Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sex-trade workers can make their case

High court allows challenge of laws

  • Print

VANCOUVER -- A group of Vancouver sex-trade workers can challenge the country's prostitution laws, the Supreme Court of Canada said Friday.

In a unanimous ruling, the high court dismissed a federal government appeal against the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society and former sex worker Sheryl Kiselbach.

The decision means the group can proceed with its legal fight, arguing prostitution laws violate the constitutional rights of sex-trade workers to equality, freedom of association and freedom of expression.

"It was ridiculous, really, how it took five years to get there," said Kiselbach, who worked in what she describes as the "survival" sex trade for 30 years. She is now a community worker.

"I'm very happy that now, finally, I can go to court and tell the judges how these laws affected me and how they continue to affect other sex workers, and hopefully create some change."

Kiselbach pointed to the notorious case of serial killer Robert Pickton as an example of the violence experienced by women involved in the sex trade on the streets of Vancouver.

"It escalates into other things, as we saw with Pickton and different predators that are around," she said. "It sends a message to the predators also that they can no longer violate this marginalized population."

Now the women must decide whether to proceed immediately, or put their case on hold to await the outcome of a similar effort in Ontario involving former dominatrix Terry-Lynne Bedford.

In that case, the Ontario appeal court struck down a ban on brothels, saying it exposes sex workers to danger. The federal government is appealing the Ontario ruling to the Supreme Court of Canada.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said the case will now return to B.C. Supreme Court.

"Our government is opposed to the legalization or normalization of prostitution," Julie Di Mambro said in a statement.

"It is harmful to vulnerable persons, especially women. We believe the current Criminal Code provisions are constitutionally sound as they denounce and deter the most harmful and public aspects of prostitution.

"Canadians can count on this Conservative government to continue to fight to ensure the law protects the health, safety and security of all Canadians and the well-being of our communities."

Katrina Pacey, the lawyer from the Pivot Legal Society who represented the sex workers, said it has already been a long fight.

"This case was not meant to be an access to justice case. This case was about striking down Canada's harmful prostitution laws. Nevertheless, we have spent five years, endless lawyer hours, endless resources, a fight that took us all the way to Ottawa last January," she said.

She said the Vancouver group is considering seeking intervener status in the Ontario case.

Technically, prostitution is not illegal in Canada. What is illegal is keeping a bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution or living off the avails of prostitution.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 22, 2012 A20

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Andrew Ladd reflects on the season

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Jia Ping Lu practices tai chi in Assiniboine Park at the duck pond Thursday morning under the eye of a Canada goose  - See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge Day 13- May 17, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Susan and Gary Harrisonwalk their dog Emma on a peaceful foggy morning in Assiniboine Park – Standup photo– November 27, 2011   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think Manitoba needs stronger regulations for temporary workers?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google