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.

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.


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.


Undermining democracy and human rights: A cautionary tale about anti-choice politics

Photo: Alexandra Lee / Flickr

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Last week, Parliament and the pro-choice movement got a temporary reprieve from the relentless onslaught of anti-choice motions and bills introduced by Conservative backbenchers who won't take Harper's "No abortion debate allowed" for an answer. Not a single one made the list of pending private members' business for this session.


A cynical view of Conservative politics and voters

Photo: Tigana/flickr

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January 2014 marks eight full years of power for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, years filled with sweeping attacks on a host of things that Canadians value dearly. He and his Conservative government have damaged or weakened Canada's health-care system, social welfare programs, women's equality and human rights initiatives, First Nations rights, environmental protection, science and evidence-based policies, our international reputation as peacekeepers, and our very democracy.


A bittersweet victory for sex workers

Sex workers’ delighted cries of excitement resounded across the country last week when they heard the thrilling news that the Supreme Court of Canada had tossed out the worst of our country’s criminal laws against prostitution. The decision means that basic human rights and legal protections have finally been extended to one of society’s most marginalized groups.


Prostituted words: Time for a new style guide

Photo: Mikasi/flickr

Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente wrote in June:

Prostitution is the most exploitative, degrading work on Earth. Despite those stories about high-class call girls, its practitioners are overwhelmingly the most wretched girls and women in society. Prostitution turns women into lumps of meat that are bought and sold for the sexual gratification of men.


Defunding abortion: A non-starter

Photo: Eyton Z/Flickr

The anti-choice movement has launched a national campaign to try to convince provinces to defund abortion. This campaign is the latest of numerous attempts over the years to defund abortion in several provinces (including B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario), beginning immediately after the Supreme Court struck down Canada's abortion law in 1988.


Maternal health without abortion: A fundamental hypocrisy

Photo: DFATD | MAECD/flickr

Even with all of our advanced technology and scientific knowledge, humanity still struggles with widespread poverty and hunger, economic inequality, war and strife, environmental destruction, and a long list of serious human rights abuses -- including high rates of preventable maternal mortality. The latter has been one of the world's most intractable human rights problems because of the low status of women, but recent efforts have shown that it can be significantly reduced. All it takes is political will and a steadfast opposition to right-wing forces.


Anti-choice centres lose lawsuit: What does it all mean?

Photo: Jenn Farr/flickr

Has Canada's anti-choice movement been gaining the upper hand over the last few years? It might seem that way sometimes, and a recent in-depth piece in Maisonneuve raises the spectre of a new "culture war" around abortion, led by energetic young "pro-lifers". But there's another way to look at it, especially taking into account some pro-choice victories.


The audacity of sex workers

Photo: PJ Starr/flickr

When a young and timid journalist attended a recent national sex workers' conference in Las Vegas, she expected to find trafficking victims and sob stories. Instead, she found an atmosphere of happiness and empowerment.

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