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Thread: Bill C-36 Media Watchlist - you can help!

  1. #1
    Vancouver Pimp who ran teen prostitution ring becomes first in B.C. convicted of human trafficking Sept. 15/14

    Reza Moazami was found guilty Monday on 30 of 36 charges, including one of human trafficking and multiple counts of living off the avails of prostitution with coercion, sexual assault and sexual exploitation.

    Winnipeg Police chief says workers need help June 7/14

    Winnipeg Escort says police ignored her Asks if she's ‘not important enough when so many women have been murdered in this city?’ Sept. 13/14

    Edmonton Body rub industry to face scrutiny Aug. 11/14

    The City of Calgary Ryan Jestin Director, Animal & Bylaw Services

    Winnipeg Prostitution Sting 83-year-old man among four arrested in Winnipeg prostitution sting Sept. 12/14

    Ottawa City urged to crack down on unlicensed massage parlours June 19/14

    Abbotsford Police bust suspected brothel in residential area June 27/14 & Abbotsford police recommend common bawdy-house charge

  2. #2
    Black Press is starting to clamp down on who is allowed to advertise what kind of business in their publications.

    The link above is to a list of papers they own in BC, AB, and the USA, and they also own

    They are a very religious, conservative group.

  3. #3
    Consistent with her position on C-36, Elizabeth May, leader of the Green Party, has just introduced to the House of Commons motions which would in effect get rid of the Bill as a whole:

    Anyone interested in following the progress of the Bill, can track it here:

  4. #4
    Hamilton SIU to investigate Hamilton cop who preyed on sex workers Sept. 15/14

    Ottawa Ottawa mayor candidate Darren Wood: legalize bordellos, tax sex workers Sept. 11/14

    ***This thread is now running on 8 boards - so it takes about a half hour to post new items on all the forums, reaching a potential reading audience of hundreds of thousands from coast to coast!

  5. #5
    Excellent article in the Economist yesterday stressing that criminalizing the purchase is as just as bad as criminalizing the sale

    A personal choice

    The internet is making the buying and selling of sex easier and safer. Governments should stop trying to ban it
    'Schau mir in die Augen kleines' is not a toast to looking at you

  6. #6
    Sex workers in Canada: 17 interesting facts from a new report

    by STEPHEN HUI on SEP 19, 2014 at 4:17 PM

    Researchers have released what’s being called the first national report on the sex industry in Canada—and some of its findings may surprise you.

    The working paper, whose lead author is Cecilia Benoit of the University of Victoria, will be discussed at an international symposium in Ottawa on September 22 and 23. It’s based on five studies undertaken in St. John’s, Montréal, Kitchener, Fort McMurray, Calgary, and Victoria.

    “Based on our study, many of the people linked to Canada’s sex industry—workers and their intimate partners, managers and clients—have much in common with other Canadians. By and large, they are Canadian-born, Caucasian, in their 30s or 40s with a high school diploma and some form of post-secondary education or training,” the report states.

    Here’s 17 interesting findings from the paper. All figures correspond to study participants only.

    • The median income is $39,500 for sex workers, $42,000 for managers, and $60,000 for sex buyers.

    • The average age of sex workers’ first sale was 26 years old, and the median age of sex buyers’ first purchase was 25 years old.

    • 29 percent of sex workers first sold a sexual service before the age of 19.

    • The average sex worker has 10 years of experience, and the average sex buyer has 16 years of experience.

    • 89 percent of sex workers were born in Canada.

    • 29 percent of sex workers spent some of their childhood in foster care or another form of government care.

    • 67 percent of sex workers finished high school, and 15 percent have a bachelor’s degree or more.

    • 77 percent of sex workers identify as women, 17 percent as men, and 6 percent as other genders.

    • 66 percent of sex workers report a different gender presentation on the job than in their personal lives. (“Most reported they are more feminine in their work lives.”)

    • 45 percent of sex workers identify as straight, 38 percent as bisexual or bi-curious, 6 percent as gay or lesbian, and 11 percent as other sexual orientations.

    • Sex buyers purchase a sexual service a median of four times a year.

    • 65 percent of sex buyers used in-call services in the past year, 55 percent visited massage parlours, 39 percent used out-call services, while only 17 percent bought sex on the street.

    • 20 percent of sex workers rated their job as very or extremely stressful; in contrast, 43 percent of sex workers ranked their personal lives as very or extremely stressful.

    • 97 percent of sex workers have been tested for HIV/AIDs, compared to 68 percent of sex buyers.

    • 69 percent of sex workers reported using a condom every time they had sex with a client in the last month.

    • 15 percent of sex workers had at least one sex-work-related injury, but only 1 percent of injured sex workers had submitted a sex-work-related claim to the Workers Compensation Board.

    • 99 percent of sex buyers are in favour of legalizing prostitution.

    Follow Stephen Hui on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

  7. #7
    Tories prepare to fast-track prostitution bill through Parliament

    One of Parliament’s most high-profile bills appears set to become law without major changes – as one senator says the committee considering Bill C-36, aimed at reining in the sex trade, is “highly unlikely” to call for changes.

    The approval of the bill by the Conservative-dominated Senate committee would be a strong signal it will ultimately become law in its current form, despite being broadly criticized, in particular for provisions that could lead a sex worker to be criminally charged. Many lawyers have also warned the bill is likely unconstitutional and could end up being struck down.

    The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee was urged to make certain changes as even supporters of the bill said it should not criminalize sex workers. However, the Conservative government has argued that the bill needs to be passed quickly and that it balances protecting sex workers with discouraging their trade. Asked last week whether the committee would call for any changes to the bill, Conservative Senator and committee member Linda Frum replied simply: “It’s highly unlikely.”

    The committee has been conducting a “pre-study” of Bill C-36 this month, part of a bid to ensure it moves quickly through the Senate once formally passed by the House of Commons. The bill was tabled after the Supreme Court, in its Bedford decision, struck down existing prostitution laws, in part because they were found to violate the Charter rights of sex workers.

    During her own appearance before the Senate committee earlier this month, Terri-Jean Bedford threatened senators that she would disclose a list of politicians who buy sex if the bill is passed in its current form. She later ran afoul of committee rules by speaking out of turn, was escorted out of the Senate meeting and ultimately apologized.

    The new law largely criminalizes the buyers of sex – rather than the sellers – but will nonetheless have an impact on sex workers. It includes broad restrictions on advertising – sex workers are allowed to place ads but it will be illegal for companies to knowingly run them – a change expected to put a chill on both newspapers and websites.

    The law also includes a provision making it illegal to discuss a transaction near a school, playground or daycare – a law that would apply to sex workers and clients alike. That was the provision most frequently criticized by witnesses during committee hearings. The government has already softened this provision through an amendment made by a House of Commons committee.

    Justice Minister Peter MacKay, who is spearheading the bill for the Conservative government, told The Globe and Mail last week that he had not heard from the Senate about any changes. “I have not heard any indication of forthcoming amendments. I have been following it, and following the proceedings. Of course, they’re still sitting, they still have opportunities to examine the bill. We’ll await that decision,” he said.

    Government House Leader Peter Van Loan has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by December, to meet the court’s deadline and ensure Canada doesn’t go without laws on prostitution. The government has repeatedly insisted the law is constitutional, but also said it is designed to limit and rein in the sex trade as much as possible.

  8. #8
    May says prostitution bill is 'unfixable'

    OTTAWA -- Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said the government prostitution Bill C-36 is "unfixable."

    "I couldn't find a way to amend the bill and actually fix it," she said, recommending the bill be ditched entirely.

    The controversial legislation was back to the House of Commons for a final review Monday, so opposition MPs from all parties had one final chance to weigh in.

    The Supreme Court last December ruled Canada's existing laws on the world's oldest profession were unconstitutional and ordered Parliament to come up with something new.

    Initiated by Justice Minister Peter MacKay, the overarching theme behind the bill is to criminalize the purchase of sex, but not its sale.

    Though he's been criticized for it, MacKay has stated he believes his "made-in-Canada" approach is the best step toward the "aspirational" goal of eliminating prostitution altogether.

  9. #9
    First national study sheds new light on sex work in Canada

    Rachel Browne talks to researchers behind five-year study

    Rachel Browne
    September 23, 2014

    Earlier this year, Justice Minister Peter MacKay promised that Bill C-36 would eradicate prostitution in Canada and protect the most vulnerable in the sex industry by “going after the perpetrators, the perverts, those who are consumers of this degrading practice.” Despite criticism and repeated calls for the bill to be withdrawn, it will likely become law before the government’s December deadline.

    Sex workers are concerned for their future. And while the bill’s opponents voiced their concerns even before it was tabled, they haven’t had much influence on it.

    Researchers from around the world are in Ottawa this week to hear findings from the first national study on Canada’s sex industry that seriously undermine the bill’s assumptions that most people who sell sex are victims and those who buy sex are fiends. While the study is unlikely to influence the new legislation, it provides rare insight into the lives of Canadians who buy and sex sell. It also adds to the body of evidence available for the inevitable Charter challenge.

    “Sex workers are average Canadians. They’re Caucasian, in their 30s and 40s, and have education and training outside of high school. Most of them don’t feel exploited, they don’t see buyers as oppressors,” the study’s lead author Cecilia Benoit, a researcher at the Centre for Addictions Research of British Columbia, told Maclean’s. “They’re not weird, unusual people. They are people trying to do the best they can with the tools they have to live their lives.”

    The five-year study began in 2011 and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Researchers interviewed 218 sex workers, 1,252 clients, 30 spouses or intimate partners of sex workers, 61 managers of escort or massage businesses, and 80 law enforcement officials. The interviewees were from six cities: St. John’s, N.L., Montreal, Kitchener, Ont., Fort McMurray, Alta., and Victoria.

    Throughout the justice committee hearings on Bill C-36 in July, the bill’s supporters claimed the average age of entry into the sex industry is between 14 and 16. For the sex workers in this study, the average age was 24; 29 per cent of the sex workers interviewed said they had engaged in sex work before they turned 19. And while 43 per cent of the sex workers said they were satisfied with their work and 82 per cent felt appropriately rewarded, about one third of those surveyed reported having negative childhood experiences, and the same number grew up in foster care or other child services. The research team plans to examine the link between childhood abuse and the sex industry.

    Benoit, who has spent decades researching the sex industry, says she was struck by the interviews she and her husband, fellow researcher Mikael Jansson, did together with the sex workers and their spouses or partners. “I realized just how similar they were to us,” she says. “They were dealing with the constraints of life, trying to support each other.” More than half of the sex workers in the study were in “significant intimate relationships,” and 59 of them were married or living in common-law marriages. Almost half the clients reported being married or in a common-law marriage with a non-sex worker.

    Many of the interviews were conducted shortly after the Supreme Court struck down the criminal code provisions on prostitution last year. “People in the industry felt a little bit more at ease then, [and] open to tell us what they were doing,” says Benoit. She’s worried the new laws criminalizing buyers and advertising will push swaths of the industry underground. “It will be harder for clients to help anyone they see being victimized, because it will be illegal. The same with managers in the industry,” she says. “I’m a bit sad about what is going to happen.”

    Canadians should also be worried that C-36 makes sex workers targets, says Chris Atchison, a sociologist from the University of Victoria who contributed to the study. “We see exacerbation of conflict and unsafe sex practices when we force people to engage in hostile, criminalized climates,” he says. Clients, or “johns,” in Canada represent all strata of life, so when we adhere to stereotypes, it ignores the diversity of the population and glosses over the bad apples, he says. And the small number of people who prey on the vulnerable in the sex industry will have greater cover, because johns won’t be willing to divulge their anonymity once it becomes illegal to buy sex. “People who are raping and murdering sex workers, they’re not clients,” Atchison says. “Nobody murders a sex worker and then puts $500 down on her corpse.”

    Jean McDonald, director of sex-worker support group Maggie’s Toronto, says although C-36 is very similar to the provisions struck down by Bedford, her group is coming up with new ways to navigate the changing industry. She’s also confident some police forces will continue to leave sex workers and their clients alone. “There are some police services, such as in Peterborough, Ont., who, for the last 10 years, have made a point of having a policy of non-enforcement of prostitution laws,” she says. “There is that shimmer of hope I have.”

    This is reflected in the report, which finds that police and municipal approaches to sex workers and johns are highly inconsistent across the country. Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson applauds Bill C-36, for example, whereas Victoria police officers shy away from arresting those engaging in prostitution. The Victoria municipal council recently passed a resolution urging the federal government to abandon C-36. One Montreal police officer told report authors that his force focuses instead on “other crimes that are more serious, such as the trafficking of crack cocaine and the trafficking of firearms.”

    Even if prostitution were decriminalized, which the report authors and those interviewed say ought to happen, Benoit says that wouldn’t be enough to make the lives of those in the industry better. “We need societal change, not just at the federal level. We need to change at a more personal level by examining our attitudes and how we discriminate against people,” she says.

  10. #10
    The latest on the the status of C-36 at the HoC:

    Monday, September 29, 2014

    6:30 p.m.

    Government Orders

    — The Minister of Justice — Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act — Report stage (deferred recorded division on report stage motions)

    Committee Report — presented on Monday, September 15, 2014, Sessional Paper No. 8510-412-121.

    Report stage motions — see "Report Stage of Bills" in today's Notice Paper.

    Recorded division — deferred until Monday, September 29, 2014, at the ordinary hour of daily adjournment, pursuant to Standing Order 45.

    Length of bells — 15 minutes maximum.

    Report stage concurrence motion — question to be put immediately after the report stage motions are disposed of, pursuant to Standing Order 76.1(9).

    Reminder that you can always follow the status of the Bill here:

  11. #11
    The Senate’s mad dash to push Harper’s prostitution bill

    By Steve Sullivan | Sep 26, 2014 4:29 pm

    Two years ago, Parliament sent a bill to the Senate, expecting it to be passed without a lot of fuss. It was a private member’s bill which had the support of all the parties; it would have given provinces the power to allow single-game betting on professional sports. Not a burning national issue, exactly, but one worth lots of money to some people.

    A funny thing happened to the bill when it got to the Red Chamber. Virtually ignored in the House, the bill was subjected to tough questions by senators; they explored the potential negative impacts and listened to witnesses’ concerns. In short, they did their jobs.

    Of course, that was a bill about gambling, small potatoes compared to the next major shift in criminal law on the Conservatives’ agenda — Bill C-36, the government’s anti-prostitution bill. And don’t expect the Senate to give Justice Minister Peter MacKay any grief on this one; the government needs it passed soon, so the Senate part of the process is going to be a mere formality.

    The government has a December deadline to introduce a new prostitution law, set by the Supreme Court. Eager to please, the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee is conducting a “pre-study” of the bill even before the House passes it. Before her committee finished hearing witnesses, Tory Senator Linda Frum said that it is “highly unlikely” the bill would be amended.

    And that, people, is what passes for ‘sober second thought’ these days. The committee heard from many witnesses opposed to the bill — but hearing is not the same as listening. Not even the lawyer who led the charge to strike down the old law, Alan Young, made much headway with the Senate. But the questions Young and other critics have been asking about the Harper government’s highly unlikely plan to ‘clean up’ the sex trade still haven’t been answered.

    For example, Young wants to know why the government proposes to go on allowing sex workers to advertise their services if — as we’ve been told by Mr. MacKay more than once — sex work is degrading, all sex workers are victims and all customers are perverts. If sex work is as bad as the government says it is, said Young, “there should be an absolute prohibition.”

    He also wonders how a worker can advertise her service, invite men into her home for sex — then make them criminals as soon as they give her money. This, Young calls ‘legalizing entrapment’.

    He had a lot to say to the committee about the constitutionality of the bill and where his focus would be if he ends up being the one to challenge it. Few Conservative senators seemed terribly interested.
    Senator Denise Batters asked him about the claim made by his former client, Terri Bedford, that she spent $500,000 on her case. Young said he received $40,000 and did the rest pro bono. The question had nothing at all to do with the bill.

    Senator Thomas Johnson McInnes delivered a lecture on the democratic process and assured Mr. Young that he supports his right to disagree. No doubt that came as a great relief to Mr. Young, but again, it had nothing to do with the content of the bill.

    Senator Linda Frum took issue with Mr. Young’s claim that there are “uplifting” stories of sex workers — because she hadn’t heard any (nor, apparently, had she read the transcripts from the Commons Justice Committee). Mr. Young offered to bring stories of people “content with their choices” to the committee.

    Senator Jean-Guy Dagenais did not have any questions for Mr. Young because, he said, Mr. Young had answered them all. Seriously — the guy studied the issue for over a decade, took the government to court and won … and the senator couldn’t muster the energy to think of one question?

    None of the Tory senators delved into constitutionality issues with Mr. Young. Apparently they’re content with assurances from Justice lawyers that the bill is constitutionally sound. This is the same Justice Department, of course, that argued the previous law was constitutional — and also said the same about the government’s bills on accelerated parole, 2-for-1 sentencing credit and mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes. Wrong on all counts. I wouldn’t trust these people to tell me it’s raining.

    Meanwhile, the government won’t allow us mere mortals to see the government’s legal opinion supporting the bill. We pay the salaries of those Justice lawyers; their work is done on our behalf, so we’re the clients. And a legal opinion is not a state secret — not, at least, in the saner world outside of the Harper cabinet.

    Sex work is controversial and reasonable people can disagree on how to handle it in law. In fact, reasonable people should be expected to disagree about it. How much simpler it must be, in comparison, to be a Conservative senator: Wait for the prime minister to crack the whip — then jump.

    What does it say about the Senate if everyone already knows what they will do with one of the most hotly debated and controversial bills in recent memory? Forget about sober second thought. Can we at least get some thought?

    Steve Sullivan has been advocating for victims for almost 20 years, having served as the former president of the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime and as the first federal ombudsman for victims of crime. He has testified before numerous parliamentary committees on victims’ rights, justice reform and public safety issues and has conducted training for provincial and federal victim services. He is currently the executive director of Ottawa Victim Services and a part-time professor at Algonquin College in the Victimology Graduate Certificate Program. His views are his own and do not represent any agency with which he is associated.

    The views, opinions and positions expressed by all iPolitics columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of iPolitics.

  12. #12
    A report from the States, but there is a wider discussion of the implications of criminalizing sex work, and the conflation of prostitution with trafficking:

    Sex Workers Deserve Protection from Rape

    In the oldest profession, rape, assault and murder are a constant threat, but even in areas where prostitution is legal, sex workers face discrimination

    At the peak of her career as a high-end escort, Veronica Monet got a call. A new client wanted to hire her at the usual rate: $500 for one hour. At first, Monet hesitated. His address was in a poor part of Oakland. It wasn’t the kind of neighborhood where clients could typically afford her services. Not wanting to discriminate against low-income clients, though, she scheduled the appointment. And when Monet arrived at his house, her earlier concerns disappeared. She liked him. He spoke movingly of his work with a church choir and of his history in the U.S. Army.

    Then things changed. When Monet asked for the money they’d agreed on, the client became threatening and aggressive. He told her that she was going to take a check, although they had previously agreed on a cash payment. Monet decided to leave. But she couldn't.

    “I realized that his house was a cage — there were bars on the windows, bars on the doors, and everything was locked with a key,” Monet said. “There was no way to get out. I was trapped.” So when the man grabbed her and threw her onto the floor, Monet went into survival mode. She decided that the most important thing was to get out alive. The physical wounds from the attack left her torn and bleeding.

    Monet knew how the police would treat her if she tried to report the assault, so she fought back the only way she knew how: she spoke to her friends and colleagues in the sex work community, warning them to stay away from the man who had raped her. But the warning didn’t travel quickly enough. Three weeks later, the same man raped another sex worker.

    But that time it was different: The woman fought back. He stabbed her in the face.

    “We tried to convince her to report it because we thought the police would take her more seriously than the rest of us — and it turned out there were a lot of us,” Monet says. “But she was 18. She was terrified of the police.” The second victim didn’t report her rape, either.

    Monet said the girl disappeared, and she doesn’t know what happened to the man who raped them. She assumes he’s probably still out there, waiting for his cage house to trap its next victim. If history is any evidence, serial rapists target sex workers first. And when they get away with it, they’re still out there: free to hunt all women.

    “We need prostitutes to be able to report these things, because the bad guys prey on prostitutes first,” Monet said. “When sex workers are afraid of the police, it makes the world a more dangerous place for every single woman.”


    Sex worker’s fears are grounded in the realities of a justice system that criminalizes their livelihood. Prostitutes who report sexual assault to police can be laughed at, ignored, accused of lying, arrested, or worse — even when the assault didn’t necessarily happen on the job. “If a woman [sex worker] tries to bring charges against a partner who has raped her, chances are they’re going to use her job against her in court,” Audacia Ray, whose New York City-based Red Umbrella Project supports current and former sex workers. “It’s the chilling effect of knowing that the law is not with us.”

    Reliable statistics about rape and prostitution are nearly impossible to find, since a huge number of survivors don’t report their assaults, but one recent study found that sex workers have a 45 to 75 percent chance of experiencing sexual violence at some point in their careers. Our criminal justice system’s explicit bias against sex workers only compounds the problem. In 2007, a judge in Philadelphia dismissed rape charges against a man who organized the gang rape of a prostitute at gunpoint, saying that his crime was merely “theft of services.” New York State’s 1975 rape shield law—which protects rape victims from having their sexual histories used against them in criminal proceedings—explicitly does not apply to anyone with a prostitution conviction on her record in the past three years. And when another Oakland sex worker, who goes by the name Ms. R, applied for state-funded victim compensation after the serious injuries from a rape left her unable to return to work immediately, she was denied support on the grounds of her job. The police and criminal justice systems treat sex workers as though rape were a mere “occupational hazard” of their work — an accusation that would never be thrown at a bank teller who survived a robbery.

    “Sex workers are seen as ‘criminals,’ so it allows a whole section of society to not care if we’re attacked,” said Mariko Passion, an activist and current sex worker who said the police made fun of her when she tried to report a rape. “Criminalization allows people to imagine that we don’t have boundaries, voices or labor rights. It allows them to forget that we can say ‘no,’ too.”

    The criminalization of sex work leaves women in that industry without the basic protections and labor standards that apply to people in other risky professions. But another problem — which may be harder to erase — is the stigma: even legal sex workers, such as exotic dancers and phone sex operators, told me they feel afraid to report rape and assault. And while some sex workers turn to advocacy groups, even rape support organizations sometimes perpetuate stigma. After Ms. R’s attack, she sought help from Bay Area Women Against Rape, San Francisco Women Against Rape and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault — all three of which turned her away when they learned about her job. A male employee at Bay Area Women Against Rape even drove Ms. R to tears when he told her that she was “responsible” for the assault against her.

    It’s shocking to hear stories of victim-shaming within the world of advocacy organizations, but that attitude is common to all sexual assault survivors. A recent Washington Post column, for example, mocked a rape victim for having previously “hook[ed] up” with her attacker, and social media rushed to declare the Steubenville rape survivor a “slut” or “prostitute” after her assault. So when our culture rushes to discredit all rape survivors with the implication that they are figurative “prostitutes,” what happens to victims of sexual assault who are literal sex workers?

    “I wanted to call the police,” says a soldier in the U.S. Army reserves who works as, in her words, “a massage-centered companion.” “But what could I tell them? That I’m a prostitute and he anally raped me, even though I screamed at him to stop? I knew exactly what they would say. I knew no one would help me.”


    In lieu of legal protections or even support from anti-rape NGOs, some sex workers turn to organizations that specifically campaign for their rights. When Ms. R learned that her victim’s compensation claim had been denied, she reached out to the US PROStitutes Collective, the Erotic Service Providers Union and the ACLU. They took on her case, and successfully campaigned to have California’s discriminatory prohibition overturned. It was a huge — but rare — victory for sex worker rights.

    For many, the fundamental problem remains that as long as sex workers fear they might be arrested for doing their jobs — or merely for trying to report an assault — they are driven even deeper underground, where violence and rape thrive unchecked. Hawk Kincaid, the president of HOOK, the nation’s only grassroots organization that specifically supports male sex workers, said that in most parts of the United States, former prostitutes can be fired for having previously worked in the sex industry. In other words, the criminalization of prostitution makes it difficult for sex workers to change jobs — even when they want to.

    A recently leaked policy document from Amnesty International agreed that the criminalization of prostitution leaves sex workers vulnerable to “violence and abuse by police and clients.” Even the criminalization of sex workers’ clients — the so-called “Nordic Model,” which decriminalizes prostitutes but criminalizes their customers — has been “proven to drive those engaged in sex work underground, increasing the risk of violence and abuse.”

    Many sex worker advocates also argue that anti-human trafficking initiatives that focus specifically on sex workers depress human rights and labor standards for women who are consensually involved in the erotic industries. They point out that forced labor exists in many industries — in fact, the International Labor Organization estimates that people trafficked into “forced sexual exploitation” make up only roughly one-quarter of all people trafficked into forced labor worldwide. The agriculture industries, for example, have some of the highest rates of forced labor in the United States, but it’s hard to imagine that police would arrest an Alaskan crab fisherman to “protect” him from the risk of trafficking. This double standard puts willing sex workers in danger.

    There is some strong evidence to suggest that decriminalization can protect sex workers, and all women, from violent crime. According to a recent paper from the Bureau of Economic Research, rates of rape dropped dramatically after the state of Rhode Island decriminalized indoor prostitution for six years. (In fact, the 31 percent drop in number of reported rapes as so significant that the researchers re-confirmed the data with three separate statistical methods.) After Germany and New Zealand decriminalized sex work, rates of violence against sex workers in those countries similarly decreased.

    Several theories explain these trends. First, legal sex workers in frightening situations can threaten to call the police, which may discourage violent escalation. Open and transparent transactional markets also make it easier for sex workers to share information and vet potential clients. And many point out that the criminalization of any field, such as the prohibition of alcohol, has historically allowed criminal organizations (and their resulting violence) to dominate industries.

    “No system works 100 percent, but we do know that decriminalization is the number one thing we have to do first,” said Kincaid. “It’s the only way to have a productive, adult conversation about how to protect people who consciously make a decision to work in this industry.”

    Jillian Keenan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, Slate, Marie Claire,, and elsewhere.

  13. #13
    An opinion from Australia, with relevance to the Canadian context:

    Listen to sex workers – you'll realise we have a lot to say about labour rights

    Sex workers work because we have needs and desires in life: food, shelter, the everyday costs associated with living. We are members of the communities in which we work and live

    It was with a mounting sense of frustration and despair as I read the piece Living in St Kilda opened my eyes to the world of prostitution. I’m lucky – I can leave. Frustration and despair because as a sex worker, former street-based sex worker and advocate for sex workers, too often I see non sex workers speak about our lives in derogatory and stigmatising ways – so often that there is a term for it: “pity porn”.

    Pity porn is the depiction of sex workers as victims lacking in agency, as if we are incapable of speaking for ourselves, as if we are in need of rescue or rehabilitation. This is a view that fundamentally denies our autonomy over our own bodies, seeks to undermine sex workers’ struggles to have our human rights recognised, and places non sex workers’ voices as more important in dialogues about our lives and our rights. This is unacceptable.

    Sex workers, just like other workers, work because we have needs and desires in life: food, shelter, the everyday costs associated with living, and yes sometimes drugs, although drugs rate quite low in terms of motivations to be in this line of work. We are members of the communities in which we work and live. Street-based sex workers are often the most visible part of sex worker community and therefore face specific issues in terms of both public and media attention.

    In Victoria, street-based sex work remains criminalised and sex work generally is regulated under a licensing regime. What this means day to day for sex workers is that we are not treated as workers in other industries are. We are subject to a complex and often confusingly bureaucratic system of rules about how, when and where we can work. If we do not at all times comply with these rules, if we are subject to acts of violence, we are forced to choose between accessing assistance from services (including police) against a risk of being penalised for not complying with licensing regulations.

    In light of all of this, it is particularly uninspiring to be scanning the news and come across an opinion piece that makes generalisations about us, as the writer’s interaction with sex workers apparently amounts to a few “good mornings”.

    But if you truly want to know about sex workers’ lives, here’s a hint. Listen to them, we have a lot to say. We are not silent and we fight daily for better labour rights for our community. We appreciate good allies who listen and don’t attempt to speak on sex workers’ behalf. Good allies respect our autonomy and don’t make assumptions about us, but find out what the facts are – from sex workers.

    Most importantly if you do write about us, understand that when you write about the environment in which we work as an “ever-present thrum of misery day and night, night and day” and describe us using phrases such as “their faces still soft, but their eyes hardening”, this stigmatises and dehumanises us. If you are really concerned about violence in our lives, if you want to be community-minded or supportive, key things that needs to be challenged are stigma and discrimination, the laws that criminalise our work and prevent us from accessing our human rights and labour rights as other members of society, these same laws disadvantage sex workers in seeking justice if we are subject to violence.

    Assistance given to sex workers activism on these issues by allies is “supportive”, writing pity porn about sex workers is not.

    Jane Green is a sex worker, member of Vixen Collective (Victoria's Peer Only Sex Worker Organisation) and treasurer of the Scarlet Alliance (Australia Sex Workers Association). Jane joins with other individual sex workers, Vixen Collective and Scarlet Alliance in fighting for the full decriminalisation of sex work across Australia

  14. #14
    According to Françoise Boivin, from the NDP, the next steps for C-36 are few hours of debate on Friday for the 3rd reading, and then final vote at the Hoc next week:

    #C36 Vote étape du rapport. Ne restera que quelques hrs de débat en 3ième lecture vendredi et vote la semaine prochaine. #polcan #Bedford

    A motion, at the Report Stage, to delete the Bill was just defeated by the Cons.

  15. #15
    A repost on Sean Casey (the Liberal MP)'s website of an article published on Monday by the Hills Times, which was only available through subscription:

    THE HILL TIMES: Feds’ anti-prostitution legislation ‘destined’ for a legal challenge, could take years

    By Rachel Aiello
    Published September 29th, 2014

    The longer would-be challengers of the Conservatives’ controversial anti-prostitution legislation, Bill C-36, wait to go to court following its implementation, the better chance the case will have at succeeding, legal experts say, agreeing that a challenge is forthcoming.

    “It’s quite possible that the very first guy arrested under the purchase or pimping law will decide to launch a constitutional challenge. They could absolutely do that and it could happen two weeks after the law is passed,” said Janine Benedet, associate law professor at the University of British Columbia, who testified at both the House and Senate committee hearings this summer, and represented the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution at the Ontario Court of Appeal stage, and is generally in support of the bill.

    A new challenge would have to focus on the life and times of purchasers, whereas the Bedford case was all about the life and times of sex workers, said Alan Young, lead counsel in Canada vs. Bedford and an associate professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

    Prof. Young said he hasn’t decided yet whether it is best to put this legislation “out of its misery quickly” so that a “constitutionally sound” piece of legislation could be introduced, or to bide time “because we don’t want to have a premature challenge that will be unsuccessful, preventing other people from raising claims for another two decades.”

    Carissima Mathen, an associate professor of law at the University of Ottawa and a constitutional and criminal law expert, said the bill asymmetrically criminalizes one side of a transaction that requires two people.

    “It is a very unusual piece of legislation that is trying to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on Bedford but it also in a way is trying to change the terms of the debate,” she said.

    Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, or “An Act to amend the Criminal Code in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in Attorney General of Canada v. Bedford and to make consequential amendments to other Acts,” was introduced by Justice Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, N.S.) and first read in the House on June 4. There were special committee hearings this summer, and the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee came back early to host pre-study hearings, working to have the new law in place before the existing legislation expires Dec. 20. The bill is awaiting final approval in the House and could be sent to the Senate this week.

    The bill would amend the Criminal Code to prohibit purchasing sexual services or communicating in any place for that purpose, and prohibit benefiting from the sale of a sexual service. The only substantive amendment made following the House hearings was to define the public places where people under the age of 18 could be as being open to public view, next to a school, playground or daycare.

    There are no definite plans to challenge it yet but Prof. Young told The Hill Times there are a lot of people interested.

    Caroline Newcastle, a sex worker and spokesperson for Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate and Resist (POWER), also said she has not heard of any explicit plans to form a challenge, but said it is inevitable as this bill reproduces many of the dangers struck down in Bedford.

    “Some of us will die as a result of this legislation,” she said, adding that the bill impacts sex workers’ ability to safely screen clients and makes them more vulnerable without the ability to legally hire protection. She also said prohibiting them from being able to advertise their services explicitly will affect their ability to communicate the line of consent.

    “I expect that by 2015 a legal challenge will have been commenced and if a legal challenge isn’t commenced, it will be not long after that,” said Liberal Justice critic Sean Casey (Charlottetown, P.E.I.).

    Independant Newfoundland Liberal Senator George Baker, a member of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee set to study the bill, agreed.

    “It seems destined for a constitutional challenge,” he said in an interview with The Hill Times.

    The committee still plans to hold more hearings, he said, but they “might not be very extensive,” before Bill C-36 is passed in its current form. He said he doesn’t think it is possible to amend the legislation enough to make it acceptable constitutionally.

    “Listening to Parliament [say] that you’re going to make a provision for a prostitute to carry on her activity or his activity of prostitution…while at the same time you make a declaration that the act of prostitution is illegal for the first time in Canadian history-a reasonable person would say that is completely contradictory. Why doesn’t Parliament just make up its mind? If they’re going to make it illegal, make it illegal; if they’re going to make it legal, make it legal. It’s a very complicated piece of legislation,” he said.

    NDP MP Françoise Boivin (Gatineau, Que.), her party’s justice critic and outspoken opponent of the legislation, said it would be important to watch and learn from the provinces how the courts interpret and the police forces implement the legislation after it’s passed because it’s ultimately their jurisdiction to administer.

    She said it would be interesting to approach groups impacted by the new laws after the next federal election, scheduled for Oct. 19, 2015, to see “how it was lived.”

    The bill was debated in the House on Sept. 22 after the House Justice Committee’s report was presented in the House a week before.

    Prior to the debate, the Speaker read out the notice of motions made. There were 52, all from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C), who had placed the motions in an attempt to delete the bill in its entirety. Like both Mr. Casey and Ms. Boivin, she said it was beyond amending and destined for a constitutional challenge.

    Legal experts said a new court challenge could take anywhere between two and 10 years, with it most likely to take three to five years to make its way through the courts and appeal process. It’s thought that any new challenge will be slightly shorter than the six years it took for Bedford from filing to completion, because the comprehensive information and evidence compiled in that case will still be applicable for reference in a new challenge.

    There are two options for a court challenge: either a criminal case or a civil proceeding like Bedford.

    Prof. Young, associate professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall Law School, said it isn’t clear yet what the exact nature of the challenge will be, or which area of the legislation it would focus on, but a criminal challenge would be the form more likely to come first.

    All experts agreed that although the existing thousands of pages of evidence will help form a case, if they were to be the constitutional litigator, they’d like the time to gather new evidence to demonstrate how the new law is impacting sex workers and purchasers and to make realistic conclusions.

    By the time Bedford was being argued in the Ontario Court of Appeal in 2011, there was plenty of new and interesting evidence both in Canada and internationally that couldn’t be referred to because the 88 volumes of evidence collected for the case was compiled in 2005, said Prof. Benedet.

    The big question now is how long it will take to build up the evidence that the claimants feel is sufficient to be successful, because as Mr. Baker pointed out, civil challenges, if lost, can be very expensive.

    Prof. Young said that he has had conversations with the three Bedford plaintiffs-Amy Lebovitch, Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott-and other sex workers involved in the case, but he hasn’t made any concrete plans to represent a case again.

    “We’ve reached a situation where everybody is knocking on the door thinking, ‘I should be the next one to do this,’ and that’s good but it’s also bad if it’s done precipitously,” he said.

    It is possible that having multiple challenges across provinces could compel the federal government to send a reference to the Supreme Court, which is the second option available, and discussed by all the legal experts and opposition parties The Hill Times spoke with.

    A federal or provincial government could send a reference to the Supreme Court of Canada or a provincial Superior Court or Queen’s Bench, in which they could pose a question or questions to the court about the constitutionality of various points of the bill and allow the court to declare its constitutionality. This reference could be initiated at any time, when the law is at any stage of the lawmaking process. If they deemed the bill, or portions of it, unconstitutional, it would give Parliament another opportunity to come up with a piece of legislation that conforms with the Charter.

    It’s an option that could move very quickly, as seen with the government asking the Supreme Court to determine whether C-7, the bill to allow for Senate term limits, was constitutional. But the current government has made it clear it isn’t interested in pursuing that option, so the earliest a reference could come up would be after the October 2015 election. It’s something the Justice critics have alluded to.

    “I think that any responsible government now or after 2015 should save all of the parties the time and expenses associated with a challenge to this legislation and refer it to the Supreme Court,” said Mr. Casey.

    Legal experts, though, are hesitant to declare this the best option. While it does have value in potentially expediting a process if the Supreme Court invalidates or modifies the legislation, preventing Charter rights being broken in the meantime, references are done on argument as opposed to on legislative fact evidence, which could result in a decontextualized decision, baring little weight over the initial question sought to be answered, said Prof. Young.

    “I do believe the flaws in the law, some are apparent on the face of the statutes and some will only emerge with time as we see how the law is being applied and implemented in communities.”

    Prof. Benedet said that the government has to have the time to enact the social supports and programs that coincide with the bill, like the $20-million over five years the Conservatives have pledged to aid with sex workers’ exit strategies from the industry, to evaluate the overall effectiveness.

    “The law alone is not going to make it effective. You need programs that are both deterring entry into prostitution and programs on the other end that are providing women with viable alternatives for a source of income,” she said.

    The piece was originally published here:

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