Supreme Court Protects Prostitutes…Next Year

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled on Canada’s prostitution laws, finding that they put sex workers in peril:

The Supreme Court of Canada has struck down the country’s major prostitution laws, saying that bans on street soliciting, brothels and people living off the avails of prostitution are arbitrary and create severe dangers for vulnerable women.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing for a unanimous court, stressed that the ruling is not about whether prostitution should be legal or not, but about whether Parliament’s means of controlling it infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.

“The prohibitions all heighten the risks,” she said. “They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”

While it is great that the Supreme Court has decided to afford basic constitutional protections to sex workers (not to mention a touch of human dignity), it is quite said that this ruling will go into effect in a year. I get that they are giving the government time to adjust to this ruling, but one year is a ridiculously long time. It demonstrates that sex workers still aren’t considered quite as worthy as the rest of us.

No doubt, more will be said of this in the coming hours, days and weeks.

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2 thoughts on “Supreme Court Protects Prostitutes…Next Year

  1. I’m really not comfortable with the idea that the Supreme Court may, in effect (even if they claim that’s not what they’re doing) be legalizing prostitution by fiat. It’s a very serious policy issue, and I think the courts have gone beyond their purview in this. They can’t know whether striking down those laws will, in the long run, make conditions better or worse for women who have entered or been coerced into the sex trade, so they don’t have basis to conclude that striking them down will further those women’s constitutional rights.

    From what I’ve read about countries that have legalizing prostitution – in a book about modern-day slavery – in countries like the Netherlands where it’s been done it’s led to increased sex trafficking and sex slavery, because it’s easier to disguise an illegal and coerced brothel as a legit brothel than it is to disguise a brothel as another type of business.

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