blogged by Adam Gorley and Yosie Saint-Cyr
We were reading some very interesting articles in the media regarding the constitutional challenge to prostitution laws by sex-trade workers. These articles are saying that the law makes no sense. Alan Young, the Osgoode Hall law professor representing the women, aptly says “his clients can’t understand why prostitution itself is not directly prohibited, and yet all incidental transactions involved in prostitution are” (CTV News). Consequently, they want the Court to strike down all the Criminal Code sections pertaining to solicitation, to effectively decriminalize prostitution—as a result, making the sex trade a viable profession in its own right.
The key issue is the contradictory laws that make performing sex for money (prostitution) legal in Canada, while restricting where prostitutes can practise the trade, and severely limiting the people with whom they can associate. The Criminal Code prohibits soliciting sex, living off of the money earned from sex and operating a “bawdy house,” each of which can be so broadly defined as to make it extremely difficult for prostitutes and other sex-trade workers to operate. Imagine if the law allowed people to manufacture alcoholic drinks, but made it illegal to sell them anywhere but out of the back of a van, and prevented the producers from earning a living from those sales.
Many are of the opinion, that if the government wants to make prostitution illegal, it is taking a needlessly backwards approach—and one that puts at great risk of violence and illness any practitioner in the sex trade.
Moreover, the sex-trade workers in this case argue that restrictions on their work activities are a violation of their rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to security of the person and freedom of expression. Sex workers were saying in Court yesterday that “If prostitutes could work from home they would be safer and not a public nuisance on the street” (Toronto Sun).
By legalizing prostitution, the government would benefit from having incomes declared and taxes paid. Also, sex workers would be licensed, regulated and could have regular occupational health and safety check-ups to avoid and minimize work-related injuries and diseases. Prostitution could move from the streets to indoor locations such as brothels or other private locations.
As the so-called “world’s oldest profession,” many people believe that prostitution will never go away, and it is better to regulate than to punish. That way, the government could properly protect sex-trade workers and punish those who would attack and injure them
So what do you think, should Canada decriminalize the oldest profession in the world?
Adam Gorley and Yosie Saint-Cyr, Human Resources and Compliance Editors