Last week, Justice Minister Peter Mackay presented Bill C-36 in response to the Supreme Court of Canada decision last year to strike down three laws surrounding prostitution in Canada: prohibiting the ownership of brothels, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public with clients.
These laws put sex workers in danger by preventing them from protecting themselves from perpetrators.
And now, the new proposed legislation – Bill C-36 – criminalizes the clients of sex workers in an attempt to end the sex trade by preventing them from screening clients, negotiating transactions, working in safe areas and having access to police protection.
One of the provisions in the bill includes prohibiting communication for the purpose of selling sex “in a public space, or in any place open to public view, that is or is next to a place where persons under the age of 18 can reasonably be expected to be present.” This is an interesting provision as it begs the question “where are those under the age of 18 reasonably expected to be?”
Another provision prohibits advertisements for the sale of sexual services and gives courts the authority “to order the seizure of materials containing such advertisements and their removal from the Internet.” This begs the question “how exactly will the government police the Internet?”
Safety & Security
In the preamble of the bill, the government urges sex workers to “report incidents of violence” and ultimately pushes for them to “leave prostitution” altogether.
If encouraging sex workers to report incidents of violence, should there not be increased support for sex workers and anti-violence groups aimed at helping sex workers? How about mandatory police training related to issues of violence, power and sex work? If safety is of the utmost importance, providing outlets for sex workers to work safely is necessary.
And if part of the government’s aim is to eliminate sex work, should there not be harm reduction practices in place across the country? Should there not be a plan to provide safe and secure housing to all citizens? How about a campaign to end poverty? Eliminating sex work doesn’t solve the problem if some of the root causes are still rampant.
What would a model based on safety and security look like?
Sourced from Huffington Post