Canadian prostitution laws struck down

September 29th, 2010 - 8:32 am ICT by IANS  

Toronto, Sep 29 (IANS) Prostitution was effectively decriminalized in Canada Tuesday after a court here struck down main provisions of prostitution laws on a petition by three sex-trade workers.

“These 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,” Justice Susan Himel of Ontario’s Superior Court of Justice said in her 131-page judgment here.

Prostitution is not illegal in Canada, but methods around it - like operating from home or soliciting clients on the streets - are illegal.

Challenging prostitution laws, the three sex-trade workers - Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott and Amy Lebovitch - argued that ban on maintaining a common bawdy house, communicating with people for the purposes of prostitution and living on the earnings of their trade violated their right to safety (of a bawdy house) and freedom of expression (to communicate to solicit clients).

In their joint petition, Bedford described scars she suffered after a client hit her on the head with a baseball bat when she worked as a street prostitute many years ago.

She argued that they would be safe if allowed to conduct their business indoors as they can employ security guards or monitoring devices.

There have been many cases of violent attacks on prostitutes in the streets and disappearance of many of them, particularly in Vancouver, in recent years.

Since the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms allows sweeping liberties to its people, the three sex trade workers approached the court to knock out anti-prostitution provisions in the Criminal Code.

The judge said the provisions against keeping a common bawdy house, soliciting clients and and living on the avails of the flesh trade indeed violated “the principles of fundamental justice”.

The judgment will not be operational for 30 days, giving the government enough time to take “corrective action”, the judge said, adding that “I also recognize that a consequence of this decision may be that unlicensed brothels may be operated, and in a way that may not be in the public interest”.

Rona Ambrose, Canadian minister for status of women, said the government was “very concerned” and would appeal the verdict.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |