Is this a fair representation?
Sex Workers in this context refers solely to what is commonly referred to as prostitution. Sex Workers use the term to indicate that they have willingly chosen their profession.
Prostitutes, in this context refers to women who do not want to be prostitutes but were forced into it through physical violence, coercion, or poverty.
The three arguments for and against decriminalization are based on: worker safety, worker rights and personal freedom.
1) Safety, decriminalization could result in either greater or lessor safety.
Safety, meaning physical harm, rape, assault, unsafe sexual practices, physical coercion, forced trafficking, child prostitution.
2) Individual worker rights versus the collective right of women to be protected from exploitation.
Worker rights include UIC, pensions, etc. but also the right to be protected from exploitation. "Voluntary" migrant workers fall under this category as does economic coercion and luring under false pretenses like exagerating the amount of money to be made.
3) Freedom of the individual versus community rights to control environment through barring harmful practices.
Communities can be negatively impacted by criminal elements, citizens being accosted on the street, condoms and needles strewn about and a repellant atmosphere. Linked to this is the more ideological argument of promoting equality, respect for women and Canada's image in the world. Do we want sex tourism?
Proponents of full decriminalization believe that harmful and exploitative practices can be handled through existing laws against rape, assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, trafficking, etc. Proponents of partial decriminalization contend that despite laws the illegal components rise with legal acceptance of prostitution leading to more trafficking and child prostitution. Also the attitudes towards women that it engenders undermines the ability of women to achieve respect and equality in a broader sense.
Each argument can be supported or undermined by outcomes where decriminalization or legalization have occurred. Decriminalization means no red light districts or forced health checks. Legalization means the government controls red light districts, can require registration and health checks.
The Charter challenge is going for full decriminalization, not legalization.
Those opposed want partial decriminalization. Prostitutes and sex workers would never be arrested.
New Zealand is held up as the ideal model for full decriminalization. Sweden is held up as the ideal model for partial decriminalization. There are many other countries with varied forms of legalization. Each of the examples has to be viewed in the context that Canada is a different country therefore outcomes won't necessarily be exactly the same here.
New Zealand is right next to Australia where prostitution is legalized. Canada shares a border with the United States. Sweden believes strongly in affirmative action for women. It is their contention that left to the marketplace it would take another 100 years for women to achieve equality. Canada is less willing to actively pursue equality for women leaving it up to the individual.
Australia, Germany, and others went with legalization which the sex workers in Canada don't want so they consider the experiences of those countries inapplicable. Given that there is only one example of decriminalization, which isn't that different from legalization, I don't Opponents think the experiences of these other countries can't be so easily dismissed especially as Canada might choose legalization rather than decriminalization. Therefore it is valid to examine information from these countries too.