should the government prohibit this?

Justice James MacPherson questioned why prostitutes should be forced to change their livelihood when the act of prostitution is permitted by Parliament. He asked, "Why should he or she have to do that? It's a perfectly legal occupation."

Meanwhile, the Ontario government argued, "the jury is still out on whether legalizing all aspects of prostitution would actually make it safer for workers.

The current laws, says Klukach, are intended to deter women from making the highly constrained choice to enter the sex trade industry and to prevent others from manipulating these women for financial gain. "Prostitutes are extremely emotionally vulnerable and easy to manipulate," she said, as three sex workers watching the proceedings shook their heads in disagreement.

Klukach said the laws cannot be abolished to protect the few who believe it will empower them if the intention of Parliament is to protect the group's most vulnerable.

She added that those in the industry now can take measures to protect themselves without these three laws being overturned, because prostitutes were permitted to work together to provide services, arrange each other's appointments and drive each other to clients if no money is exchanged between them. Women can also hire taxi drivers to sit and wait outside a john's house, as long as they don't repeatedly use the same driver because that would contravene with the living off the avails provision.

That option may apply to some but certainly it doesn’t apply to all of them. If some current or former sex workers tell us that prostitution as they have lived it is abusive, does that mean the current laws should be upheld?

It appears to me that the lawyers representing the federal Department of Justice and the Ontario government are clutching at legal straws to bring more misery to sex workers.

It is going to be really interesting if the Supreme Court hears this case, and it agrees that the current laws relating to prostitution is unconstitutional. Canada has a policy that permits women who come to Canada to work in Canadian households as maids, cooks and/or child care workers can apply for Canadian citizenship after they have worked in Canada for at least two years. Will women who come to Canada to be sex workers eventually be given the same opportunities?

A decision in the precedent-setting case being heard by the Ontario court of appeal is not anticipated for several months.

In summary, I will give you my final observation about this issue.

I believe that the law should be overturned. Further, I believe that brothels should be established in non-residential areas and the persons in charge of such brothels should be licenced as such and that the sex workers who work in those brothels should also be licenced.

Further, those immediate areas where brothels are permitted should be patrolled by police officers so that the people in those areas are protected from criminals who tend to congregate around them.

Further, all persons having any form of anal or vaginal sex should be required to wear a condom so that both parties to the sex act will not get AIDS or any other sexually transmitted diseases. With respect to oral sex, a condom isn’t necessary as no viruses can survive the stomach acids of the recipients.

All sex workers in such brothels should be periodically medically examined to make sure that they are not carrying some form of disease.

The sheets and pillow cases in the private rooms of the brothels should be changed each time a new customer is serviced by the sex workers.

The sex workers should be paid according to the standards set by the brothels and they should pay taxes on their earnings.

The brothels should be permitted to advertise the services of their sex workers in newspapers and/or magazines.

If prostitutes want to hire someone to act as a body guard who would be nearby while the women are having sex with a trick, they should be able to do so.

I am however against men who act as pimps and who have total control over the women.

And finally:

I realize that many people believe that women (and men also) who prostitute themselves are immoral. I don’t believe that anyone has the right to make that kind of judgment. Admittedly, I certainly wouldn’t want my two daughters to be prostitutes and they are not but if they chose that form of occupation, I would be extremely dismayed by it but I would not condemn them for it unless I didn't care if I was alienated from them. Should we as a society alienate ourselves from sex workers? I think not.

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