Not a Crime in Canada to Sell Sex for Money

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 07:17
Submitted by Carlin Ross

Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford is being awarded the Ontario Civil Liberties Award in November for challenging Canada's anti-prostitution laws in court. Not only were these laws struck down as unconstitutional, but the court was very clear about any future legislation regulating sex work stating that parliament could regulate against nuisances:

"but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes... It is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money."

It has given parliament one year to come up with new prostitution laws.

Love this that she brought her riding crop to that she testified without fear...curious to see how things progress in Canada.

Editor in Chief & Keeper of All Things Betty Dodson

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Fri, 10/24/2014 - 04:22

In Northern Ireland earlier this week it was made a criminal offence to buy sex through the human trafficking and exploitation bill passed in Belfast. It follows similar legislation passed in the liberal Nordic countries, Sweden (1999) followed by Norway and Iceland.

The campaign to implement similar legislation in the rest of the UK is gaining ground. The European Parliament has voted to push forward the Nordic model. Canada is looking at similar legislation.

In the UK is not a criminal offence to sell sex per se much like Canada.  Most of the law is based around avoiding public nuiscance ie. it is an offence to solicit sex or kerb-crawl. It's an offence to make a living from someone else selling sex, to pimp or keep a brothel.

There is a serious problem with women (sometimes trafficked into the UK or Europe) used and abused by criminal gangs, forced into prostitution. There is a problem with women who resort to prostitution to fund their drug abuse who could use some help to reclaim their lives.

At the other end of the spectrum you have women like Terri-Jean Bedford or Laura Lee the Irish campaigner for sex worker rights who have freely chosen to work as prostitutes.

What do people think of the new legislation, to make the "john" the criminal? What is the best way to balance the rights of those choosing freely to work as prostitutes versus those forced into it by circumstance or criminal action?

Whether we're talking about

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 07:44
Carlin Ross

Whether we're talking about political sex scandals, prostitution or dating sex, I think it all boils down to the culture making women solely responsible for sex.  We wear the scarlet letter - we're the sluts, whores, and homewreckers.

Yes, I would like to see laws that focus on the "John".  And I would like to see legal sex work thrive.  We know that in states like Rhode Island, where they inadvertantly legalized sex work, sexual assaults decreased.  Sex is a primal urge and it needs a relief valve. 

As long as the women are of consentual age and freely choosing sex work (no pimp/drugs etc), then it should be legal and regulated. And I would add that they have to be the ones profiting from the exchange. A whiff of sex trafficking or pimping and the "Johns" and "pimps" and "traffickers" are charged and jailed. 

It can be done.

Exploitation and prostitution

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 17:32

Newer anti-prostitution laws seem ostensibly aimed at protecting women (although let's not forget male and transsexual prostitutes, who usually seem ignored in the sex-work discussion).

I don't think it's possible, however, to entirely separate our culture's long history of anti-sexuality from actions to regulate the practice and patronization of sex work. The rationale for laws against sex work may be protection, but whether it's the prostitute or the 'john' who is the target of the law, the end result is that participation in sexual acts is being criminalized simply because those acts are sexual in nature. Yes, it's wrong to punish only the prostitute, but what's really the point of arresting either the sex worker or the customer? I think the point is public humiliation, which is imposed with a high degree of self-righteous cruelty and glee. If we really wanted to help these people, we'd try to locate them out of kindness and offer them job training, detox, and therapy---whatever they needed to better their lives. But that's seldom what we do.

World-wide, the number of prostitutes who are happily self-employed is probably very small. Most are certainly in thrall to pimps, gangsters, poverty, or drug addiction. I worked with prostitutes at times in my health-care work; nearly every one was addicted to hard drugs and hated her life and 'work'. People know whether they're being treated as human beings, or simply being used. Let's rescue those who are being coerced in any way, and offer them decent lives instead.

I would argue, however, that practicing or patronizing sex work, even when freely chosen and in relatively safe conditions, is a misuse of our capacity for intimacy. Our sex drive is not the only need we have; we must also have caring touch and genuine connection, for example, of which typical sex work provides only a sad parody. There are ways of relieving our sexual desires that don't involve any risk to anyone. Nearly all of us can relieve our 'primal urges' ourselves with our hands or a vibrator. There's simply no need to involve a stranger and use their body (or take their money) without any regard for their personal history or their very humanity. There may be many good reasons for de-criminalizing and regulating sex work. Safety and public health, for example---what health care calls 'harm reduction'. (And sex trafficking and coercion must be stopped). There is arguably a place for 'healers' who help to overcome sexual problems, too. But reducing the harm involved in sex work does not mean that it's inherently harmless. There is a real psychological cost to reducing intimate contact to a mere commercial transaction, as if we were paying our plumber for unclogging a pipe. What I'd really like to see eventually is a society that gives all of us such a good, loving, sex-positive start in life that our needs for intimacy, sexual fulfillment, and meaningful work are all met so well that sex work itself withers away and disappears.

Not illegal in the US either

Sat, 11/22/2014 - 10:25
Jeffrey65802 (not verified)

...if you call it making porn. ;)

Hands off voluntary sexual exchanges!

Mon, 11/24/2014 - 02:16
Ron The Logician (not verified)

Exchange of money or some other valuable consideration for sex makes sense for the same reason as it does for tennis play: It's not always the case that two partners find playing with one another equally (or even at all) intrinsically rewarding. It's JUST PLAIN NUTS to legally sanction EITHER the tennis client or the tennis pro! And by the way, sanctioning either party hurts BOTH if the transaction is mutually desirable. If that's a mystery, talk to an economist about the difference between the imposition and the incidence of some taxation!

Naturally, one should respect the humanity and dignity of one's service providers. This applies whether one is talking about a beautician, a shoeshine boy, a bathroom cleaner, a physician, a personal trainer or a sex worker.

Lunatic supernatural religious cults, such as the one which believes a man can give birth through his ribcage, human parthenogensis exists and long-dead corpses will one glorious day spring back to life, bear much of the blame for a loathing of natural sexual apetites, and the consequent fallout for the many ways these apetites can be gratified according to individual tastes and conveniences. But curiously, notwithstanding this, in medieval times, the Catholic Church itself would sponsor brothels, echoing the ancient (pagan) Roman sentiment that male sexual apetites often exceed the opportunities provide by monogamous matrimony, and it is better to provide an outlet for same than to ("double standard") endure the social consequences of extramarital sex by women.

Unless you are a Red, there is no INTRINSIC harm to involving agents, employers, "traffickers" or whatever else you want to call madams, pimps and the like. But when activities are forced (say by legal prosecution or social persecution) out of the sight of the law, or when clandestine violence and other duress can be applied with impunity because of the great economic or political asymmetry between cooperating parties, there then exists the opportunity for GRAVE injustice. But it has nothing to do with SEX, and equally applies to, say, sewing clothing.

Do you think there are no slave labor sewing shops? But does that mean ALL employment is bad? If you haven't noticed, few people have the skills needed in complicated developed economies to succeed as proprietors, especially given the brow-beating into conformity and obsequiousness the typical person receives in consequence of all-but-mandatory long-term imprisonment in a typical public school system as a psychologically vulnerable child.