My submission to the DoJ "Public Consultation on Prostitution-Related Offences in Canada"

In light of the Bedford decision, the Canadian Department of Justice is seeking public input on sex work laws before filing an official response. I have, personally, never been a sex worker, nor have I ever hired one. However, being in favor of an enlightened, realistic, 21st century approach to sex work (as opposed to a head in the sand, unrealistic, dangerous, puritanical approach) I responded with the following. [Send your comments by filling out the form at http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cons/curr-cours/proscons-conspros/process.cfm]


Prostitution is referred to as the “oldest profession”. It has been made illegal in many cultures and civilizations at various points in history and, to the best of my knowledge, has never been successfully eliminated from any society ever.

We, as a society, value commerce and the buying and selling of goods and services.

We also decided long ago, as a society, that the government has no place in the bedrooms of Canadians.

Attempts at the prohibition of prostitution ultimately waste funds and go against these core principles. At the same time our current and traditional laws make the occupation more dangerous than it needs to be for everyone involved, allow for non-consensual prostitution and encourage human trafficking and under age prostitution. Current laws also promote the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

By contrast, a legal and regulated market for prostitution gives sex workers greater control over their professional lives, it gives them a greater measure of safety and security, discourages human trafficking and underage prostitution and helps to control and monitor the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Sex workers should be licensed and as part of that licensing process they should be interviewed to ensure that their participation is consensual and regularly tested for STD/STIs. Ideally those who wish to hire sex workers should also be regularly tested for STIs.

Employers (Managers) seeking to profit from the prostitution of others should also be regulated to ensure that those they hire are licensed and that they maintain safe workplaces, workplace practices and that all parties are adequately insured against possible risks.

A process should be put in place to address sex worker complaints against abuse, unsafe workplaces or practices. A whistleblower process should also be put in place to protect sex workers who report unsafe conditions, abuse, human trafficking or underage prostitution.

A program should also be put in place to help sex workers transition into other occupations. This as well as the programs and licensing systems outlined above should be paid for by taxes levied on the industry.

This framework creates the best and safest environment for everyone involved, while saving police and court resources and protecting immigrants and children. ‘The oldest profession’ is, simply, never going to go away. Instead of pretending that we can do the impossible, we need to bring sex work into the light of day where it can be monitored and regulated like any other industry and where sex workers and those who hire them can be protected.
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