- Below are my responses to the Federal Department of Justice’s Public Consultation on Prostitution-Related Offences in Canada. This questionnaire was released on February 17, 2014 and will be open for comments until March 17, 2014. You can submit your own comments directly here. I have included my responses in this post so that others can reply in a timely manner and also encourage others to respond to this consultation. Please reply to the questionnaire with your responses (do not copy and paste my answers) to ensure your answers are distinct. If you have any questions, please comment below. If you require additional sources to support your answers (if you choose to respond), let me know and I can get those to you ASAP! Also, South Western Ontario Sex Workers (a volunteer run organization based in London) is encouraging others to copy your responses and send it to your Member of Parliament (to find your MP, please visit this link: http://goo.gl/xfTE5X). They also encourage you to share your responses with SWOSWers by filling out this form http://goo.gl/kS1YDJ or by emailing them directly at swoswers [at] gmail [dot] com, and to also share this call to action with supporters and allies.~In solidarity
1. Do you think that purchasing sexual services from an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
- The purchasing of sexual services from an adult should not be a criminal offence and there should be no exceptions. Evidence shows that when the criminalization of purchasing sexual services occurs that this increases the risks and harms to sex workers, especially those sex workers who are already marginalized (like Indigenous sex workers). These increased risks and harms will ultimately be in contradiction to the Bedford decision and in contradiction with the human rights and labour rights of sex workers to work safely and autonomously.
- 2. Do you think that selling sexual services by an adult should be a criminal offence? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
- The selling of sexual services by an adult should not be a criminal offence and there should be no exceptions. Criminalizing the selling of sexual services would be in contradiction to the Bedford decision and in contradiction to sex workers’ right to work safely and autonomously. Criminalizing the selling of sexual services also prevents sex workers from accessing health services and social services without fear of judgment or fear of arrest. When sex workers live in constant fear of arrest, their standard of living of declines. Additionally, sex workers will be unable to claim taxes and access social benefits since their source of income is criminalized.
- 3. If you support allowing the sale or purchase of sexual services, what limitations should there be, if any, on where or how this can be conducted? Please explain.
- There should be no criminal laws that target prostitution. Non-criminal offences that target prostitution or attempt to regulate the trade should be developed in consultation with sex workers. Further, any non-criminal offences that target or attempt to regulate the trade should not obstruct the labour rights and human rights of sex workers themselves. Canada should employ already existing criminal offences to address cases of abuse, violence, or coercion and to be in line with the Bedford decision.
- 4. Do you think that it should be a criminal offence for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult? Should there be any exceptions? Please explain.
- There should be no criminal offences for a person to benefit economically from the prostitution of an adult. Sex work is work and this is reaffirmed by the Bedford decision. When third parties are criminalized, this further isolate sex workers and criminalizes important working and personal relationships. When third parties are criminalized, this also limits sex workers from working together for safety. When the ability to work safely and autonomously is impeded, this is in complete contradiction to the Bedford decision. Also, by definition, a person under Canadian law includes corporations. Thus, sex workers’ incomes contribute to the economy in a myriad of ways.
- 5. Are there any other comments you wish to offer to inform the Government’s response to the Bedford decision?
- I wholly support the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the three laws as unconstitutional (and ultimately, harmful) and I support the decriminalization of the trade, or the New Zealand model, like mentioned in the discussion paper above. I would like to see a “made-in-Canada” New Zealand model. Evidence shows where sex work is decriminalized, sex workers receive accurate, up-to-date, and non-judgmental health and social services. The Government’s response should be in consultation with sex workers themselves and support the rights of sex workers to work with safety, security, and dignity with access to occupational, health, and safety standards.
- 6. Are you are writing on behalf of an organization? If so, please identify the organization and your title or role:
- I am individual who supports the rights of sex workers to work with safety, security, and dignity.
The Government of Canada is seeking input from the public regarding the SCC Bedford v. Canada decision (you can read about that here). This consultation process is open from February 17, 2014 until March 17, 2014.
The link includes a short discussion paper (albeit a biased position) along with several questions (HERE).
Chris Bruckert, of POWER, states, “This is a really skewed document…you read it and right away you see which way the government wants to go with the legislation.” (Source)
These questions include: