So, I fell behind on my post-a-day self-challenge for January. I thought it would be a good idea but … not so good. I am in a super-challenging/wonderful course for the January term in law school and it is challenging me in all sorts of ways. I have a major paper due at the end of April and I also have a journaling assignment due on Friday next week (which has to take a priority, obviously).
One thing though: Perhaps, the self-challenge forced me to write about things that I normally wouldn’t think to write about which I am not entirely certain if I wrote about things other than I normally write about. Also, my reading week begins next week and I will continue this self-challenge until the end of the month to the best of my ability.
I wanted to write something because I haven’t written in about two days and I need to write several things today (one article, some journals and a case deconstruction which is also for this January course). If you can’t tell by now, I love writing. Writing for me is healing. It helps me to think in other ways and to also let me “get things off my chest.” Aside from all this school/professional/personal stuff, I also have a personal journal—I literally love to write (which sort of grew after my car accident and my brain injury which I’ve written about else where).
So, this is sort of connected to my case deconstruction but it’s not (because it’s not part of the class). This post is about a case I read about when I was randomly reading cases that had nothing to do with my legal education (okay, I also like to read things… especially things that have nothing to do with law school).
This case is called R v Byron and it is a couple of years old (2013).
Byron was convicted of “procuring a person who was under the age of 18 for the purposes of prostitution; that he was aiding, abetting or compelling a person under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution and that he was living off the avails of that prostitution.” The victims, IB and AD, were both under age (17 years old). IB was a ward of the state at the time. IB also had FASD and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Both of IB’s parents are deceased. There is not much about AD.
Byron met IB in Windsor and Byron brought IB and her friend, AD, to Montreal. AD did not feel “comfortable” and decided to leave. IB could not leave because she did not “have the financial means” to leave.
The story the case tells is one that people assume the sex trade to be like: exploitative, abusive, violent involving vulnerable girls. Yes, that type of stuff happens. It is sad but I wanted to highlight this case because it caused me to feel so much rage after I read one particular paragraph. This paragraph reads:
 IB was not so fortunate. She was a ward of the CAS and was required to remain in the province of Ontario, a restriction she had violated by her trip to Montreal. She testified that she was afraid of being arrested for this violation and that she had no means by which to return to Windsor on her own.
This paragraph makes me so angry because it just highlights the issues with the child welfare system and highlights the issues with using criminal laws or criminalization to “protect” children. IB was more afraid of being arrested then seeking out help. Just think about that for a moment. Imagine being in IB’s shoes.
While Byron was convicted and later sentenced, there could not be a clearer case which says criminalizing people to protect them does not actually protect them. I know this is hard for some people to actually accept. I know that some people will try to say I am advocating for the continued exploitation of young women and girls (and I know this because people have previously told me this) and this is false. I just want people to think about ways other than criminalizing people to “protect” or “save” them. Though someone might say this case is an example where criminalizing something saved IB and thus, criminalization works. But we must remember: this case took place in 2013, before C-36 came into effect and well, the laws worked then.
You can read the sentencing decision here: R v Byron.