Criminal Code Provisions against Sex-Work Shot down in Ontario

Sep 29, 2010 • Freedom, News

It’s a day of victory for sex-workers in Ontario, who won a case challenging criminal code provisions against soliciting prostitution, pimping and operating an establishment where sex work takes place.

Superior court justice Susan Himel struck down all three provisions. The decision will take effect in 30 days — unless Crown lawyers can appeal with arguments strong enough to delay the decision from taking effect.

Federal justice minister Rob Nicholson expressed concern with the ruling, citing the welfare of sex-workers and the communities where they operate.

“The government is very concerned about the Superior Court’s decision and is seriously considering an appeal,” Nicholson said in a statement.

Judge Himel doesn’t see how the government is trying to protect sex-workers, as the laws that exist do little to ensure their protection from assault or murder — the latter painfully illustrated by a series of murders at the hands of Robert Pickton, a Vancouver pig farmer. The laws force sex-workers to conduct business in secret, with no protection from the authorities, making sex-work more dangerous.

“By increasing the risk of harm to street prostitutes, the communicating law is simply too high a price to pay for the alleviation of social nuisance,” Himel said. “I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public.”

The Crown’s main argument was that nothing made sex-work less dangerous and that in and of itself, prostitution is inherently degrading and unhealthy, and measures should be taken to prevent women from thinking of it as a legitimate career choice. Their arguments were — rather unsurprisingly — replete with misinformation and stereotypes regarding the sex industry.

Information from The Globe and Mail.