Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Green Light on the Red Light?

Well, things have been getting interesting here in the Province of Ontario. First though, a little something from a internet friend of mine Buzzsawmonkey a real wordsmith:

There she was, just a-walkin' down the street
As a commodity-ditty dum ditty do
Shakin' her ass at every man she did meet
Singin' commodity-ditty dum ditty do

They busted (busted!)
Her ass (her ass!)
And she sued then, very fast

Now you walk in Toronto almost every single day
Singin' commodity-ditty dum ditty do
Watchin' the hookers peddling themselves for pay
Singin' commodity-ditty dum ditty do

They degrade (degrade!)
Themselves (themselves!)
So they lay it on the shelf...

Yep, in thirty days if the federal and provincial governments don't appeal it, prostitution will be legal in this wonderful province.

Prostitution laws struck down

Tracey Tyler Legal Affairs Reporter

A Toronto judge has struck down Canada’s prostitution laws, saying provisions meant to protect women and residential neighbourhoods are endangering sex workers’ lives.

If Justice Susan Himel’s 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.

The Superior Court judge suspended her ruling from taking effect for 30 days to give the government time to consider how to address potential consequences, including the emergence of unlicensed brothels.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the federal government is “very concerned” and is seriously considering an appeal of the 131-page ruling.

Alan Young, a lawyer at the forefront of the landmark legal challenge, said it is too early to say whether Tuesday’s decision could open the door to Canada going “the way of Germany with five-storey brothels.”

But to his client, Terri-Jean Bedford, a dominatrix who was convicted in 1998 of keeping a common bawdy house, it was “emancipation day.”

“How am I going to celebrate? I’m going to spank some ass,” Bedford, cracking a riding whip, told reporters.

Bedford and prostitutes Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch took on the legal might of the federal and provincial governments, their battle waged on a shoestring legal aid budget and the volunteer services of expert witnesses and lawyers.

Scott said the decision means sex workers no longer have to “worry about being raped, robbed or murdered.”

Himel found Criminal Code prohibitions against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of the trade violated the women’s Charter rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.[SNIP]

There's a lot of things in the article about the case. A lot of assumptions too. Is this right? I am divided for a number of reasons. One, the whole liberty and entrepreneurship thing. Others? Lets just say that I know a bit about the whole sex trade industry and it gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Here's this take from someone that is struggling to rescue people from the trade:

Former prostitute 'shocked' by Ont. court decision News Staff

A former sex-trade worker who now helps prostitutes trying to leave the trade, says an Ontario court's decision to strike down Canada's laws surrounding prostitution was a terrible move.

Natasha Falle, who runs StreetLight, a non-profit organization that provides support services for sex workers, and works with the Toronto Police's Sex Crimes Unit, says she was "shocked" by Tuesday's court decision to strike down three provisions of the Criminal Code surrounding prostitution.

"It was very disappointing for me that a judge would determine that this is the best solution for protecting people in the sex trade industry," Falle told CTV's Canada AM Wednesday morning.

The laws prohibited communicating for the purposes of prostitution, keeping a common bawdy house, and living on the avails of the trade.

Justice Susan Himel wrote her in 131-page decision that the laws, "individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms."

Those who wanted the laws to be quashed say they forced hookers to work the streets, instead of in the safety of their homes. But Falle says decriminalizing all aspects of prostitution is not the solution.

"I don't think Canadians understand what this means. This means, if this decision is to carry through… your next door neighbours can run a brothel right beside you. Your children could be exposed to condoms left on their driveway, johns propositioning them," she said. [SNIP]

Now that's from an insider. What's the sex trade really like? Here's this story from the beginning of September.

A woman's escape from sexual slavery

This is the part I think stood out the most for me:
Lindsay washed Brittany off, but it was becoming more difficult to separate the 24-year-old college student from the 28-year-old mother of three.

By the third weekend, Lindsay understood why Paris was so spaced out.

“It’s like you go into a trance. You don’t feel anymore. You don’t see anymore. You don’t hear anymore. You’re there to do what you need to do and that’s it. You totally lose touch of who you are,” she says.

“I didn’t feel like I was (Lindsay) anymore. I actually felt like I was Brittany. Like I didn’t know who (Lindsay) was or even how to get her back.”

The calls were getting slower. She wasn’t making as much money. Tired and shook, Lindsay wanted out.

But the next weekend was the long weekend. Geoffrey promised things would pick up and Lindsay would see how “some of my girls” pull in $3,000 a night.

She agreed to return on Friday, but said she would only pay him $60 per out-call — nothing more. He agreed.

He put her in a waterfront hotel in downtown Toronto. She could see the CN Tower from her room.

She had one three-hour call on Friday and then nothing. All day Saturday, nothing. She couldn’t get a hold of Geoffrey. She was hungry, tired and isolated.[SNIP]

I think that's one thing most people don't realize. They see movies like "Pretty Woman" or some other such film with the "prostitute with the heart of gold" trope, and think that real life is like that. Or they go to Europe where some countries have red light districts and the industry is highly regulated. Would something like that fit here in Canada, much less Ontario? I don't know. I don't think so though. We are different culturally then Europe for one thing. There is too much about this case and the strike down of these laws that needs to be thought upon.

I for one think this is a wrong decision. If it is allowed to stand, the damage to people and neighborhoods will be too much to pay for supporting someones rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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