Ontario Superior Court Justice Susan Himel has struck down three provisions of Canada’s anti-prostitution laws, saying:
“These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Himel wrote in a 132-page decision. “I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by other members of the public.”
The lack of law in Ontario takes place in 30 days; but the case has to go to the Supreme Court of Canada to be coast to coast.
Unsurprisingly, the current conservative government of the day is considering an appeal.
And it’s certainly no surprise that the Christian Legal Fellowship, R.E.A.L. Women and the Catholic Civil Rights League were interventions in the case and argued against decriminalizing sex work.
The only surprise for me was that R.E.A.L. women were still around – they emerged in the mid 90’s, a Ladies Against Women sort of organization who promote that women should be at home with the kids; so you have to wonder what they are doing on the talk show circuit.
Decriminalization is a step short of legalizing – the activity or substance isn’t legal or illegal – it’s left in a limbo wink wink keep it to yourself and we can pretend that you’re not doing it zone.
Like abortion in Canada – the law against abortion was struck down and never replaced. For American readers, any Canadian politician who doesn’t want to be elected has only to mention “abortion” to guarantee defeat.
In Canada, we don’t like to make public debate over private matters – so yes to arguing over Quebec separatism but not so much anything remotely sex related. We’ve seen how the US is do divided over private matters that tend to not be of concern to the public.
Back to the topic.
Religious groups, righteous wing groups and the conservative government all seek to control and restrict women’s freedom of choice, bodily integrity and, well, basically women’s lives.
The reasons to decriminalize and even legalize sex work is clear to anyone except the righteous.
Sex workers are safer when they are not forced into the shadows, when they can access police for help with problem Johns, when they can if not unionize, at least work in co-op brothels with bouncers, regular medical check ups and safety.
Legalized, there is more likely to be a reduction in child prostitution, and the pimps would go the way of the dinosaurs. This would also reduce the drug addiction and eliminate a lot of the criminal element in the sex worker world.
I don’t know how any person who considers themselves to be moral would oppose legal changes that increase the safety, improve health and reduce the exploitation of women, transgendered people and teens or children of all genders.
Wait, those “moral” types are always more concerned about pushing their idea of moral into the public square, no matter who is harmed – which always seems to be women, children and other minorities. Including gays and lesbians.
The Religious Righteous can’t full court press for what they really want – women and ethnic minorities unable to vote and second class, children seen but not heard and open season on gays and lesbians who escape from their Go Down for Jesus therapy.
Prostitution is the oldest profession, and comparatively recent religious sentiment is not going to end it.
Prohibition causes more problems than it ever solves, yet we seem to as a society need to constantly be reminded of that.
Prohibition gives organized crime a solid economic base of operations. This also results in policing costs, lost tax revenue and people pushed to the margins so dark that they aren’t looked for when they disappear in a serial killer’s car.
Ideally, no one should have to be a sex worker. It’s not naive but rather purposeful idiocy to pretend that people are ever going to stop buying and selling sex.
If we care about safety, health and equality, then we need to legalize prostitution and stop forcing sex workers to be marginalized, vulnerable and unable to access police or have the same civil rights as everyone else.
People who fall, drift or chose sex work are not second class or lesser than anyone else – but people who would put their chosen and so called morals over the safety and civil rights of others, really are the second class people who, too often, have more than their share of civil rights and public influence.
Given how many religious leaders are exposed as adulterers, embezzlers, addicts and if they are anti-gay, turn out to be deep down low self loathing closet cases is is astonishing how can they claim to have the inside track on morality that they seek to impose on other people who do not share their religion or their beliefs.
So, here’s a message from Elvis to everyone who thinks that they can run someone else’s life better:
So, can decriminalized or even legalized marijuana be that far behind?