Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sex-trade laws hurt women

  • Print

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the country's prostitution laws last week, but it left open the door for the federal government to pass new legislation that could reinstate the harmful and unwarranted criminalization of sex-trade workers.

The court only ruled that existing legislation was unconstitutional and it gave Parliament one year to decide how, if at all, it would pass legislation that met constitutional standards.

The court said its unanimous ruling "does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted... It will be for Parliament, should it choose to do, to devise a new approach."

Unfortunately, the Conservative government said it intends to pass new laws that will continue to drive prostitution underground. It said criminal sanctions are necessary "to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to communities, those engaged in prostitution and vulnerable persons."

So, once again, the government intends to continue with its righteous moralizing in the name of protecting women.

A better approach would be to provide direct support for women who need help, particularly drug addicts, the mentally ill and homeless who sell their bodies to make ends meet. Children and other vulnerable persons also need special protection from exploitation, which is already covered under the Criminal Code. The broader solution also includes social supports and safe houses.

People who force women into prostitution against their will should be prosecuted, and cities should have the ability to pass bylaws preventing sex-trade workers from operating in residential neighbourhoods.

But any law that bans sex-trade workers from operating out of a house, or hiring security, or talking to their clients before getting into a car with them merely puts women at risk. That's partly why the court struck down the existing criminal sanctions.

The government and its allies have simply been unable to distinguish between the vulnerable who need help, and others who have made a sober choice to engage in the sex trade.

Prostitution, like any business, should be regulated, but criminalizing it is an offence against the very people the government falsely believes it is protecting.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 23, 2013 A12

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

Huge vigil held in support of Tina Fontaine, Faron Hall

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local-(Standup photo)- A wood duck swims through the water with fall refections in Kildonan Park Thursday afternoon.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What do you think of the new Blue Bombers uniforms?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google