Good news! Or at least, interesting news for Canadian law and social policy. Just in time for Christmas, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that the current legislation on prostitution related offences are unconstitutional.
The ruling is suspended for one year, so that the federal government can amend the legislation that has been struck down. Knowing our government, they will do their utmost to find a way around the Supreme Court’s ruling, so for the next year the future of sex work in Canada will be in limbo.
But even with the delay and the inevitable attempts by the government to continue to endanger sex workers under the guise of maintaining law and order, this is a very big deal.
You can read an excellent analysis of the Justices’ decision and the way it avoids dealing with the intersectional issues of race and class here, but rather than talking about the ruling itself, I think the debate around abolition vs. decriminalization/legalization is worth looking at in greater depth. People and groups on both sides of the debate claim that they’re working for the best interests of the women involved (yes, there are men working in the sex trade and this legislation affects them too, but this is still primarily a situation in which the primary providers of sex are women, and the primary consumers are men).
So given that this is an issue of women’s safety and women’s rights, and most everyone involved in the debate wants to promote both, how can they have such differing opinions on how to get there?
For those just introducing themselves to this issue, the discussion is largely polarized between those who support abolition and those pushing for decriminalization and/or legalization. Read more