Religious groups seek standing to oppose full decriminalization of prostitution

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Religious groups seek standing to oppose full decriminalization of prostitution


The challenge was launched by three activists connected to the sex trade – Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott. They are seeking to strike down laws that prevent communicating for the purposes of prostitution, living off the avails of prostitution and keeping a common bawdy house.

Their lawyer, Alan Young, a law professor at York University's Osgoode Hall Law School, contends that the three laws are incompatible with the fact that prostitution is legal in Canada. [...]

“If this forum is to be the way that laws live and die in our society ... the courts should welcome intervention of groups who represent a broad number of Canadians and can give assistance to the court,” said Mr. Agarwal, a lawyer for REAL Women of Canada, the Catholic Civil Rights League and Christian Legal Fellowship. [...]

“What these three groups want is a freestanding airing of their grievance that drugs, homosexual bathhouses and prostitution are spoiling the fabric of Canadian society,” Prof. Young said. [...]

[b]Lawyers for the federal Justice Department support the groups' application for intervenor status.[/b]


remind remind's picture

Funny, I think they, the REAL Women of Canada, the Catholic Civil Rights League and Christian Legal Fellowship are spoiling the fabric of Canadian society.


bathhouse!?Embarassed Me want.!

martin dufresne

There are actually a number of groups, including feminist organizations of former prostitutes critical of integral decriminalization, that have sought standing in this challenge.

It is interesting to see the Globe & Mail feature marginal RW groups in order to discredit legitimate, streetwise opponents of this attempt by the industry to give free rein to pimps, johns and brothel-owners. And to see Professor Alan Young be allowed to parody these organizations' position: "What these three groups want is a freestanding airing of their grievance that drugs, homosexual bathhouses and prostitution are spoiling the fabric of Canadian society," Prof. Young said.

Dirty pool... but par for the course from patriarchal media, I guess.


It should be noted then that prosecutors have in the past attempted to use the laws against prostitution against bathhouse and swingers' club owners on the premise that selling a place to have sex was much the same as selling sex itself. This was eventually stopped by a Supreme Court decision but an improperly-written new law on the subject could perhaps allow that again if we're not careful.

susan davis susan davis's picture

 my name is susan davis and i am a sex worker and testified in the charter challenge currently underway in Canada. we are hoping to establish and ethical and transparent system of self governance for the sex industry;
Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission
During the "Developing Capacity for Change Project" -Coop development work shops, workers expressed how a trade association and a branding or certification process could support safer work conditions over all and stabilize the existing safer indoor venues that exist now. The development of occupational health and safety training was also seen as a way to give people entering and in the sex industry the tools to make safe decisions about their work. It was agreed that all stake holders including business owners and consumers should be engaged to contribute to the design of the future of our industry.
Currently a charter challenge is underway to bring down the laws governing sex work. This action will only be successful if as an industry we can prove our ability to self govern and police ourselves. In the next 10 years we must agree to respect each other and treat each other with dignity. This will be an enormous task but an absolutely necessary one none the less. If we cannot demonstrate the ways in which we have traditionally maintained the stability of our industry, the system at large will most likely impose whatever laws it sees fit and we as an industry will be faced with another disaster.
With this in mind, the BCCEW/C set out to engage sex industry workers in beginning the process and determining whether or not there is industry support for such an action and what the structure of such an organization might look like.
The following actions and recommendations emerged as common themes from dialogue with all stakeholders including consumers, business owners and workers.
"Establish a consortium of sex industry stakeholders to develop an Industry Association and negotiate where there are areas of commonality. ie. violence, consumer theft, health and safety, and industry stability."
"Develop Standardized Health and Safety Training for Sex Industry Workers and consumers in partnership with ALL stakeholders including business owners."
"Develop and implement a certification process in partnership with all stakeholders to stabilize and promote sex industry businesses (inclusive of independent workers as businesses). Design an industry association seal or brand to distinguish those businesses that support and have received certification for the negotiated health and safety standards and training."
"Design a complaints process and penalty system in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self governance and enforcement for the sex industry."
"Support the formation of craft unions or trade guilds for all aspects or jobs within the sex industry."
"Establish a system of communications between the sex industry and those agencies who have traditionally had the role of policing or monitoring the industry such as the police, license inspectors and social work/ support agencies to prevent misunderstandings about safety issues within the industry."
All over Canada, law enforcement seem to be stepping up attacks on our community. Raids in Halifax, Winnipeg, Grand Prairie, Ottawa and Vancouver have left the indoor escort and massage community shaken. 20 show lounges in Vancouver have closed since 1990 and neighbouring Coquitlam have just passed a by-law outlawing "sundry" or "undesirable" business including massage parlours and exotic show lounges.
We know historically how the elimination of employment choices and safe work environments has slowly but surely whittled away at the safety and stability of the sex industry and its workers. The lack of job opportunities caused by enforcement against us is forcing people to choose sex industry work outside of their comfort zone and contributing to increasing numbers of workers forced into the dangerous street level trade.
Recent raids also revealed another risk to our safety and I quote " It was like- bang crash- and I was on the ground...I looked up to see 5 guns pointed at my head, my husband also on the ground and my son....with a gun pointed at him". My friend expressed that she looked up at one young "rookie" officer and thought "this is the guy who is going to kill me..."
Police Services in Canada do not have a good record for showing restraint and our fear is a worker or business owner will be accidentally shot or killed during one of these enforcement actions. The emotional impacts of standard police procedures are immeasurable as well. Long terms effects of trauma on people are well documented and will no doubt play a role in the lives of affected business owners and workers.
In conversations with affected business owners and workers I described our industry association plans in an attempt to offer some hope. Many I spoke with were interested in I felt maybe we could push our plans forward just a little so workers and business owners in other parts of the country could begin to organize but with a unified thread/ set of goals/ vision.
 So to begin BCCEC members decided to draft Terms of reference for a national industry association and present them to the sex industry community for scrutiny, concerns and editing.  
700 people reviewed and contributed the terms of reference and BCCEC members have formalized what will be known for now as the Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission or CAEC.
It has been acknowledged these "Temporary/ Draft Terms of Reference" are an emergency measure intended to support workers and businesses who are under scrutiny and that and a far more detailed description of governance and conflict resolution will be necessary to attain our goal of self governance for the sex industry.
Terms of Reference for Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission
Draft 2009
Sex Industry Stakeholder- A person who has experience working within, providing services to, running a business in, or purchasing services/products from the sex industry.
These Terms of Reference were created to ensure localized organizing in various constituencies across Canada have a common set of goals and processes.
Vision/ Goals:

  • To come together as an industry for the purpose of increased safety and stability for all stakeholders in the sex industry inclusive of workers, support workers, business owners, and consumers.
  • To empower and unify sex industry communities inclusive of all genres and genders to increase the security and stability of the sex industry.
  • To build community relationships, forge partnerships, identify and engage allies, and work with external expertise in pursuit of CAEC goals.
  • To create a community where all sex industry stakeholders are respected and honoured for their experiences. 
  • To improve the occupational health, safety, and capacities of sex industry professionals as employees and contractors within a legitimized profession.
  • To ensure consumers have access to resources, safely engage in sex industry consumption, can maintain discretion, are treated fairly, and have clear choices for ethical purchasing.
  • To protect ethical business owners from arbitrary attacks upon their honour, reputation, and livelihood by law enforcement, former employees, and the system at large.
  • To design a process in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self-governance for the sex industry.
  • To support the formation of craft unions, business improvement associations, consumer groups, and trade guilds, for businesses, consumers, and workers within the sex industry.

Guiding principles

  • Work towards safety and respect for all sex industry stakeholders regardless of their location within the industry;
  • Ensure the inclusion of diverse communities, perspectives, capacities and expertise from the sex industry;
  • Promote progressive thought, forward thinking, and continual positive exchange for the empowerment and education of sex industry stakeholders and the community at large;
  • Keep harm reduction frameworks at the forefront and work toward social justice and social change to increase quality of life for sex industry stakeholders.


  • Members must be active or former sex industry stakeholders, inclusive of but not limited to; street level, bath houses, massage parlours, ads/ internet, dancers, adult film, off street, phone sex, web cam, customers, support staff and business owners.
  • Organizations who provide services for, are run by, or have a vested interest in the sex industry may become members and represent a community of sex workers. The number of members an organization represents will be accepted by CAEC as true and each individual member of that local will have a vote.
  • Members of an organization or local that is a CEAC member will also be expected to sign on to these terms of reference.
  • Locals or organizations who are members of CAEC may define their own membership criteria but only individual members who have signed and accepted CEAC terms of reference may be included/ represented as voting members. Non sex industry stakeholders may NOT join or vote within CAEC
  • Must be 19 years or over;
  • Vouched for by another stakeholder;
  • Members may use a pseudonym or working name on applications.


  • Events that happen at meetings stay at meetings.
  • Project membership and personal information, identities of members, and their contact information must remain confidential.
  • Industry association locals will hold personal information about members with the national body knowing only the number of members per local.
  • The Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission (and its member groups/ locals) will hold this information in the strictest of confidentiality. No one shall be allowed access to this information unless they can prove a risk to the life or safety of a person. Each local will decide on a case-by-case basis if such a threat exists and if a person may be granted limited access to this information.
  • Intellectual property and details about projects, strategies and plans are not to be shared with outside entities or individuals except when in the form of a communication strategy that has been designed and approved by the members of CAEC.
  • Confidentiality extends even after leaving CAEC and must respect the sex industry stakeholders' rights of movement and the anonymity of those involved.
  • Breach of confidentiality will lead to the immediate revocation of membership from CAEC.
  • All existing and new members must sign a confidentiality agreement and sign on to the most current Terms of Reference.


please support transparency and accoutability in the sex industry!!


feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns

remind remind's picture

Thank you for posting all of this.


I have noticed that there are certain types of conservative religious people who are always in a moral panic about sex but are apathetic or even hostile to concerns about economic injustice or environmentalism. For prostitution I am in favour of harm reduction to create a safer, healthier situation for the sex workers.

Susan Davis's plan for self-governance seems to be well thought out and I hope you are able to accomplish your goals, Susan.


martin dufresne

In my opinion, talking about self-governance when the "Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission"'s definition of "stakeholder" includes business owners and customers, along with the people they prostitute, turns that honourable notion into a travesty of itself.


remind remind's picture

 martin, the use of the term "stakeholder"  does mean all people involved, or impacted by/with any such activity under discussion/action.

Having said that, I too see issues with the composition of such an organization,  it would not be a "worker" co-operative given the cohersive nature, and controlling interests, contained within certain elemments of the industry.

And I also have problems with the statement that things happening within the meeting must stay within the meetings.

That is absolute nonsense and delegitimizes the whole thing. In fact, it basically gives notice that abuse/exploitation can and will occur, and there can be no recourse,  or you do not belong to said "co-op" or "organization" and thus will not be able to practise your trade.

I was glad that Susan detailed  all of this, as it gives great insight as to the powers at play withinh this activity, behind the scenes. And IMV there should be concern.


susan davis susan davis's picture

so now you are defaming my character? i speak for and represent orgainzed crime?nice.....

well, i guess now i will have to explain a little about me so people can judge for themselves if i am the"chick in front";
graduated high school 1986,
finished royal conservatory of toronto grade 9 piano and went on to compete in kiwanis festivals,
i went to university in the summer for music learning french horn and flute,
my parents are both acedemics and wonderful people
i am a member of;
BC Coalition of Experiential Communities (BCCEC)
Mandate: The B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities works to inspire experiential leadership toward the elimination of oppressive systems and forces that create harm within the sex industry. 
Our Mission
The BCCEC is a mechanism for the voices of experiential individuals to:

  • § influence legislation and policies that pertain to sex workers to become inclusive of their goals and desires;
  • § advocate for a continuum of peer driven programs, initiatives and services.

The BCCEC may also serve as a:
            -consultative body of expertise on sex work issues;
            -Host organization for sex worker workshops, events and initiatives; and
            -Research and data collection body.
Philosophy and Guiding Principles

  • § Supports and promotes experiential leadership;
  • § Supports development of essential services and a continuum of services for active sex workers through class advocacy, media response and public awareness;
  • § Creates a supportive network for sex worker activists to have opportunities for leadership and action on issues that impact their lives and the well being of their communities;
  • § Works to ensure the fundamental recognition of human rights for sex workers including dignity, safety, equality, and empowerment;

Guiding Principles
The following Guiding Principles reflect the collective and longstanding activism of BCCEC members who have worked and will continue to work to eradicate racism, poverty, sexism, and violence by every practical means possible. BCCEC principles are built on our experiential analysis of sex work issues and are intended to advance dialogue and activism within the coalition and within our communities.

  • We value, embrace and mobilize the authentic experiential knowledge, leadership and skill sets of women in the sex trade as the vehicle towards change;
  • We work to ensure opportunities for self-advocacy among people in and from the sex trade;
  • We work to open dialogue for the reduction of harm and the elimination of the social, economic, and political conditions that lead to the survival sex trade, sexual slavery and trafficking in persons;
  • We provide access to our expertise and our published materials to stakeholders in the BC/Yukon region and beyond!


i am on many committees;

  • Living In Community- Living in Community is a two-year city-wide project whose goal is to develop an integrated approach in relation to the impacts of sex work on neighborhoods throughout Vancouver. The project aims to increase the health and safety of all community members, including sex workers, residents and business owners and operators. Living in Community is a collaboration of community, business and government organizations, including sex worker organizations, neighborhood houses, youth and Aboriginal organizations, community policing centers, business improvement associations, the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Police Department, Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and the Vancouver Agreement.


  • Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group


The SIWSAG was created in 2007 to bring together local police, sex industry workers, representatives from service-provision agencies and other community stakeholders to address the increasingly dangerous and negative conditions relating to the safety and security of sex industry workers in Vancouver. Many sex industry workers face high levels of victimization and the marginalization experienced by street-based workers serves only to exasperate the situation. In order to improve the safety of this vulnerable segment of our society, along with improving the relationships between the VPD and SIW and SIW service providers, the action group has formed to undertake collaborative work in the following key areas:


  • Increasing and improving incident reporting
  • Identifying predatory offenders
  • Self-defense and violence prevention training
  • Improvement of communication between sex industry workers and the police
  • Creating professional development materials for sex industry workers and new recruits to the VPD
  • Facilitating greater success in the prosecution of those who commit violence against sex industry workers
  • Improving direct outreach to the sex industry


This unique, one of a kind project has the potential to significantly impact relations between police and sex industry workers, while at the same time addressing and increasing the safety and security of those who participate in this industry.


we have worked on all kinds of projects in vancouver;


The "Red Light Alert" is a document created as a result of the "Confronting Bad Dates" project. The document describes potentially violent sex consumers and their modus operandi in an attempt to give sex workers working in the street level trade the tools to recognize dangerous situations. This document was formerly known as the "Bad Date Sheet".


The "Red Light Alert" is widely distributed through many organizations in Vancouver's Downtown East Side such as;

  • WISH Drop-in Centre Society
  • PACE Society
  • PEER Society
  • MAP Van
  • Downtown East Side Women's Center
  • Carnegie Public Library


Although not widely distributes, the "411" document created with support from Victim Services was shared with 150 Specialized Victim Services Workers at their annual conference where members of the BCCEC made a presentation on the findings of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder training sessions.

Members of the BCCEC have also presented on issues around the sex industry and providing services for sex workers to various groups such as;

  • Canadian Public Service Employees Alliance
  • Canadian Cooperatives Association
  • BC Government Employees Union
  • Canadian Sociologists Association
  • Vancouver Police new recruits
  • Canadian Border Services leadership training
  • Department of National Defense leadership training


Members of the BCCEC have lectured in an effort to raise awareness about issues and barriers facing sex industry workers at many local colleges and universities such as;



 i personally have trained 200 new recruits for VPD as well as members of the RCMP, border services, ....need i go on?


clearly if these departments groups and people see us as credible, maybe we are......


pretty low martin, trying to undermine my honor and violated my human rights....

martin dufresne

"we have tried martins way for a 100 years..."

Not so. What susan calls "martin's way" is simply full decriminalization for sex workers, a solution that feminists have been struggling for both in Canada and elsewhere. That has never been implemented in Canada so far. And now that it is coming, because it is proving itself in Nordic countries, the industry is trying to coopt that dynamic by attempting to include pimps, johns and procurers in an "inclusive" all-or-nothing offer. To me, it looks a lot like the infamous old "Chicks Up Front" strategy that was used by some Leftists against cops in demonstrations forty years ago before women decided to stand up for their own interests.


martin dufresne

No, I don't think I impugned you in any way. I clearly spoke of the industry and described a pattern that is ongoing throughout the world.


susan davis susan davis's picture

another article from the charter;

Article 23

  1. everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorible conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
  2. everyone, without discrimination has the right to equal pay for equal work.
  3. everyone who works is entitled to just and favorible renumeration ensuring for himself and his family an existance worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection
  4. everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
susan davis susan davis's picture

you were talking about my proposed plans and me personally as the "chick out front".way to attack my credibility, love it.


our plns were designed in partnership with sex industry workers who all agreed to include all stake holders


.also, they do not have decrim in the nordic countries, the criminalize the consumers model is a disater for workers there...we are in contact with workers there on an on going basis

susan davis susan davis's picture

the coop and the CAEC are 2 different things- we have a 2 tiered plan for industry stability- localized coop development and national stabilization through development of an industry association.

the cooperative organizing we are doing is sex workers only.
in order to have accountability amongst business owners we must include them in our industry association development and design otherwise how will we self govern? protecting ethical business owners and weeding out bad ones is key to industry stability. what is the point of a union if there is no where to work?
also, educating consumers is a huge piece, we must give them tools to purchase ethically and ways to report trafficking and abuse in a way that protects confidentiality- consumers could be our biggest resource in combatting trafficking....
confidentiality and terms related to meetings/ privacy/protection of intellectual protery are in line with tri council policies in research ethics as far as working with criminalized or marginalized populations. we are trying to create a safe environment where sex industry community members will feel safe taking part and not have to risk harm by takng part. ted palys and john lowman taught us about policy developement and many organization in vancouver have adotpted similar approaches to protecting sex industry stakeholders confidentiality.
people do not have to join and our coop is a member of CAEC.
it will not be carte blanche for abuse....that's what we have now.... we need to protect longstanding business owners and find a way to police our industry without the harms caused by enforcement on the past.
as it says, we acknowledge much more work will have to been done in order to design complaints processes, code of conduct( condom use, no trafficking, no youth)
it never ceases to amaze me how people assume all business owners and consumers are bad. they aren't, closing safe work environments is killing us. one person or group will not be in charge, all will have a say...people always try to undermine our efforts by saying "there may be abuse!"..."what about youth?" no one is saying there isn't a hell of alot of work to do but we must start some where.....
a better explaination of our recommendations and plans is listed under my hate crimes against sex worker post.
exclusion of stakeholders has caused wide spread harm in the past. we must be inclusive in order to achieve a balanced approach and prevent further harm being caused to my community.
we have tried martins way for a 100years.... look where that is getting us....criminalizing any aspect of adult consentual sex work including our customers and the people who run businesses where we work
will only complicate the situation and lead to more deaths.
yes, this will take alot of work to ensure all sides ( including martin and company) are comfortable with the outcome, but we must realize this goal no matter how long it takes, we must negotiate every little piece
you both raise common concerns and i hope you believe me when i say, we will adress all concerns and work to fill all gaps.the above terms are merely a beginning...


Thank you for posting all of this info susan, on all the hard work you are doing. Hopefully this challenge succeeds and ends the ridiculous legal situation now in place. 

martin, I have to say I cannot comprehend your position. Don't you think that full decriminalization will allow for much greater protection of women and men who work in this area? It will also greatly assist in stopping activity that will and should remain illegal with stiff penalties (trafficking of underage boys and girls etc. ). It will also allow these workers the protection of contract law. Under current precedent, even though prostitution is technically legal, courts will no enforce anything as the work is deemed "immoral". Total BS. Consensual adults should be free to act, work and contract as they see fit. Anything involving people who aren't yet adults, or non-conensual activity should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

martin dufresne

Ghislaine wrote:

Don't you think that full decriminalization will allow for much greater protection of women and men who work in this area?

No, I don't. Allowing pimps, traffickers and brothel-owners free rein only trivializes and endorses the exploitation of prostituted people. There will be more prostitution, i.e. more privlege for some and exploitation for others. The experience of the countries where prostitution has been facilitated in socially-controlled venues show a proliferation of prostitution in parallel, uncontrolled venues where women's and girls' conditions are even worse. I can't go into detail but I recommend reading Not for Sale (Spinifex Press), or The Johns, (Key Porter Books).

...It will also greatly assist in stopping activity that will and should remain illegal with stiff penalties (trafficking of underage boys and girls etc.).

I disagree with this rosy prediction: check out what is going on in the Netherlands and Australia, for instance. And BTW, are you OK with the trafficking for sexual purposes of anyone who isn't a minor?

...It will also allow these workers the protection of contract law. Under current precedent, even though prostitution is technically legal, courts will no enforce anything as the work is deemed "immoral". Total BS. Consensual adults should be free to act, work and contract as they see fit.

I don't share this ultra-liberal position and neither does our society. It has made the choice to limit exploitative activity where substantive harm is acknowledged - a characteristic of prostituting people, or buying children or organs, etc. Which is why we go on deeming illegal traffickers, pimps, procurers and johns' soliciting activities.

Anything involving people who aren't yet adults, or non-conensual activity should be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Again, there is a mounting body of evidence showing that child prostitution thrives where the activities of pimps, traffickers and johns are facilitated. The cops just give up, feeling that society has given a green light to the trade and they defer to the "self-governance" touted above. As for "consensual", well even the current promoters of brothels and prostitution acknowledge that it's mainly survival sex extracted from impoverished or strung-out women that allows men to get their rocks off at will. Do we want to institutionalize that? I don't.


susan davis susan davis's picture

martin dufresne wrote:

Again, there is a mounting body of evidence showing that child prostitution thrives where the activities of pimps, traffickers and johns are facilitated. The cops just give up, feeling that society has given a green light to the trade and they defer to the "self-governance" touted above. As for "consensual", well even the current promoters of brothels and prostitution acknowledge that it's mainly survival sex extracted from impoverished or strung-out women that allows men to get their rocks off at will. Do we want to institutionalize that? I don't.

i never said we are all on drugs.....?i said that that survival or street level sex work only comprises 10 to 15% of our industry.....
if you are going to refer to evidence please post a link, i  have never heard of any such research and in fact in new zealand none of the things you fear will happen did happen'
what part of must be 19 are we missing?you just can't believe anyone in my community could be ethical can you?it just further demonstrates your deep seeded hatred of sex workers and the sex industry. you are so blind you can't see the truth....ever decreasing numbers of jobs in safer indoor environments as a result of enforcement actions forced by abolitionist pressure is causing workers to be forced into the dangerous street level trade, can't you see that transparency would adress all the concerns you mentioned?


i will provide a link to my evidence




The Operation of "Prostitution Reform Act 2003 (PRA)" --- A Report from the

Prostitution Law Review Committee



The "Prostitution Law Reform Act 2003 (PRA)" was operationalised since 28 June

2003 in New Zealand. According to the law, a track report is required after 3 to 5

years of the operationalisation in order to study the change in population of sex

workers in the state and the operation of the sex industry. The first report was written

by the Prostitution Law Review Committee and presented to the Congress in April

2005. The first report was adopted as the standard for comparison of the second


The original intention of the PRA were to decriminalize sex work, promote

occupational safety and health of sex workers which is favourable to the public health

within the framework of human rights and personal safety, and prohibit underage sex

work. A brothel-registration system was also set up by the PRA in order to manage

the operation of the industry in a more systematic manner.

Estimation of the population of sex workers in New Zealand

In the Committee's first report, "The Nature and Extent of the Sex Industry in New

Zealand: An Estimation 2005", it was estimated that there were 5,932 sex workers in

New Zealand at the time of decriminalisation. The current report estimates the number

of sex workers to be 2,332. The committee disagrees that the number of sex workers

has increased by 3600 just within 5 years. The committee interprets that this

discrepancy is caused by the different standard of statistical methods and analysis in

calculating the population.

In this report, sex workers are divided into three categories, namely

"one-woman-apartment worker", "street sex worker", and "sex workers employed by

brothels". The investigation was carried out in 5 core areas of New Zealand, and the

total number of sex workers discovered was 2332. Among these areas, the numbers of

sex workers in Christchurch in 1999 and 2006 were very similar. The calculation of

the number of sex workers is hardly accurate because of the high geographical

mobility of the industry. However, the committee believes that decriminalising sex

work does not bring a great influence to the number of sex workers in the state.

Human rights of sex workers

The second intention of PRA was to prohibit underage sex work (below 18 years of

age) and to avoid adult sex workers being forced to provide services and their rights

being exploited.

In the report, when investigating whether PRA was effective in promoting security of

the right to work, more than 90% of respondent (sex workers) said that PRA had

consolidated their legal rights. More than 60% responded that they could refuse their

customers. It is apparent that PRA was able to protect sex workers and had

empowered them to refuse their customers when they encountered illegal trade,

violence and exploitation.

Sexual health

The report reveals that the condom use rate is very high. However, some sex workers

deny the relationship between the legislative work of PRA and the use of condom

because they have been concerning the transmission of HIV and STI since the 80s.

Entering and exiting the sex industry

According to the report, about 93% of sex workers enter the industry for money. And

the most common reason for exiting the industry, certainly, is having other ways to

earn money. Besides, there is a high difficulty for the sex workers to leave this

industry and failure after numerous attempts is not uncommon. However, the report

has also pointed out that not all sex workers want to leave the industry and some of

the sex workers expressed that they were working very happily. Like all other

industries, there are many reasons for entering and exiting the industry and there can

hardly be a general summary. Among the 3 categories of sex workers, only 3.9% of

sex workers were forced to enter the industry in the beginning.

There are a few main reasons for staying in the industry, including the fear of losing

the income, the preference for the flexibility of work, and the reluctance to lose the

friendship and sense of belonging among the sex workers.

The Brothel Operator Certification System

In New Zealand, registration is not required for Small Owner-Operated Brothels

(SOOB), which refers to brothels with 4 sex workers or less. This is because the sex

workers in SOOB work independently and there are no managerial issues. Street sex

workers are also not required to register.

The operator of a brothel is required to be a permanent resident of New Zealand or

Australia and has to be over 18 years old. An application form and HKD$1216 ($205

Australian Dollars) are required for an application. Applicants with record of criminal

offense would be denied. The license will remain valid for 1 year, and a renewal is

required every year.

This registration system will continue and the Department of Labour will be

responsible for patrolling in the brothels in order to avoid exploitation of the


Underage sex work

PRA stated that arranging and managing people under 18 years old to perform sex

work will be prosecuted. The highest sentence is 7-year imprisonment. However,

underage people providing commercial sex service is not illegal. This report reveals

that under age se workers made up 1.3% of the total number of sex workers surveyed.

It is concerned that 17 year olds 'fall between the cracks' in terms of government

support, being too old to be eligible for assistance from Child Youth and Family

Services, and too young to be eligible for income support. The committee suggests

that the government should subsidize the development of the services in order to

prevent underage sex work.

Street sex workers

The number of street sex worker has no obvious change after the establishment of

PRA. According to the statistics in 2006, the number of street sex workers shares 11%

of the total number of workers in the sex industry, which is the smallest in proportion.

But this form of sex work is relatively attractive for young people to enter the industry.

However, the dangers faced by street sex workers are bigger, and therefore the

committee encourages them to shift into indoor area to work.

The management of local government

The committee discovered that the local government of some areas requested small

brothels (such as Small Owner-Operated Brothels) to move, merge with other small

brothels and form some bigger brothels. This is because small brothels are more likely

to be robbed and has no effective security measures. But the committee thinks that

small brothels should be treated in the same way as other small enterprises in the state

and should receive no "special treatment".

Decriminalization helps to solve the problem of manipulation

The New Zealand government adopts practical management measures to manage the

sex work industry. It respects and admits sex worker as an occupation. The gist of

decriminalizing sex work is to provide sex workers a working environment which is

safe, healthy and with respect for human rights. The report points out that sex work

has no direct correlation with human trafficking. And the aim of the ordinances is to

prohibit underage and involuntary sex work.

In Hong Kong, the discussion of sex work has been about moral issues, manipulation

of triad organizations and underage female sex workers etc. Referring to the case of

New Zealand, drilling on the moral level gives no contribution to solving problems

like exploitation and discrimination against sex workers. Concerning the manipulation

of sex work of triad organizations, as well as the problem of human trafficking ,

decriminalization of sex work, rather than police's raid, is in fact more effective in

solving the problem.

Hong Kong government should immediately launch a study on decriminalizing sex

work, so as to protect sex worker's personal safety and prevent them from further

exploitation from a more practical approach.


Yay Susan!

Martin, go away.


remind remind's picture

Wow, that is great using a NZ model where:

underage people providing commercial sex service is not illegal.

and where only 4% were forced into the sex trade and how much the Triad was involved in it all.

I guess you did not really read what was being said jrootham.

susan davis susan davis's picture

i read it, it says with decrim now they can see exploititive activity, clearly and target bad people while protecting safe work places. we all know bad things go on,

i also agree no youth involvement or foced sex work, but are we willing to continue to jeorardize 96% to protect 4%? or are we going to try something

new that could actually mean we could identify and rescue for the 4%?


underage sex is not provided for in te new zealand criminal code, exploitation of youth however is. why do we need 2 sets of laws for exploited youth?

are youth exploited through sex work any different those exploited for labour? this kind of othering is the reason we are seen as dirty disposable etc.

one set of exploitation laws, for all youth and one set of trafficking laws for all trafficked people not just those in the sex industry.


remind, i want to just repeat that as we work through our plans we will be employing an all stakeholders approach and will openly negotiate all questions and concerns

with members of mainstream society as stake holders. we want the greater community to understand that we know we will face challenges and we want to work through

them, it doesn't have to be new zealand or could be canada. the point is nothing is written in stone, our ideas are just beginning to emerge and we will revise and revise and revise until all sides are satisfied...which may never happen! it can be a living and changing document, revising to fill gaps as we find them, know what i mean? with input from all sides.

remind remind's picture

How can you openly negotiate when you have secrecy policies? Policies which mean criminal orgs like the Triad can operate in secret?

martin dufresne

Our country already has an "all stakeholders approach": it's called Parliament and the legislative process. It does not rely on unverifiable hearsay from unnamed, unaccountable parties  in another country. It doesn't require unnamed "business owners" to be satisfied with "solutions" achieved in self-governance, a cute buzzword word for privatization. When an issue is important enough - and the harm in prostitution certainly is -, an open, transparent process is set up, and anyone can come forward to a committee hearing - including prostitution advocates - and put his or her experiences and arguments on record, as did the front-line workers who support prostituted women and youths and dispute the reassuring discourse put out by the industry. Then legislation is proposed (or not), and representatives vote.

Some of the witnesses heard by such committees represent whole communities directly affected, not just business or individual interests: Native women, young women at risk, drug-addicted people, rape crisis centre volunteers, front-line organizations supporting prostituted women in a specific city. A few years ago, front-line folks testified about the reality of prostitution - not what Victor Malarek calls the "happy hookers" pipe dream - at the Justice Standing Committee Sub-Committee on Solicitation Laws. I urge folks to read up on what people like Beverly Jacobs, Suzanne Jay, Rose Dufour, Janice Raymond, Melissa Farley* and many others had to say then, about the true extent of "survival sex", for instance, and the need to maintain legal pressure on pimps, johns and traffickers who profit from it.

*Melissa Farley at the Sub-Committee: "The rates of post-traumatic stress disorder - PTSD or combat trauma - are among the highest of any group of people ever studied. We interviewed more than 850 people in prostitution in nine countries, including Canada, and found that PTSD among women in prostitution is comparable to that of battered women, rape survivors, and war combat veterans. Women in prostitution suffer extremely high rates of depression, substance abuse, dissociation, head injury, and suicide attempts.(...) A coffee and a chat and a condom are not what women in prostitution need, or a union. Of the women we interviewed in Canada, 95% said they wanted to escape prostitution, and they even told us what they needed. They need stable housing. They want to escape prostitution. They didn't say they wanted to escape illegal or outdoor prostitution; they said they wanted to escape all prostitution. And they said they wanted drug and alcohol addiction treatment, and they wanted job training, and counselling.(...)"

susan davis susan davis's picture

also, we are engaging in the pariamentry process martin...isn't that what this thread is about? we have a chartered right to take part and be represented in government, do you think we are? represented in government i mean....


i testfied in the charter challenge and to the parliamentry sub negleted to mention how the sub committee recognized sex work as a necessary service for those people who cannot find a partner, whose partner has died and for those who are where does the parapelegic come into your all customers are rapists, perverts and petifiles? the report also acknowledges the huge differences in levels of violence experienced by indoor workers as compared to the dangerous street level trade....supporting our call for industry stability and safer indoor work environments for all

susan davis susan davis's picture

as far as melissa farely goes, i posted this on her facebook groups page and have yet to receive any comment from her or rape relief....i believe i asked you the same thing martin....


also, the research sample population is made up by mostly those attempting access resources after an assault so of course the results are skewed. miss farely does not recognize sex work as a choice and so ignores workers who do not wish to exit and as you, claim we are mentally and emotionally damaged and so do not know what we want or need as a community....

 i wrote the following;

anti trafficking campaings by rape relief and miss farley in vancouver made the police raid AMPS, where VPD entered guns drawn everyone on the floor... scaring the workers to death ( is this how we treat victims of trafficking?)and took no supports or interpreters for the victims of trafficking many of whom spoke very little english and then when it was discovered the workers weren't trafficked.....they were deported.

so now, they won't call police when they are robbed or assaulted because police intimidate them and they don't want to be deported.

we knew it would cause harm but we had no idea how bad it would get....

first the asian sex worker killed in burnaby. then tony(security guy) killed in yaletown defending the lives of 2 women during a robbery, now an asian massage parlour worker was found dead in the truck of her car? i wonder how rape relief and miss farely feel about all the harm they've caused with their anti trafficking campaign and subsequent raids/ deportations and lack of trust for police generated amongst these workers...

also, it seems like even more workers are migrating here as a result of anti trafficking campaign claims of "big money" for the sex industry during the games (which has been proven untrue-it will be a bit of an economic crash -if you want the report message me or go to PIVOT we site)

it's seems they are causing the very thing they tried to prevent......

they lobbied vancouver and BC governments and police to enforce bawdy house laws to "save" the victims of trafficking with no consideration for the safety or stability of adult consentual sex workers ....and look at the outcome....

i just wonder if they have any conscience at all about all the sex workers they have harmed.......

i am not victim!!!!i am strong and chose sex work....i am not on drugs or sexually abused ....i come from a good familyand my parents are good people.

Attacks on sex workers in particular female sex workers by other women result in great pain and in some cases death for the workers affected. In the past women went as far as to create an ad campaign depicting sex workers as evil and as the vectors of disease. I have even seen a poster depicting hitler, the emperor of japan and a sex worker all arm in arm and the caption reads "the worst of the three".Their campaign of speeches, posters and radio spots was so broad and far reaching that this stigma exists to this day.

We can see in the high numbers of women reportedly attacking sex industry community members and in the way feminist abolitionist groups still promote sex industry workers as victims, helpless, easy targets, on drugs and unable to defend or look after our selves.

This latest campaign of hatred has gone on for 100 years some of us refer to it as the prohibition war. Since the beginning of this war human rights have come to the fore front and now the sex industry community is seeking recognition as a distinct culture deserving of protection under the charter. We hope to end the campaign to "end sex work" and have our rights to choose employment, be protected from hate propaganda against us, and to be protected from discrimination based on who we are.

abolitionists promote hatred of sex workers and cause wide spread harm with their arogance....attacking me personally when i try to speak publically and sending uniformed children to disrupt events that could impact our safety and create change.

i challenge miss farely to justify her trip to vancouver, the subsequent raids and the harms/deaths it has caused.

martin dufresne


martin dufresne

"...abolitionists promote hatred of sex workers..."

"...anti trafficking campaings by rape relief and miss farley in vancouver made the police raid AMPS..."


I hear you repeating this slander of feminists to make more of an impression, but these charges remain unsubstantiated. Feminists critical of prostitution have nothing like the power you claim they do. They did not write Canada's legislation against trafficking, indeed, they are trying to reform it. And they are fighting the selective criminalization of prostituted people, while "business owners" remain unaccountable and indeed licensed to go on exploitng them.


susan davis susan davis's picture

i can't argue about the bad business owners thing but i can argue about police reaction to pressure from miss farely and rape relief....i won't bother as i have aleady tried to explain...


i agree that there is no accountability for bad business owners, but that is what we are trying to address with our plans....


can you not think of an instance where a business owners could be considered ethical? my friend who was a worker then became a madame in her later years comes to my mind. we are a spoken word culture. as a result of criminalization writing down work safe tips is actually illegal, it is considered aiding and abbetting? (spelling?) traditionally an older worker moves into the position of madame in order to share her knowledge with new workers and knowledge is passed generation to generation. my friend is 68 and must rely on a scooter for mobility ( bad hips-wear and tear injury) , is diabetic (bad hours-bad diet) and must use an oxegen mask. in 17 years running an escort service with incall( a brothel) she has never had a violent incident or lost a worker. she was a worker herself raising 2 sons for 20+ years before opening shop as we say. i never worked for her but whenever i go home i go and hang out at the brothel. at xmas, everyone wrapping presents for their families together, drinking eggnogg, laughing....a community, a family. i love it.


by blanketing all business owners as pimps we are not helping anyone, we must be able to distinguish the good from the bad.


our plans ARE sorely lacking in this regard,how can we protect safe spaces and root out traffickers, pimps,etc.?


my friend has given all of the young women who worked with her tools to make safe decisions, a supportive and safe work environment and access to her 37 years of knowledge and experience. she is no pimp, she is a lady, a courtesan. to lump her in as a criminal and possibily loose her voice and knowledge/experience would be a tragedy for sex workers out east.


please, i really am at a loss about how to begin certification of business owners or how to begin to design a complaints process. it strikes me martin that you could be very helpful in this regard. because your concerns are legitimate, although we disagree on what research to believe, perhaps there is a way to meet both sides perspectives.


would you be willing to work on the terms with us? as a sex industry stake holder representing the mainstream community? i would welcome any input as to revisions or additions to the proposed terms and feel it must reflect everyone's views, including abolition i guess. we are all entitled to our opinion but surely we can find some common ground in health and safety and move forward some how.

susan davis susan davis's picture

as far as confidentiality goes, we follow tricouncil policies and guidelines in this regard, although tri council policies are intended for research on human subjects, we also feel the spirit of the policies address needs specific to sex industry organizing. we will have to define limitations of confidentiality as well as grounds for access to members personal information.all business owners must be legit, supplying the accepted occupational health and safety training to employees as well as be above board with business licensing triad secret micro brothels allowed...e,ployees of said micro brothels could join and be part of for instance the massage parlour workers guild and lodge complaints about said triad brothel owner...if workers info is not confidential there is a risk of being blacklisted as a rat...


also, in the past people outside of the sex industry have stolen or "swooped" sex industry ideas, intellectual property etc. we are not saying confidentiality over complaints and protect business owners who are unethical, we are saying protect ideas and potential funding opportunities from outside groups or people claiming ownership...make sense?


in light of all this i am going to rework our terms a bit and then re post for people to express ideas or concerns. remind, do you have any suggestions as far as wording for a policy that would encompass your concerns?i will include a statement about trafficking, exploitation of youth and businesses being only admissable if legit, licnsed and above board....any input in this regard would be welcome...from martin there a couple of policies thaat would make it acceptable to you?


the following is a link and an exceprt from the tri council policy on confidentiality;


Dignity and autonomy of human subjects is the ethical basis of respect for the privacy of research subjects. Privacy is a fundamental value, perceived by many as essential for the protection and promotion of human dignity. Hence, the access, control and dissemination of personal information are essential to ethical research.

Information that is disclosed in the context of a professional or research relationship must be held confidential. Thus, when a research subject confides personal information to a researcher, the researcher has a duty not to share the information with others without the subject's free and informed consent. Breaches of confidentiality may cause harm: to the trust relationship between the researcher and the research subject; to other individuals or groups; and/or to the reputation of the research community. Confidentiality applies to information obtained directly from subjects or from other researchers or organizations that have a legal obligation to maintain personal records confidential. In this regard, a subject-centred perspective on the nature of the research, its aims and its potential to invade sensitive interests may help researchers better design and conduct research. A matter that is public in the researcher's culture may be private in a prospective subject's culture, for example.

There is a widespread agreement about the rights of prospective subjects to privacy and the corresponding duties of researchers to treat private information in a respectful and confidential manner. Indeed, the respect for privacy in research is an internationally recognized norm and ethical standard. It has been enshrined in Canadian law as a constitutional right and protected in both federal and provincial statutes. Model voluntary codes have also been adopted to govern access to, and the protection of, personal information.1

The values underlying the respect and protection of privacy and confidentiality are not absolute, however. Compelling and specifically identified public interests, for example, the protection of health, life and safety, may justify infringement of privacy and confidentiality. Laws compelling mandatory reporting of child abuse, sexually transmitted diseases or intent to murder are grounded on such reasoning; so too are laws and regulations that protect whistle-blowers. Similarly, without access to personal information, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to conduct important societal research in such fields as epidemiology, history, genetics and politics, which has led to major advances in knowledge and to an improved quality of life. The public interest thus may justify allowing researchers access to personal information, both to advance knowledge and to achieve social goals such as designing adequate public health programs.

Historically, the benefits of the confidential research use of personal data have been substantial. Two of many such examples are: the identification of the relationship between tobacco and lung cancer; and the use of employment or educational records to identify the benefits or harms of various social factors. In the last two decades, larger data bases and newer techniques have improved the capacity of researchers to evaluate the delivery of services and the outcomes of many procedures and products. These studies have contributed to more responsive and efficient service delivery in areas such as health, education, safety and the environment.

Ethics review is thus an important process for addressing this conflict of societal values. The REB plays an important role in balancing the need for research against infringements of privacy and minimizing any necessary invasions of privacy. Individuals should be protected from harm caused by unauthorized use of personal information in which they believed they had an expectation of privacy and the benefit of confidentiality.

The situation may arise where a third party attempts to gain access to research records, and hence to breach the promise of confidentiality given by the researcher as part of a research project approved by the REB. By that time, the matter has passed from the hands of the REB. The researcher is honour-bound to protect the confidentiality that was undertaken in the process of free and informed consent, to the extent possible within the law. The institution should normally support the researcher in this regard, in part because it needs to protect the integrity of its own REB. If the third party attempts to secure the research data by subpoena, it is legitimate for the researcher and the institution to argue the issue in court. The records of the REB and of the consent might be useful as part of this counter-argument, or may be requested by those seeking access. However, if the court issues a subpoena, legal appeals will probably be the only legal option open to the researcher to protect the confidentiality of the records.

In the process of free and informed consent, researchers should indicate to research subjects the extent of the confidentiality that can be promised, and hence should be aware of the relevant law.

The articles below articulate the general rule to protect privacy and confidentiality through notification and consent of the individuals whose personal information is involved. For the purposes of this Policy, identifiable personal information means information relating to a reasonably identifiable person who has a reasonable expectation of privacy. It includes information about personal characteristics such as culture, age, religion and social status, as well as their life experience and educational, medical or employment histories. However, Article 1.1(c) excludes from REB review research that is based exclusively on publicly available information. This includes documents, records, specimens or materials from public archives, published works and the like, to which the public is granted access.

As a general rule, the best protection of the confidentiality of personal information and records will be achieved through anonymity. If the data being stored are truly anonymous, the research project will need only minimal REB scrutiny.

martin dufresne

Thank you, but I don't consider myself a "sex industry stakeholder". The terms of the process you suggest seem to me to be biased from the start to the extent that they accept men's sexual statu quo, indeed want to extend it. As I wrote, I feel that it is instead a transparent, accountable, political process, based on the interest of all citizens, that should decide on how to deal with johns' escalating demand for sexual access to people, a demand itself driven by the sex industry (see this thread).



susan davis susan davis's picture

what if every province had an ethics review the fire arms and gaming commission...made up of police, government, review "in confidence" or confidentially all activites with in the region?


like the REB for researchers?


then it would be limited access to personal information and confidentiality could be maintained...perhaps we could ensure safety and no corruption like that...


any ideas?

susan davis susan davis's picture

so, i added this to the beginning right after stakeholders definition,

Sex Industry Stakeholder- A person who has experience either working within, providing services to, running a business in or purchasing services/products of the sex industry.
Regional Government Review Board- The sex industry is a matter of concern for all members of Canadian Society. To ensure transparency and accountability in the sex industry the CAEC propose the formation of a review committee to represent the interests of society at large. The CAEC feel that if representatives from criminal justice, health, government and a sex industry community member were to audit and monitor the activities of the CAEC, we will achieve transparency and accountability for/ within the sex industry.
and added this to vision and goals;

  • To ensure transparency and to prevent abuse of Industry Association benefits, CAEC members support the formation of a Regional Government Review Board to ensure ethical industry practices are upheld and the ideals of Canadian Society respected. All CAEC locals and members will allow free access to membership information and proposed activities by the Regional Government Review Board.


  • To abolish exploitation of youth or any person forced to engage in or trafficked into the sex industry.


and under confidentiality;



  • For the purposes of Regional Government Review Boards as described above, all information related to CAEC membership and proposed activities will be made available for scrutiny. Members of the Regional Government Review Board will be expected to maintain confidentiality of disclosed information unless it is found to affect the life, health or safety of a person.



The Ontario Court of Appeal has ruled that Ontario Superior Court was [b]wrong[/b] to deny standing to the three organizations (Christian Legal Fellowship, REAL Women of Canada and the Catholic Civil Rights League).


In a 3-0 ruling, the appeal court said that the groups have a legitimate contribution to make to an issue that has a clear moral dimension.

It ruled that Mr. Justice Ted Matlow of the Ontario Superior Court misunderstood the case and used flawed reasoning when he concluded that groups would be out of place making moral arguments during the trial. [...]

Law professor Alan Young, a lawyer for the challengers [three activists connected to the sex trade – Terri Jean Bedford, Amy Lebovitch and Valerie Scott], said yesterday that he took pains to construct the case as one that involves the health and safety of sex trade workers – not one that revolves around moral judgments. [...]

Prof. Young said that the groups are unlikely to consume a substantial amount of court time. “It shouldn't have any dramatic impact on the case other than to confuse and distract the judge into thinking this case is about the morality of sex work,” he said.


Snert Snert's picture

Wow.  We need Church Lady weighing in??  Welcome to the 19th century.


Im no fan of Matlow but I think he may be right on this one.

martin dufresne

The notion that the sexual exploitation of other people is a valid venture and that pimps and brothel owners are essential to women's equality and security is a moral argument, like many others on which laws are made and reformed. No sense in censoring voices out of the discussion. The next thing you know they will be taking equality advocacy out of SWC's mandate... Oops, they did that already.

Snert Snert's picture

I think there's a gulf of difference between "moral" being used as a placeholder for human ethics, and "moral" being a placeholder for "what does the Christian God demand?".

If Church Lady gets a special seat at the table to ensure that the Christian God's wishes are considered, perhaps she should also get special standing in any discussions of reproduction and women's choice, too.  I'm sure they'd love to represent the "moral" end of that. 

Does that seem reasonable to you, Martin?  Would you help ensure that nobody "censors" their voice out of those discussions too?

martin dufresne

Good example. Reproductive choice has been won using moral argumentation. If women's groups and moral arguments had been kept from the tribunals where it was discussed, Dr. Morgentaler would still be languishing in jail - and women bleeding to death in back alleys. And if you are going to discuss such arguments, it is logical and fair to hear out everybody. Religious groups certainly were around abortion.

Besides, "my God demands X" arguments have not been voiced in the prostitution issue - and wouldn't get much of a listen if they were. On the other hand, there are religious groups on the front lines where women provide more support to prostituted and trafficked women and youths in Canada than they'll ever get from cackling Babblers. I am fine with their being given a listen, in between predictably self-promoting "sex industry stakeholders".


Snert Snert's picture

Besides, "my God demands X" arguments have not been voiced in the prostitution issue - and wouldn't get much of a listen if they were.


I'm not seeing any special standing granted to the Agnostic Legal Fellowship or the Atheist Civil Rights League. As I read it, the religious groups are getting special standing not becuase they have some special understanding of prostitution that a non-religious person couldn't have, but because they have a moralistic interest in making sure that God's wishes get consideration.


- signed, cackling babbler #16695

martin dufresne

Have they requested standing?


martin, the issue is who gets to define "moral".  When I was studying business law, I discovered that even though prostitution is technically legal in Canada the courts will not enforce a contract involving this (contracts can be verbal or written and still be enforcable) because it was deemed "immoral". 

And your comments about abortion ignore that the morality leading to its current status was that a woman should have privacy rights to her own body. A woman should not be forced to use her body in service against her will. This moral principle is the exact same one in my view that should allow full decriminalization of prostitution. A woman (and all humans) should have the right to own her own body and use how she wishes. Any non-consenting behaviour should be investigated, prosecuted - with proper funding to shelters, enforcement,etc.

martin dufresne

Definitions, schmefinitions: Snert's point was that moral arguments had no place before the Court.

As for the right to someone's use of his or her own body, this is not the matter being litigated; I am a strong supporter of bringing down the law restricting soliciting by prostituted people, but in this specific case, pimps and brothel-owners are the ones challenging the sections of the Criminal Code that impede their use of other people's bodies.

susan davis susan davis's picture

bull crap, valerie,amy and terri are not pimps...., they are workers. i resent you always portraying me and other sex workers standing up for their rights as traffickers and pimps. i am not a pimp and no one involved in the challenge is either

Snert Snert's picture

Definitions, schmefinitions: Snert's point was that moral arguments had no place before the Court.


Not so much "moral" as "moral[i]istic[/i]", as particularly well embodied in most religious beliefs.


Morally, is it wrong to steal something of someone else's? I would say yes. Is it wrong because God forbade it? No. That's super that He agrees with me, but I don't need His input, and neither do the courts. If this were merely a matter of "morals" then I think we would all agree that in the interest of fairness, we would need the input of cutthroats and theives and other moral reprobates too, but we won't have those. Only the religious morality police will get their soapbox.


And be honest, Martin: if they were going to attend with the intention of endorsing the decriminalization of prostitution, you'd oppose that tooth and nail. This isn't really about any fabricated need to have Jesus testify by proxy; you just know they're going to oppose decriminalization. They're the enemy of your enemy.

martin dufresne

if they were going to attend with the intention of endorsing the decriminalization of prostitution, you'd oppose that tooth and nail...

No, I wouldn't. I want this matter decided on the substance of the issue, not on legal tactics to keep out X or Y.

martin dufresne

OK. I am just used to seeing pimps included in the "sex workers" definition by th pro-legalization lobby. Anyone can verify from their actual application what the claimants have been convicted of and what they propose to do. But I'll rephrase: "in this specific case, it is the part of the Criminal Code impeding pimps and brothel-owners' use of women's bodies that is being challenged."

susan davis susan davis's picture

it also applies to me a sole proprioter working from my home/aka/brothel. laws around prostitution are completely useless and need to be removed. again why is exploiting a nurse different from exploiting a sex worker? we do not need 2 sets of laws for violence and exploitation, it makes violence against us seem different or less important. yes, yes martin. "prostitute people" will be "better protected"by seperaate laws...we can all see how well that has worked....


Year.................. Number of murders of sex workers in vancouver


 n1960-1964.................. 0

n1965-1969 ....................0

n1970-1974 ...................0

n1975-1979 ...................3 supper clubs no longer allow escorts in clubs

n1980-1984 ...................8

n1985-1989 ...................22 current legal frame work implemented

n1990-1994 .....................24

n1995-1999 .....................55 sex workers no longer allowed to rent rooms to work in 

clearly, a mistake was made,numbers don't lie. we were way safer before.




Puts me in mind of when massage parlours opened up in London.  All of a sudden, councillors and activists became interested in the health and saftey of workers, which is actually a provincial concern, and not within the pervue of municipalities.  

And, I never noticed those same councillors or activists care too much about the health and safety conditions of women that worked in other businesses, before or since.

They can tell me it ain't about sex.  But I'll never believe them.

martin dufresne

Not one death recorded between 1960 and 1980? If it were true, I would be very happy, but I find this a bit difficult to swallow. Coud it be the women were not identified as "sex workers" (the term is, after all, recent), or that their deaths were not recorded as murders (many women have fallen to "unknown causes", or have been dismissed as "Jane Does" before feminists started making VAW an issue)? What about "disappeared" FN women? None, really?

Your numbers sound impressive, but they are merely one correlation. You could correlate that rising death count with other factors: the spread of increasingly violent pornography and men's attendant VAW, the increase in prostitution, the baby boom (most killers do so between 18 and 50 and that demographic has been overrepresented during those years). I notice your numbers stop 10 years ago. Have they been going down since, as they have in Montreal?

Every death is one too many, and I'd support any way to reduce them, but the data from countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and certain Australian states who have opened up the field to the prostitution industry does not support your contention. Which is why some of them are buying back brothels to reduce proliferation, e.g. Netherlands. Check out Mary Sullivan's "Making Sex Work" (Spinifex, 2006).

 And while we're at it, I wonder what are the numbers of killed women in Sweden over the ten years since they have outlawed buying sex, prioritized preventive education and offered support and other options to women. Johns' and pimps' self-interest is NOT non-negotiable.


Nine Knight


I work with sex workers. I listen to sex workers. I know the issues.

You still - despite all of the dialogue, research and facts that have been presented to you - do not get it.

P.S. And someone should slap a slander suit on you for comparing Valerie Scott to a pimp.  


A Sex Work Advocate that did not gain her knowledge from the back of a Victor Malarek paperback.