Although prostitution is legal in Canada, many acts relating to prostitution are illegal.
s. 210 of the Criminal Code -- the Bawdy House Law-- makes it illegal for sex workers to work out of an environment that they feel safe in (such as their home, commericial residence, etc), and is punishable by up to 2 years in jail and possible seizure of bank accounts and assets, as well as possible eviction.
s. 212 (1) (j) of the Criminal Code -- under the Procuring Laws -- makes it illegal for a sex worker to use her earnings on rent, child care, care for elderly parents, etc. as this is seen as the person recieving the money as "living on the avails". Furthermore, article (3) of the this section makes it illegal for sex workers to live with anyone (as this would be seen as being "habitually in the company of a prostitute"). If a person is found to be living with a sex worker they can face prison time for up to 10 years.
s. 213 of the Criminal Code, which is used in over 90% of charges relating to prostition, the Communicating for the Purposes of Prostitution makes it an offense to arrange sexual services in public or a public place (i.e. a vehicle, bar, street, cell phone, etc).
Under these laws the only legal way a sex worker can work is to be locked in a room with a stranger. By not allowing sex workers to work from their own environment the government is essentially forcing sex workers to work in dangerous places (like the home of a client who could have weapons in the home, other people hiding, and the sex worker will not know an escape route, or if there are deadbolts locking her inside), this is also the case when sex workers cannot negotiate their services in public, thereby having to wait to be alone with a client before hearing about what he is expecting the two of them to do (which may not be what the sex worker wants to do). Not only that, but the laws make it illegal for sex workers to hire drivers, body guards, receptions, -- people that would make sex work safer as these people could risk being charged with the Bawdy House and/or Procuring laws.
These laws also make it difficult for those involved in sex work to call the police when they are in trouble as in the process of giving a report they may inadvertedly admit to committing a crime (such as working in a bawdy house, or communicating in public), meaning that sex workers are reluctant to report crimes to the police.
These laws have not protected sex workers but, instead of put them in danger, and since laws should be about protection people's lives, and not endangering them, we call on the government of Canada to decriminalize the adult prostitution laws.
I support the Safe Haven Initiative's constitutional court challenge to strike down three provisions of the Canadian Criminal Code that prevent sex workers from working in a safe and secure environment: s. 210 (Bawdy House), s. 212 (1) (j) (Living on the Avails), and s. 213 (Communicating for Purposes of Prostitution.
I believe that it is time to decriminalize adult prostitution and ensure that the lives and safety of sex workers are protected.
The Decriminalize Canada's Laws Against Adult Prostitution petition to Rob Nicholson, Minister of Justice was written by Wendy and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.