Sex Workers Challenge Law

Three Toronto sex workers are bringing a constitutional challenge to the laws that criminalize prostitution.

Terri Jean Bedford, Val Scott (who spoke at the SDSSU conference on sex work in March) and Amy Lebovitch are asking the court to strike down the Criminal Code provisions that prohibit running a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of prostitution.  Their argument is that these laws endanger women, making it more dangerous and the women far more exposed to violence. The argument should be a no brainer.  Criminal laws don’t protect sex workers.  Criminal laws make it illegal to practice their profession in a safe manner.  Criminal laws make sex workers more exposed to violence from their clients, and harassment from police.

Yet, the law persists.  It persists because some people just don’t like prostitution.  They think its inherently dangerous and/or immoral or just down right icky.

Well, icky isn’t an legal argument.  Except when it is.  The federal government, with several conservative and religious groups take the view that prostitution is, well, icky.  And they will couch the argument in the language of law enforcement, danger to women, undermining human dignity, Canadian moral values and the like.

Well, if Canadian moral values were measured by the demand for sex work, I’d say that we were a nation in favour of prostitution.

Sex – whether for money or not – just shouldn’t be that big a deal.  People have sex.  Some people pay for it.  Some people like to pay for it.  Get over it.  And make the lives of the sex trade workers a little safer.  Get the laws off their bodies…

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