Thursday, September 30, 2010


The Daily Mail headline may be a bit premature since this is the ruling of only one Canadian judge.
Mail Online
September 29, 2010
Canada has taken a large step towards decriminalizing prostitution after a judge agreed with a dominatrix that current laws put sex workers at increased risk from violent clients.
Prostitution itself is not illegal in Canada, but there are laws which criminalize most aspects of the trade.
However, at Ontario Superior Court, Justice Susan Himel repealed three of those laws to allow 'communicating for the purposes of prostitution, pimping and operating a brothel.'

The ruling came in a case brought by Toronto dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, whose Bondage Bungalow in northern Toronto has previously been raided by police.
Ms Bedford, described in court documents as a prostitute who had been beaten and raped while working in the streets of Windsor, Calgary and Vancouver, argued the laws force sex workers from the safety of their homes to face violence on the streets.
She said: 'It's like emancipation day for sex trade workers.
'The federal government must now take a stand and clarify what is legal and not legal between consenting adults in private.'

Justice Himel said the laws violated a provision of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms which guarantee 'the right to life, liberty and security' and agreed that the dangers prostitutes face far outweigh any potential harm to the public.
In a 131-page ruling, Justice Himel said: 'These laws... force prostitutes to choose between their liberty, interest and their right to security of the person.'
Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitc, the other two women who launched the challenge along with Bedford, said the legal changes meant sex workers could now pick up the phone and call the police to report a violent client.

The ruling - which currently only applies to Ontario - is subject to a 30-day delay because Justice Himel gave the Canadian government time to consider how to deal with the potential emergence of unlicensed brothels.
If the decision stands, prostitutes will be able to communicate freely with customers on the street, conduct business in their homes or brothels and hire bodyguards and accountants without exposing them to the risk of criminal sanctions.
But the changes may not come into effect because Canadian Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has said the government is seriously considering an appeal against the ruling.
'We will fight to ensure that the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to both communities and the prostitutes themselves, along with other vulnerable persons,' said Mr Nicholson.
Critics of the legal changes fear the ruling will make Canada a haven for human traffickers.
But street prostitution in the country has attracted attention in recent years following the trial of Robert Pickton, a Vancouver pig farmer who was convicted in 2007 of killing of six sex workers. He is suspected in dozens more killings.

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