Joyce Arthur

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Joyce Arthur is a founding member of FIRST, a national feminist sex worker advocacy organization based in Vancouver that lobbies for the decriminalization of prostitution in Canada. Joyce works as a technical writer and pro-choice activist, and is the founder and Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, a national pro-choice group in Canada.
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Not criminals, not victims: Sex workers' lives thrown into chaos under new law

Photo: Esther Shannon

On Thursday, November 6, seven masked sex workers spoke at a press conference in Vancouver to give specifics on how Canada's new prostitution law will harm them. The theme was "What a Difference a Day Makes" -- because on Wednesday they were responsible working adults providing a legal service to ordinary Canadians, and on Thursday the law had transformed them into helpless victims being exploited by violent predators and perverts.

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Coming soon: A brave new pro-choice world

Image: www.september28.org

An important day just went by, marked by hundreds of events and campaigns and lots of noise around the world. Some of you may have never heard of it before, but to an abortion rights activist like me, it's practically a statutory holiday.

September 28 is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. The day originated two decades ago in Latin America and the Caribbean where women's groups have been pushing governments to decriminalize abortion and provide safe and affordable access. The date itself commemorates the abolition of slavery in Brazil in 1871, and came to be adopted by Brazilian women as the day of the "free womb."

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A paean to polyglots

Photo: Nina Helmer/flickr

I don't speak French. I wish I could but I can't. Canada is a bilingual country and it was a mandatory course in my high school. I took two years of French in college, and once even hired a tutor for private lessons. Sure, I can still stammer out a few simple sentences in French and understand some of what I read and hear. But Vancouver is a long ways from Quebec. On the west coast, French is rarely heard and, shall we venture to say? -- unnecessary.

'Conscientious objection' when it comes to reproductive health is not conscientious

Photo: surroundsound5000/flickr
When doctors refuse to provide reproductive health-care services based on personal beliefs, most people call it "conscientious objection." In reality, it is the opposite of conscientious.

Related rabble.ca story:

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Prostitution bill poisoned by sexist ideology

Photo: flickr/Silviya Rankova

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The new prostitution bill introduced in June by Injustice Minister Peter MacKay is blatantly unconstitutional and will result in more dead women. Bill C-36 will harm sex workers in even worse ways than the previous criminal provisions that were struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of Canada in December.

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Moving forward with the abortion debate

Photo: Nicole Marie Edine/flickr

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Justin Trudeau's statement that any new candidate for the Liberal Party must agree to vote pro-choice on any bills is positive and entirely appropriate. It stirred up a surprising amount of criticism and confusion in the media, however, in addition to the expected histrionics from anti-choice and religious communities.

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New Brunswick invites the return of unsafe abortions

Photo: Michael Soron/flickr

The government of New Brunswick has embarked upon a perilous political path in recent weeks. It has decided to directly endanger the health and lives of New Brunswick women on the basis of its presumed "pro-life" religious beliefs. The main person behind this decision is, ironically, Health Minister Ted Flemming.

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Patriarchal values dominate the sex work debate

Much has been said and written since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down three prostitution laws in December because they imposed dangerous conditions on sex workers, thereby violating their constitutional right to security of the person. Sex work is legal in Canada, but the criminal laws prohibited various activities around it, including communicating in public, operating or working in a brothel, and living off the income of a sex worker.

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When a government protects workers by criminalizing them

Photo: Justin Scott Campbell/flickr

Imagine for a moment, if the debate over prostitution laws was aimed at other types of workers...

In a bold move aimed at protecting workers from exploitation while on the job, the government today passed a new law that criminalizes most employers and customers. The law addresses the void left by the Supreme Court of Canada in December 2013, when it struck down laws that it said prevented workers from taking safety measures to protect themselves from abusive customers, but which the government said were designed to prevent people from working, period.

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