Depending on your moral or religious beliefs, the idea of legalizing “sex work” may seem outrageous. However, there might be some sanity behind the Canadian Supreme Court’s 9-0 ruling.
Selling sex for money has actually never been illegal in Canada, although some of the actions commonly involved in “sex work” have been outlawed (i.e., making a living from prostitution, street soliciting, and having a brothel).
The idea behind overturning the laws enacted by Canadian Parliament governing prostitution, is keeping the women who solicit themselves safe. One of the main arguments was that a brothel is a more secure place for the “sex workers” to be, rather than on the streets. In 2007, several prostitutes were murdered at the hands of serial killer Robert Pickton, and the general thought was that this would have been less likely to happen had the “sex workers” had a safe haven to “work” from. The laws were also overturned to protect them from pimps, and to have larger overall protections in their “work.”
This is not to say that Canada doesn’t disagree with the acts of prostitution. They have given Parliament one year to come up with better laws that ensure the safety of the “sex workers,” while still trying to reduce the acts of the “sex industry”.
Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, writing on behalf of the court, said: These appeals and the cross-appeal are not about whether prostitution should be legal or not, they are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster. I conclude that they do not.
Another quote from the Canadian Supreme Court was: A law that prevents street prostitutes from resorting to a safe haven such as Grandma’s House while a suspected serial killer prowls the streets, is a law that has lost sight of its purpose.
On the other hand, the Huffington Post reported on this issue and had this to add for the opposition to the court ruling: Don Hutchinson, vice president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, a religious group that opposes the decriminalization of prostitution, warned the decision could lead to increased human trafficking and victimization of people.
It’s important to stop harmful practices from happening, while still remembering that they are going to happen regardless. There’s also a fine line in ensuring things, that are bound to happen, are done safely and within regulation, without simultaneously condoning it, and allowing it to happen more freely. That is the challenge that the Canadian Parliament will be facing these next twelve months.
*Information and quotes were used from an article in the Huffington Post By, Charmaine Noronha.