Sex Industry Association

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susan davis
Sex Industry Association

 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 and to implement labour standards;
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 joining...immediately...so 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.

Membership/composition:

  • 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.

Confidentiality

  • 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

susan davis

recent additions....

as a definition at beginning;

 

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.

 

under 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.

 

under confidentiailty

 

  • 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.

 

CMOT Dibbler

Bump!

CMOT Dibbler

Bump!

remind remind's picture

Quote:
Police say they've rescued three terrified immigrant women from sexual slavery in a west-end massage parlour.

They allege the women, one originally from China and two from Fiji, were lured to Edmonton from other Canadian cities with the promise of jobs as masseuses, but ended up being kept under lock and key and forced into prostitution.

It's the first time in Western Canada that anyone's been charged with human trafficking since the Criminal Code was amended in 2005 to make it a specific crime.

Just after midnight on Sept. 5, city police and RCMP raided Sachi Professional Massage and Spa, 17519 100 Ave. and a nearby apartment.

They arrested a man and a woman as they were leaving Sachi and found four more women inside. One was arrested and the other three were the alleged trafficking victims.

According to Edmonton police Det. Dave Schening, the alleged victims, who spoke almost no English, were terrified.

"There were a lot of tears and initial reluctance to talk with police," he said. By using interpreters, Schening was "able to assure them that they were the victims and they weren't in trouble."

He said the women's identification was taken from them by their captors, and the women were threatened that if they didn't do as they were told, their families would be told that they were prostitutes.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/news/columnists/andrew_hanon/2009/09/11/10834...

Michelle

How does that relate to the topic of this thread?  I'm not saying it doesn't - I'm just wondering what we're supposed to take from that, in relation to Susan's project.

remind remind's picture

Susan's contention that a decriminalized and co-operative sex worker action could/would assist against slavery prostitution, is perhaps worth exploring so that this type of thing does not occur. If there is one there has to be many many more.

I am not suggesting that it would stop it, but it would certainly cut down on the ability for this type of action to occur, IMV.

Why would people go a illegal source, if they could go to a legal one? Especially if there were criminal charges laid for those John's who attend an illegal setting.

martin dufresne

Janice Raymond addressed this in a Parliamentary subcommitee here (at 1740). Where prostitution is decriminalized, johns go to illegal sources because they are more numerous, cheaper (enslaved women, lower standards), but mostly because police stop laying charges - even against pimps and johns in illegal operations - as part of the general decriminalization ethos.

 

remind remind's picture

I can see that too martin, but I was thinking that there needs to be strict enforcement of labour codes, unionization, and heavy hitting laws against illegal activities. Just because it happened elsewhere does not mean that it has to happen here. We can use their failings to make our system better.

We seriously cannot go on the way we are. Too many women are in danger, and their work needs to be recognized as legal and they need to be protected. Keeping prostitution illegal, in essence, has not done a fucking thing to stop it. Nor will it.

I have been thinking long and carefully about this for many years. And have waivered back and forth on the matter many times over, much more so than any other issue actually.

If people can choose to lease their bodies, at any other type of work, so can people choose to lease their bodies for sexual work. They have a right to be protected and covered by the social safety net, as are all other workers.

Ghislaine

martin dufresne wrote:

Janice Raymond addressed this in a Parliamentary subcommitee here (at 1740). Where prostitution is decriminalized, johns go to illegal sources because they are more numerous, cheaper (enslaved women, lower standards), but mostly because police stop laying charges - even against pimps and johns in illegal operations - as part of the general decriminalization ethos.

 

Well, martin lack of police enforcement of the law is  seperate issue that should be tackled. "The general decriminalization ethos" does not include ignoring written laws. Prohibition of alcohol has ended, but does that mean police ignore underage drinking or drunk driving? Police are also horribly negligent in terms issues involving rape and violence against women in other areas. This fits in with that and the general devaluation of women by our justice system. It should be tied to decriminalization of prostitution. Women (and all human beings) should have the right to own their bodies and consent (as adults) to do what they wish with them.

martin dufresne

Treating an industry where the majority of women are coerced to give up their sexual freedom by physical or economic violence as "women doing what they wish with their bodies" is a neo-liberal illusion that obscures the people that have real control over this business: traffickers, pimps, johns and their accomplices in government and in the media. It's easy enough to appeal to principles that should apply in order to wash one's hands of the reality of the most impoverished and marginalized of women. I just think we can do better than hope for better brothels from a "self-regulating" industry.

Chances: The Women of Magdalene (a film by Tom Neff): "The innovative Magdalene Program, takes drug addicted prostitutes off the street and transforms them into vibrant, involved, self-reliant members of society."

susan davis

wow martin, you just won't listen.....i and my compatriates are not trafficked and pimped and your assertions of organized crime control are not based in reality. please, if you are going to argue points at least back up your assumptions in researc findings. assumptions like yours are killing us.

 

i agree remind, we could identify exploititive businesses alot mre easily in a decrim environment. 

martin dufresne

Your paraphrase is misleading: What I wrote about prostitution was that "the majority of women are coerced to give up their sexual freedom by physical or economic violence". And you have yet to back up your suggestion that  this is false or that your organization represents in any way that majority of women when it promotes decriminalizing pimping; it is easy enough to diss my voice but it seems to me that many women, includng many formerly prostituted women, have challenged your lobby on those grounds.

writer writer's picture

martin, those many women are welcome to post on this board, as is susan. Please stop speaking for them.

Your agressiveness here (and elsewhere with susan) is creeping me out.

Tommy_Paine

Why would people go a illegal source, if they could go to a legal one? Especially if there were criminal charges laid for those John's who attend an illegal setting.

Precisely because it is illegal.   The best cigarettes I have of the day are the ones  I sneak inside the plant where it's illegal.  And, when it comes to my sexual peccadillos, it pisses me off when I see them presented (not mine, personally, but the genre's-- don't you wish!)  in anyway approaching mainstream.

It strikes me that we have to make the kind of prostitution Susan engages in into a profession, complete with a degree, a college, and certification. 

That way, the police  would be very interested in policing those who practice outside the boundries, just like I can't call myself a doctor, a lawyer or even psychologist. (!?)

However, then the prices would go up, and I'd have to put Susan into the same catagory as lawyers and such, who are allways screwing the working guy.

 

um.... you know what I mean.

Doug

At least sex work can't - as of yet - be outsourced to India.

writer writer's picture

The working guy. The working guy. The working guy.

Think this is it for me and babble.

Have fun, boys.

remind remind's picture

Hmmm, interesting, I would never consider a snuck smoke, as being more pleasurable than just having one. I would be too paranoid of getting caught to enjoy it.

Nor would I care if my hidden pleasures become mainstream. That is if I had any. ;)

Is this broadly a male thing or, something, that has no sex lines, and is just sub set of people types?

~

Susan, the girls rescued last night in Edmonton, as noted in the article most definitely were being pimped, and they were being forced, in the extreme, to do so.

Now is this typical for "massage parlours"? I ask because you have stated that this type of business owner would have a seat at the table. I disagree with the notion that they should be. Either the workers are independant, and have to be able to prove so, or they belong to a unionized busines.

Thus, I would be personally in favour of it being completely regulated by the existing governing bodies, such as those who look after labour rights, health board certification and regulation, and other "plant inspectors" so to speak.

And there would have to be penalities for johns who try and frequent illegal operations, perhaps of a criminal nature after so many charges of other types.

And for those who were working under the table, well income tax could become involved, as well as breach of health regulations.

remind remind's picture

Hope you mean this thread writer, or for just today.

Tommy_Paine

Hmmm, interesting, I would never consider a snuck smoke, as being more pleasurable than just having one. I would be too paranoid of getting caught to enjoy it.

Nor would I care if my hidden pleasures become mainstream. That is if I had any. ;)

Is this broadly a male thing or, something, that has no sex lines, and is just sub set of people types?

I don't know about it being a broadly male thing; I suspect it's even across gender lines but the way it's expressed is different, generally from one gender to another.    But it's a phenomenon.  Some people like to play with the taboo.   That's why legalization/regulation isn't a panacea.

remind remind's picture

Sory, I do not accept the legalization/regulation isn't panacea excuse to not do something.

We could apply that to anything and everything then too. No work place regulations, for example, as people will just break them, does not wash.

Tommy_Paine

 

Oh, I've never suggested it  was an excuse to do nothing.  When we talked  about this before,  that's what  I said.  Clearly, something has to be done, and Susan's approach, or variants of it, is the way to go.

But it doesn't solve everything, and it's not going to end street prostitution and the sexual exploitation of women overnight.

Clearly, changes to our drug laws and health care treatment for substance abuse figures largely into this.

And, there has to be a change in the way we think about our sexuality, with heavy and particular emphasis on the way men connect power and control with sex, and how easily they rationalize to their convenience interpretations of consent.

susan davis

 

remind wrote:
Hmmm, interesting, I would never consider a snuck smoke, as being more pleasurable than just having one. I would be too paranoid of getting caught to enjoy it. Nor would I care if my hidden pleasures become mainstream. That is if I had any. ;) Is this broadly a male thing or, something, that has no sex lines, and is just sub set of people types? ~ Susan, the girls rescued last night in Edmonton, as noted in the article most definitely were being pimped, and they were being forced, in the extreme, to do so. Now is this typical for "massage parlours"? I ask because you have stated that this type of business owner would have a seat at the table. I disagree with the notion that they should be. Either the workers are independant, and have to be able to prove so, or they belong to a unionized busines. Thus, I would be personally in favour of it being completely regulated by the existing governing bodies, such as those who look after labour rights, health board certification and regulation, and other "plant inspectors" so to speak. And there would have to be penalities for johns who try and frequent illegal operations, perhaps of a criminal nature after so many charges of other types. And for those who were working under the table, well income tax could become involved, as well as breach of health regulations.

no, it is not typical but is becoming more so as destabilization continues. i too am not in support of abusive practicies or exploitation of any person and you seem to capture our intentions as far as our industry association, we want labour rights, health, free choice to exit no forced sex work, as well as penalties for those operating outiside of what is accepted as ethical by all canadians. as a society we can negoatiate terms of ethics and minimum labour standards together and ensure workers are not exploited

it is percisely incidents like described in edmonton that require us to begin to work towards transparency and accountability in the sex industry. power to workers, tools to make safe decisions, accountability for businesses exploiting people and consumers supporting those businesses. sounds awesome!!

remind remind's picture

Fantastic, we agree then, on most things in this respect.

Though I do not believe the sex industry should regulate itself, in any way shape or form.

susan davis

oops, double post!!lol

susan davis

i understand, we are also suspicious of mainstream community. we must find common ground and find a balanced approach that ensures inclusion of sex workers in any discussions or decisions that could impact our safety. we must embrace an inclusive process to ensure mistakes and over sights of the past are not repeated. only by including all perpsectives will we create an environment of protection for workers. i also am in agreement about government bodies regulating as is done in other industries, i just feel we as an industry must also take part in stabilization and accountability. i say self regulate, but i guess i mean in partnership with government. we don't want special treatment different from other industries, we just want equal treatment and safety at work.

susan davis

Tommy_Paine wrote:

Why would people go a illegal source, if they could go to a legal one? Especially if there were criminal charges laid for those John's who attend an illegal setting.

Precisely because it is illegal.   The best cigarettes I have of the day are the ones  I sneak inside the plant where it's illegal.  And, when it comes to my sexual peccadillos, it pisses me off when I see them presented (not mine, personally, but the genre's-- don't you wish!)  in anyway approaching mainstream.

It strikes me that we have to make the kind of prostitution Susan engages in into a profession, complete with a degree, a college, and certification. 

That way, the police  would be very interested in policing those who practice outside the boundries, just like I can't call myself a doctor, a lawyer or even psychologist. (!?)

However, then the prices would go up, and I'd have to put Susan into the same catagory as lawyers and such, who are allways screwing the working guy.

 

um.... you know what I mean.

 

love it!!!! i am blue collar all the way !!!!

Tommy_Paine

Though I do not believe the sex industry should regulate itself, in any way shape or form.

 

I was being flipant, I'm not in favour of any "self regulating" professional body-- on any issue, it's a given.

 

remind remind's picture

susan how I visualize it could be implimented, would be something like this:

Members from the industry, and not pimps and john's, would sit on advisory boards created for each segment of regulatory bodies. This ALL would be only for the transitional time of creating the industry, of course.

Legitimate business owners, could participate in the labour advisory segments, but there would be 1 or 2 representatives only, from a group of said business owners. (They would have to form their own group and decide upon representatives)

No workers from the same business, as an owner who sits on any said advisory body, could sit on the advisory panel. preferabley they would even be from a different area of serice provision and/or local.

John's do not need any inclusion, however, that said, I would like to see representatives from the mental health provision industry to sit in all boards, for 2 reasons.

1. To ensure there is a legal space made those with mental health conditions that require care givers, so that sexual service provision becomes a part of accepted future care plans, in a team effort with sexual service providers. They could be a separate branch off group that could develop pilot programs and policies, and take back to the main board for tweaking and implimentation of recommendations.

2. Separate mental health care individual(s) would monitor persons and actions within said advisory groups. May it be from the official side, or the service provision side. The whole situation needs to be monitored for sensitivity within any interpersonal actions framework.

Of course there would be more needed but it would be a start.

susan davis

all great ideas!!!i would suggest also, disabled men/consumers being represented. to ensure incusion for infirmed patrons and future sexual service provision as a care plan...i have met many disabled men in my career. your ideas reflect reasons why we must work together and share ideas to ensure all aspects are covered.

jas

Just a reminder that we have had other opinions from the sex industry post here on Babble before. 

XPALSS

Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude

As women who have been prostituted in Vancouver and in the light of these facts:

* That current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated
* That there is currently a proposal to open a legal brothel in Vancouver
* That this proposal is said to speak for current and former prostitutes of Vancouver
* That this proposal promises to make the lives of prostituted women "safer" at best
* That none of us have ever met a prostituted woman who would not leave the "trade" if she had a real chance to do so
* That we are women who have been abused on Canadian soil, by Canadian men while all levels of our Government did nothing to intervene.
* That some members of parliament are now advocating to legalize that abuse.

 

Why prostitution, the world's oldest oppression, must be stamped out

remind remind's picture

The reality is jas, it is not going to be stamped out any thime soon. Society has to make way huge changes before it ever would just dwindle away from non-use. Well men's thinking actually.

Thus it is incumbent upon us, to make it as safe as possible, of a work line pursuit.

susan davis

as i stated in vancouver we are not moving forward yet on our brothel and we do already have many legal brothels....why are workers in DTES not deemed worthy of a toilette to use on shift, a place to wash after entertaining a client and a safe place to work is beyind me.

i do support and respect expals and believe all sex workers voice and experence must be honored. exploitation in all forms must be irradicated. that said, expals do not make room for my voice and refuse to accept experiences of workers who find sex work rewarding. excluding any perspective is a recipe for disaster. i would welcome groups like expals input to our future as it is our sincere wish to ensure no workers are forced or harmed. their experiences are vital to identifying gaps and ways people exploit us.

 

i have met members of expals and so they actually have met a sex worker who has had opportunities to exit but chose to do this work. it feels as if they do not honor my experience or any of the workers i represent, which actually is quite alot. 700 people for instance reviewed CAEC terms of reference, how many sex workers contributed to the statements above?

 

i support ALL perspectives of our industry and hope one day groups like expals will accept i have a voice as well.

Maysie Maysie's picture

susan, I want to thank you, again, for your words and for sharing your experiences with the folks here on babble.

susan davis

i am greatful for the opportunity! thanks maysie and everyone!

Wilf Day

writer wrote:
The working guy. The working guy. The working guy.

Think this is it for me and babble.

Have fun, boys.

Please come back.

I note Susan herself liked Tommy's post.

Maysie wrote:
susan, I want to thank you, again, for your words and for sharing your experiences with the folks here on babble.

Me too. Just because most men don't try to comment on a thread like this doesn't mean we're not reading.

susan davis

cool wilf! tanxbabe!

susie

Infosaturated

I think that given the existing information we have about the results of the legalization of sex work it's incredibly sad to see it promoted here.  Laws are not designed for the individual they are designed to protect the population as a whole. 

It has been illustrated that legalization of sex work results in increased trafficking of women and children and no reduction in harm because the illegal sex worker industry explodes.  Sex workers report increased pressure to not use condoms and there is downward pressure on their fees.  It results in an increased objectification of women.  It attracts sex tourism.  I shudder at the thought of Montreal full of horney men looking for prostitutes. 

 

Infosaturated

writer wrote:

martin, those many women are welcome to post on this board, as is susan. Please stop speaking for them.

Your agressiveness here (and elsewhere with susan) is creeping me out.

His agressiveness?  All he has done is provided information with links to back up that debunk some of the claims being made by Susan.

susan davis

Infosaturated wrote:

I think that given the existing information we have about the results of the legalization of sex work it's incredibly sad to see it promoted here.  Laws are not designed for the individual they are designed to protect the population as a whole. 

It has been illustrated that legalization of sex work results in increased trafficking of women and children and no reduction in harm because the illegal sex worker industry explodes.  Sex workers report increased pressure to not use condoms and there is downward pressure on their fees.  It results in an increased objectification of women.  It attracts sex tourism.  I shudder at the thought of Montreal full of horney men looking for prostitutes. 

 

not true, no marked increase in trafficking and exploitation occured in ustralia or new zealand. average age of sex workers in australia is 32 years old. please, provide research ethics board reviewed data or government documents as per canadian government policy. nowhere does legitimate data suggest this.

Infosaturated

http://www.oneangrygirl.net/antiporn.html

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Prostitution.
Answered by S.M. Berg

•Q. Isn’t prostitution mostly a choice?

A. When prostituted women are asked if they want to leave prostitution, consistently around 90% say they want out immediately but the decision is out of their hands and in the hands of their pimps, their husbands, their landlords, their addictions, their children's bellies. A recent study of street prostitutes in Toronto found that about 90% wanted to leave but could not, and a 5-country study found 92% wanted out of prostitution. If they are there because they cannot leave, they are not choosing to be there.

If prostitution were really a choice it would not be those populations with the least amount of choices available to them far disproportionately pushed into it. If prostitution were a choice there would no billion-dollar black market trade in coerced, tricked, kidnapped and enslaved people known as human trafficking.

Q. Sex is a powerful commodity.

A.Tulips were once considered a powerful commodity, which is to say what men place value on is up to men’s subjectivity and not a human universal. The same was said about trading black flesh once, and it was proven incorrect. We're not talking about 'commodities to be traded' but human beings. In prostitution it is not sex that is sold, it is power over women.

Q. Men will treat prostitutes better if it is legalized

This has not borne itself out in legalization trials in Australia, the Netherlands and Germany.

All attempts to lessen the harms of prostitution have failed because men have not lessened their debasement of female sexuality and propensity to commit gendered violence in any significant way. There are plenty of medical records, police records and personal testimonies to substantiate men's violence towards females in places where prostitution has been legalized. Where prostitution thrives the value of women's lives is low and the gendered violence they suffer has not decreased. In fact, the legalized province of Victoria, Australia has both the country’s highest domestic violence rates and child prostitution rates.

In theory it sounds good to say sane, reasonable people should have the right to sell a kidney for $500 or more if they choose to. But opening the door to body organ selling would not lead to nearly as many middle class American white men selling organs as other populations whose social circumstances can't seriously be said to allow a free, uncoerced choice, and it would open the door for 'brokers' who exploit poor people. I'm glad we are willing to sacrifice the theoretical capitalistic rights of a very few possible body organ sellers for the greater benefit of preventing widespread exploitation of less privileged people.

Q. Hasn’t prohibition been shown to fail?

A. Depends on what you’re prohibiting. We as a culture prohibit child porn, and it’s true there that prohibition doesn’t work, but that doesn’t mean the only other option is legalization.

When we stop focusing all attention on whether or not poverty-stricken teenage girls with abusive histories really want to be whores and begin asking why so many men are unbelievably, horrifically violent towards prostituted people then we'll get to the place Sweden is at, the place that stops blaming young females for creating their own rape, torture and captivity and recognizes that without men's demand for bodies to abuse there would be no supply of bodies to abuse.

Q. Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession and will always exist.

A. Prostitution is not the oldest profession, slave trading is, men selling or trading female bodies amongst each other for profit. Saying prostitution is the oldest profession makes it sound like women, the prostitutes, have always been the cunning and seductive initiators wielding their mighty sexual power over defenseless men like powerful vampiresses of the night. That's the misogynist lie men have always wanted promoted because it absolves them of responsibility for what they do to children and women and makes them look like the victims of women’s seductive wiles.

Q. Shouldn’t prostitution be legalized and thought of as a normal job?

A. I don't believe that will never happen, and for good reason. There's no reason to believe there will be a day when being naked won't make people feel vulnerable and exposed. It's a universal human experience of being naked to feel more vulnerable than having clothes on (there is no human society that doesn't have clothing of a sorts), and it is inherent in having a piece of someone else's body penetrate another body to feel what thousands of prostitutes interviewed say they feel: like a human toilet, like they are being raped over and over again.

Contrary to what pro-prostitution advocates claim, the worst thing prostitutes face is not social stigma, it is rape, strangulation, beatings, burnings and other violence from johns and pimps (pimps being the party johns pay to outsource the violence necessary to keep prostitutes obedient.)

The Swedish model decriminalizing victims and putting the emphasis for change on prostitute-using men is the way to go because men should not have a right to sex on demand and it is the belief they are entitled to sex on demand that fuels prostitution, rape, street harassment, workplace sex harassment, anti-choice dogma, and every other gendered ill that makes up what we call “sexism.”

Q. Why pretend prostitution isn’t a part of everyday life?

A. I don't see anyone pretending our culture isn’t saturated with the selling of female bodies, especially not the social workers and researchers trying to find solutions to the misery. When I hear people talk of legalizing it, I see a whole lot of pretending the misogyny and abuse intrinsic to the act of prostitution can somehow be wished away if only more laws making rape and assault more illegal than they already are get passed. It can't, as Sweden's own decades-long experiment with decriminalized prostitution demonstrated.

Q. Don't a lot of women enjoy it?

A. There is no research or collected evidence supporting this claim. When proponents of legalization talk about legitimizing prostitution they talk a lot about theory and rights and ethics, but they don't let prostitutes themselves speak what they want. A 5-country study of prostitutes found 92% wanted help getting out of prostitution immediately. 100% said they didn't want anyone they loved to ever have to prostitute their bodies for survival.

In Germany the service union ver.di offered union membership to Germany's estimated 400,000 sex workers. They would be entitled to health care, legal aid, thirty paid holiday days a year, a five-day workweek, and Christmas and holiday bonuses.

Out of 400,000 sex workers, only 100 joined the union. That's .00025% of German sex workers. Women don't want to be prostitutes.

There is no sensible feminist reason to ignore the 92% of prostitutes who do not consider it work but slavery in favor of the 8% minority, especially when doing so only affirms the rape culture that affirms men’s entitlement to use women’s bodies any way they desire, any time they want it.

Q. Do you think prostitutes should be arrested?

A. Absolutely not, since I don’t believe being desperately poor and/or abused is a crime. But johns, pimps and other sexual predators need to stop their criminally abusive behaviors and asking them nicely hasn’t been working. Sweden has had great success criminalizing sexual predation while attempting to assist people in getting out of ‘the life’.

Q. But people need sex and some have no other way to get it than from prostitutes.

A. No one ‘needs’ sex like they need food, water and air, and no one has the right to purchase access to another person’s reproductive organs in order to masturbate themselves.

Sex is fun, and it feels good, and it is widely available to anyone who treats others respectably with kindness and asks. Buying prostitutes is less about sexual gratification than power gratification, because in an exchange of equal partners there is always the risk of disagreement and the need for compromise. 85% of American johns have regular female sexual partners and 60% are married men.

Q. But you agree porn and stripping aren’t prostitution, right?

A. Of course they are. If getting paid to perform sex acts is prostitution, using a camera to record people getting paid to perform sex acts is recording prostitution. It is comforting for people to call porn performers ‘porn actresses’ to distance themselves emotionally from the truth that they pay a third party for recording of prostitutes being prostituted, but porn actresses have a lot more in common with other prostitutes than with other actresses, such as poverty, a history of child sex abuse and drug addictions.

Strip clubs, porn, Hooters, mail order brides, and other “sex work” are the prostitution of female sexuality for male consumption. In one study, 100% of strippers interviewed said they had been propositioned as prostitutes by strip club patrons, so if you don't think strippers are prostitutes please recognize that your opinion differs greatly from that of men who spend their money to make women submit themselves sexually in strip clubs.

Q. Can’t prostitution be made medically safer with regulations?

A. Sometimes more safe is still not safe enough. Unless prostituted women are sterilized they can expect to get pregnant and must have repeated abortions. Neither the option of sterilization nor submission to repeated abortions is acceptable, and humans have not yet figured out a 100% effective method of containing the spread of deadly STDs.

I'm much more concerned about preventing rape, battery, burnings. etc. than I am in wondering how to patch women up after men torture them. When doctors, police, priests, NATO soldiers and refugee working men use their position of power to prey upon vulnerable and traumatized populations, as many prostituted people have reported, regulating prostitution is really about men organizing to provide other men easy access to disease-free bodies and not about the welfare of women's health and well being.

Q. If you try to stop prostitution, won’t it just go underground

A. This is extortion. It assumes that men currently abuse, torture and rape prostitutes in horribly high numbers and if feminists don't agree to provide clean bodies for men’s sexual self-gratification, their entertainment, then johns are gonna really beat the living shit out of prostitutes and it will be feminist's fault they did it.

Basing public policy measures on the extortionist threat of increased violence in an already very violent environment is no way for a civil society to operate. Also, legalization has not only not stopped the violence prostituted people face, it has actually made it harder for victims to 'prove' they were forced and increased the number of people involved with the sex industry overall, hence expanding the number of people affected without stopping the violence.

I am not persuaded that being fucked by men and having men squirt ejaculate onto and into a woman's body should be normalized as a "profession" and good-enough work for poor women based on threats of worse violence and violations. Prostitutes are already at the bottom of the social totem pole, more raped, killed, exploited and reviled than any group of women. Brothels are rape rooms and the daily systematized atrocities happening in them right now are compelling enough to take action stopping them.

Q. What about women like Annie Sprinkle, Nina Hartley, etc. who say they enjoy being prostitutes?

A. As with antiwar leaders, many former prostitutes (Andrea Dworkin, Norma Hotaling, Kelly Holsopple, Carol Smith, Anne Bissell) are themselves survivors of the commercial sex industry.

That a few paid prostitutes have learned to profit from advocating the legalization of prostitution does not hold water next to the responses of the overwhelming number of prostitutes without columns in porn magazines, book deals, their own websites, nationwide tours and scheduled appearances on the talk show circuit booked by an agent who negotiates speaking fees. Some leading "pro-sex work" advocates of legalized prostitution such as Robyn Few, Norma Jean Almodovar and Margo St. James have been convicted on pimping charges though they continue to present themselves as common prostitutes and not bigger players in organizing crimes against prostituted women. Sex worker rights leader Carol Leigh, aka Scarlot Harlot, has said herself in a 2004 debate, "95% of my friends want out of prostitution."

Don’t you think tons of studies on legalization have been done by all sorts of parties? If the wealthy pimps, pornographers and governments who want legalization and taxation had solid information proving that legalization has met its stated goals, why wouldn’t they spread that information across the Earth? Hugh Hefner would probably make a centerfold out of such "women like it and it's healthy" research.

If you know of a piece of quality research where a majority of prostitutes responded that they enjoyed being sexually used by several men a day, day after day, please present it to me. I have read a lot about this and I have never seen any evidence to support that prostitutes enjoy their job (paid celebrity spokeswomen for the billion dollar multinational sex industry aside.)

Q. Aren’t you making personal moral judgments about prostitution and pushing them on others?

A. While the inherent intimacy of the nature of sexual acts is often a part of some people’s belief that sexuality is unique to personal identity and possibly even sacred, most of what I've seen is research focused on the harm done to prostituted people. In other words, I'm not against legalizing prostitution because I'm uncomfortable morally with selling sex or have questions about my own sexuality, I am against legalizing prostitution because I have seen how it destroys health, hope, communities, and many, many lives.

Q. Isn’t it better to make lots of money as a prostitute than working a minmum wage McJob?

A. Prostitution is "work" unlike any other, which is why I have come to see it as the Swedish do, as institutionalized sexual oppression instead of work. There is no other "job" where a person is expected to have their bodies penetrated repeatedly and exposed to contagion-carrying human fluids. There is no other "job" where a 13-year-old with zero experience can be sold for 100 times the price what a 23-year-old with ten years experience is sold. There is no other "job" an emaciated homeless person strung out on heroin can do (or, more accurately, have done to them) as they're lying limp on the floor.

What has happened in the Netherlands is johns seek out the most dejected and desperate women (and children) to sexually prey on because their powerlessness and addictions make them more willing to do violent, unsafe acts of prostitution for less money. The relatively small number of Dutch-born sex workers complain of being undercut by drug addicted and severly abused women and "prosti-tots" (pimp joke) offering sex for their next fix.

Q. Men prostitute too so it’s not just about women

A. Prisons develop systems of prostitution (not surprising since prostitution is big $$$ among gang members not in jail), and there is a specific loss of power, prestige, self-determination and spirit among men who are pimped and tricked. Men who get fucked are treated much differently than men who do the fucking, and no one is treated better than the pimp.

Q. Legalizing prostitution is part of a wider campaign of sexual liberation

A. Liberation for who is the underlying question. What is it about sex and women that lowers a woman's perceived cultural value if she has sex even without money or forcibly as in cases of rape? Changing the cultural connection that makes women engaging in sex (paid for, raped, or consensual) worth-less, low class sluts needs to be changed before legalization can be honestly considered.

There is the unfortunate neoliberal misconception that free markets are the best kind, that the economic marketplace can regulate itself through the cause and effects of competition, supply and demand. Ask yourself if Wal-mart is really the world’s largest private employer because they are “better” than other companies. In light of the evident failures of free marketism to produce diverse, consumer-driven and fair business practices, how well should the free marketplace of ideas fare under the same laissez faire system? Why wouldn’t we expect the same opportunistic consolidations, money equals the right to speech, more powerful exploiting the less powerful?

Q. Why can’t you see johns/tricks who pay for prostitutes as just customers of sexual services?

A. The man with the money has all the power, not the moneyless prostitute. It's impossible to say men spend their money to create the exact sexee scenario they desire and this means prostitutes have the power to dictate what will happen, how far it will go, and all other aspects of the fantasy the customer is paying for. Not only is it impossible for the money-holding man to transfer his inherent greater power in a fantasy of his own making, it is emphatically not what prostitutes say happens. Johns are the demand that keeps the prostituted bodies moving, and the economic model is "demand creates supply."

Johns do not go out of their way to forcibly abduct women, get them hooked on drugs, take total control of their lives, or in any other way trap them in the sex trade because they don't have to. The pimps do it for them. They don't trap their prey, they are like vultures who prey on the down and out, who pay specifically for their victims to be down and out. Johns have sex with someone who is being held captive because of the expectation (an expectation rooted in reality) that they will pay good money for it, then they say it is not their fault because they weren't the one holding them down.

susan davis

Infosaturated wrote:

writer wrote:

martin, those many women are welcome to post on this board, as is susan. Please stop speaking for them.

Your agressiveness here (and elsewhere with susan) is creeping me out.

His agressiveness?  All he has done is provided information with links to back up that debunk some of the claims being made by Susan.

martins choices to use language he knows upsets me and to provide no legitimate or REB reviewed backup is a bit aggressive. i am an active sex worker and expals are not. i respect some workers are exploited in my industry but not 85% or whatever number is being promoted now.i respect martin's right to hisopinion but would like to point out...martin is not a sex worker and has never had to risk his life for food or shelter. refusing to acknowlegde what researchers and governments all over the world are coming to understand based on morale issues is killing us. expals promote one experience, theirs and ask the world to paint us all with the same brush. i am not a victim, my cohorts are not victims and we are tired of these myths about our lives being perpetuated to forward some political or morale goal of abolition. we must as a society begin to move away from punishment and towards protection.

 

susan davis

wow, what a long hate filled thread.....i am not going to go around this merry go round again. your interview is from rape relief ...copied and pasted....and is not reflective of all sex workers experiences. only experiences of workers experiencing violence or exploitation. never do groups like these include empowered workers and so so not reflect true numbers and ratio's of workers to violence. please consider supporting rights for workers.

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:

 

not true, no marked increase in trafficking and exploitation occured in ustralia or new zealand. average age of sex workers in australia is 32 years old. please, provide research ethics board reviewed data or government documents as per canadian government policy. nowhere does legitimate data suggest this.

http://www.uri.edu/artsci/wms/hughes/austral.htm

There are 3,000 children, some younger than 10, in the Australian sex industry, which includes brothels, escort work, street prostitution, pornography, sex for favors and stripping. (EPCAT report, Agence France-Presse, 13 April 1998)

59 of 2,992 prostitutes studied for a report conducted by EPCAT were between 10 and 12 years old. 15 were under 10 years old. Two-thirds were girls. (EPCAT report, Agence France-Presse, 13 April 1998)

Child prostitution in Australia was studied by ECPAT, which collected information from early 471 government and non-government agencies working with children. The study, the first of its kind, revealed a vicious cycle leading to child commercial sexual activities. Links were found between young people being sold and youth homelessness, dysfunctional family backgrounds and lack of self-esteem. The government and public should act immediately to provide housing, income security, education and advice to young people. Children are also sold to sex tourists. Parents have been found to sell their own children.

    * More than 1200 Victorian children are involved in prostitution - the highest rate in the nation.
    * 320 Queensland children were involved in child prostitution.
    * More than 3100 Australian children aged 12-18 sold sex to survive.
    * Children younger than 10 were involved in organized pedophile rings.
    * Child pornography was not limited to the inner cities but was increasing in rural and regional areas.

The main reasons children were sold for sex were for accommodation, food, alcohol, clothes and drugs. (Sarah Hudson, "Child sex soaring," Herald Sun, 30 September 1998) and ("Children, 10, swapping sex for groceries, drugs," Courier Mail, 30 September 1998)

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:

wow, what a long hate filled thread.....i am not going to go around this merry go round again. your interview is from rape relief ...copied and pasted....and is not reflective of all sex workers experiences. only experiences of workers experiencing violence or exploitation. never do groups like these include empowered workers and so so not reflect true numbers and ratio's of workers to violence. please consider supporting rights for workers.

Just because people disagree with you it doesn't make the thread "hate-filled".  Seeing as this is an important issue for you don't have a list of links that back up your claims.  While that site was a rape relief it doesn't mean their information is inaccurate.

A recent study of street prostitutes in Toronto found that about 90% wanted to leave but could not, and a 5-country study found 92% wanted out of prostitution.

Not just rape victims, prostitutes in general.  Even if those studies were somehow skewed those are still extreme numbers.

The other information I used was from a university site. 

Ten years ago, Australia made a risky policy move it thought would help protect women and children: it legalized prostitution.  Today, only 10% of the prostitution industry operates in Australia's legal brothels.  The other 90% takes place in underground, illegal sex markets thick with forced prostitution and human trafficking victims.

http://humantrafficking.change.org/blog/view/legal_prostitution_in_austr...

The University of Queensland Working Group on Human Trafficking recently released a report stating that the prostitution laws in Australia had failed.  Since 1999, women in Australia have had the option of working legally in licensed brothels or on their own.  The hope was that women with an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for commercial sex would set up their own businesses, and make everything safe, legal, and regulated.  That hasn't happened.

susan davis

so you, like martin refuse to acknowledge government of canada findings?

 

Overview of Different Legislative Approaches

 

http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/library/PRBpubs/prb0329-e.htm

 

 

Each of the countries and states examined in this paper relies on a variation of one of the following five approaches to prostitution:

Prohibitionism seeks to eliminate prostitution by criminalizing all aspects of the prostitution trade. Under this approach, prostitution is seen as a violation of human dignity. Criminal law and effective law enforcement are viewed as critical tools in reducing the number of individuals involved in prostitution.

Decriminalization implies the repeal of prostitution-related criminal law. In Canada, decriminalization would involve repealing all criminal law relating to prostitution, including communicating for the purposes of prostitution, operating a bawdy house and/or brothel, and living off the avails of prostitution.

Legalization refers to the regulation of prostitution through criminal law or some other type of legislation. This approach treats prostitution as a legal occupation, but nevertheless controls it by a set of rules that govern who can work and under what circumstances they may do so. Typically, governments that have adopted the legalization approach regulate the trade through work permits, licensing and/or tolerance zones.

Abolitionism is often described as the middle ground between prohibitionism and legalization. Advocates of this approach maintain that even though prostitutes may choose to enter the trade, it is nevertheless immoral. They believe that governments must take the necessary steps to allow prostitution to take place only as long as it does not infringe on public safety and order. Generally, abolitionists call for the criminalization of public solicitation.

Neo-abolitionism holds that prostitution violates a person's human rights. Advocates maintain that there is no such thing as free choice in this matter - prostitution in all its forms constitutes the sale and consumption of human bodies. While neo-abolitionists call for the decriminalization of prostitutes themselves, they encourage governments to criminalize the activities of procurers and customers.

 

Australia

Responsibility for criminal legislation in Australia falls primarily on individual states. States may take very different approaches towards the management and regulation of prostitution, as exemplified by the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and the state of Victoria.

A.  Australian Capital Territory (Decriminalization With Controls)

In 1992, the ACT adopted the Prostitution Act, aimed at managing the worst effects of the prostitution industry. (6) While the Prostitution Act decriminalizes prostitution in private spaces, it nevertheless sets up a series of regulations designed to protect sex workers and the public at large. Its goals are to:

  1. maintain public health;
  2. protect the health and safety of prostitutes;
  3. limit the operation of brothels to particular places; and
  4. eliminate the sexual exploitation of children.

 

Unlike most other Australian states (such as Victoria), the ACT does not license prostitutes, brothels, or escort agencies. Rather, it requires members of the prostitution industry to register with the Registrar of Brothels and Escort Agencies. Registration is not difficult, nor is it a particularly lengthy process. Every year, individuals who wish to register themselves or their businesses must provide their contact information to the Registrar and pay a small fee. According to the government of the ACT, registration is preferable to licensing because of its ease and efficiency. (7)

By all accounts, the registration system appears to be meeting its goals. While the ACT (like many other Australian states) continues to prohibit street solicitation, very little of it seems to occur in practice. As Sullivan points out, "this is probably because other employment opportunities in the sex industry are readily accessible." (8) Moreover, due to the relative straightforwardness of the registration process, there appear to be very few illegal brothels and escort agencies.

Until 2002, the Registrar of Brothels and Escort Agencies did not have the authority to deny registration to any prospective owners of such establishments. Critics charged that the ACT allowed "undesirables" to enter the prostitution industry, particularly those who had been involved in criminal activity. (9) As a result, the government introduced an amendment to the Prostitution Act in 2002, requiring employers and operators to submit to a criminal background check. Any individual convicted of a "disqualifying offence" is currently not permitted to own or operate a brothel or escort agency. The "disqualifying offences" listed in the schedules of the Prostitution Act include assault, murder, sexual assault and involvement in child pornography and exploitation. (10)

Another key objective of the Prostitution Act is to safeguard the health of persons involved in prostitution and the community at large. The Act includes several provisions designed to stem the transmission of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Prostitutes employed in brothels and escort agencies must undergo mandatory STD testing. Those infected with an STD are prohibited from providing sexual services, and owners and managers of brothels and escort agencies must not allow an employee to work if that person is infected.

While some critics have denounced compulsory medical testing, many have applauded the government's attempt to make all parties responsible for preventing STD transmission. (11) Rather than targeting just the person selling sexual services, the Prostitution Act makes it illegal for anyone to "provide or receive commercial sexual services" knowing that they are infected with an STD. Consequently, sex workers are believed to be in a better position to resist pressure from their clients (and/or their employers) not to use a condom. (12)

The Sexual Services Industry Code of Practice was first introduced in 1999 for the further protection of sex workers and their clients. (13) Employers and/or operators of brothels and escort agencies are required to provide facilities that meet health and safety standards. The standards, which were developed by a collective of sex workers, police officers and health officials, include regulations on cleanliness and safety, as well as the purchase and disposal of "personal protective equipment" (such as condoms and other prophylactics). There remains some concern, however, that not all members of the prostitution industry are aware of their rights and responsibilities. One organization, Workers in Sex Employment (WISE), has called upon the government to take "a [more] proactive role in the education of brothel owners and sex workers." (14)

Barbara Sullivan, one of the foremost scholars on prostitution in Australia, argues that, in sum, "[t]here are some clear advantages to the ACT system." There appear to be very few illegal brothels and very little street solicitation. Brothels are largely confined to industrial areas, because of the ACT's zoning requirements. Moreover, prostitutes' advocacy groups are satisfied with the ACT's focus on occupational health and safety. A collective of stakeholders in the sex industry continues to consult the government on ongoing issues. (15)

In assessing the ACT's approach, it is important to note the Territory's distinctive history with regard to this issue. Even before 1992, the ACT pursued a policy of toleration and control. Persons involved in prostitution were not charged unless a complaint had been lodged. Moreover, sex workers already enjoyed a fairly cordial relationship with the police and other community members. According to Sullivan,

The good relations which prevail between the industry, the government and the public ... are probably unique in Australia. Only in Canberra do brothels organise well-attended public open-days (complete with barbeque) and host contemporary art shows ... (16)

It is likely, therefore, that this history helped to iron out issues that could have provoked much more controversy in some other parts of Australia, such as Victoria.

 

B.  Victoria (Legalization)

While some forms of prostitution have been permitted in Victoria since 1986, the sex industry is currently governed by the Prostitution Control Act, which came into force in 1995. (17) Some debate remains, however, over exactly what approach Victoria has chosen to take. While some commentators refer to the Prostitution Control Act as "decriminalisation with controls," (18) others suggest it more closely resembles legalization. (19) Regardless of the definition, it is clear that the government of the state of Victoria seeks to control the sex industry through legislation.

The government sets out a number of aims in the introduction to the Prostitution Control Act (1994). They include:

  1. to prevent the sexual exploitation of children as well as limit their exposure to the prostitution industry;
  2. to shield communities from the negative aspects associated with prostitution;
  3. to reduce criminal involvement in the running of the prostitution industry; and
  4. to safeguard the occupational health and safety of prostitutes while protecting their clients from any health risks.

Contrary to the situation in the ACT, however, questions have arisen from all sides about whether the Prostitution Control Act is actually meeting its goals. Critics have questioned the Act's ability to ensure that sex workers are provided with proper working conditions, as well as its capacity to shut down illegal brothels and escort agencies. (20)

 

In Victoria, individuals and businesses selling sexual services are required to be licensed. The licensing process is much more in-depth than registration in the ACT. The Business Licensing Authority requires prospective owners to submit to a police check and an assessment of their financial affairs. More generally, the Prostitution Control Act requires applicants (and their associates) to be "of good repute, having regard to character, honesty and integrity." These requirements are designed in part to prevent organized crime from infiltrating the prostitution industry. The government also hopes that licensing will prevent individuals from flouting the regulations set out by the Prostitution Control Act and the state's occupational health and safety code. (21) Sole operators and two-person brothels are exempt, and thus do not have to apply for a licence.

Some critics argue that Victoria's licensing system discourages prostitutes from setting up their own small brothels. The stringent licensing requirements are one deterrent. Another is the often-high costs of running a legal brothel or escort agency. (22) According to the Business Licensing Authority, the annual licensing fee for a brothel with more than two people starts at A$2,218.90 (approximately C$1,735). It costs prostitution service providers another A$416.10 (C$315) for each additional room. (23) All brothel owners must comply with specific regulations dealing with cleanliness and hygiene, as outlined in the Health (Infectious Diseases) Regulations.

Yet another critical factor in discouraging sex workers from starting their own businesses is the requirement for all brothels and escort agencies (whether large or small) to obtain a planning permit from their local city council. While city councils are not permitted to deny prospective owners a permit on moral grounds, they must follow the strict zoning requirements outlined in the Prostitution Control Act. Prostitution establishments are prohibited from operating in any residential neighbourhood and must be located more than 200 metres away from any school, hospital or place of worship. Prostitutes who live in residential areas are thus forbidden to establish a business in their own homes. Moreover, the strict limits attached to the planning permits tend to facilitate the development of large brothels at the expense of small ones.

Consequently, critics argue, legal prostitution in Victoria tends to be monopolized by large, expensive brothels. (24) For example, the Daily Planet in Melbourne operates a hotel-style facility with 18 rooms. Its management estimates that between 100 and 150 women work there regularly. (25)

Currently, an estimated 100 licensed brothels operate in Victoria. (26) Those unable or unwilling to work either in large or "exempt" legal brothels must risk significant criminal penalties by either running their own illegal brothel or engaging in street solicitation. (27)

Critics have also questioned Victoria's approach to prostitution in light of the seemingly uncontrollable expansion of illegal prostitution within its borders. Estimates in 2003 suggested that up to 400 illegal brothels were operating in the state. (28) Communities across the state have called upon the government to strengthen the Prostitution Control Act in the hope of cracking down on unlawful prostitution. (29) Street solicitation is also a major problem in Victoria.

The government of Victoria continues to grapple with how best to regulate, and ultimately control, the prostitution industry. While the Prostitution Control Act was designed to curb many of the most harmful aspects of prostitution (including street solicitation, criminal involvement in the trade, and risks to health and safety), it is not clear that the legislation has achieved its desired effect. Neither sex workers' rights groups nor community organizations have been particularly supportive of the law since its inception. Nevertheless, it does not appear that the state is planning to revamp its approach to prostitution in the near future. Rather, the government appears to be concentrating its efforts on enforcing the current provisions of the Act, in the hope of bringing about long-term social change.

New Zealand (Decriminalization)

In June 2003, New Zealand undertook radical reforms to its prostitution laws, decriminalizing adult prostitution by repealing a series of century-old laws prohibiting solicitation, operation of a brothel, and living off the avails of prostitution. The Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) (30) was introduced as a private member's bill following many years of debate, and passed in Parliament by only one vote (60 to 59, with one abstention). Before the bill was adopted, prostitution had not been illegal in New Zealand, but because of the various prohibitions, it had been almost impossible to sell sexual services and remain within the law.

Before adoption, the Prostitution Reform Bill had been referred to the New Zealand Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee, which held hearings in three major cities, heard evidence from relevant government ministries and police, and considered experiences from other jurisdictions, including Australia, that had decriminalized and legalized prostitution. The committee tabled a report in June 2003 recommending that the bill be passed with amendments. (31) The committee's report made it clear that the bill was "not intended to equate with the promotion of prostitution as an acceptable career option but instead to enable sex workers to have, and access, the same protections afforded to other workers." (32) As stated in section 3 of the PRA:

The purpose of this Act is to decriminalise prostitution (while not endorsing or morally sanctioning prostitution or its use) and to create a framework that -

  • safeguards the human rights of sex workers and protects them from exploitation;
  • promotes the welfare and occupational health and safety of sex workers;
  • is conducive to public health;
  • prohibits the use in prostitution of persons under 18 years of age; and
  • implements certain other related reforms.

 

The PRA was ultimately designed to stop the sex industry from going underground. The objective, in letting sex workers and prostitution establishments come out into the open, was to create safer and healthier environments for persons selling sexual services. As noted by Jan Jordan, who was commissioned by the New Zealand Ministry of Justice to review the literature on the sex industry,

[t]he campaign for law reform was supported by a highly diverse range of people, motivated by a desire to see a more equitable and practical solution. Many of those supporting the reform were clear that they were not condoning prostitution itself, but recognizing its current existence within society and the limitations and inadequacies of existing legislation. A harm minimisation approach was favoured by many, and the resultant legal changes sought to reflect such sentiments. (33)

 

In practice, the PRA tolerates street prostitution and allows independent sex workers to work in an unregulated environment. No "red light" districts were created. Indoors, the new law allows up to four independent individuals to operate from the same location without a licence, while more than four individuals, or those working for a third party, are regulated and must have a licence to operate. There are no restrictions on the number of people that can work for one operator. Operator certificates are granted and held by the Registrar of the Court, which ensures that the identity of operators remains confidential. (34)

The PRA placed significant responsibility for regulating brothels, including zoning, licensing and advertising, in the hands of local governments. (35) Local governments may regulate advertising through bylaws, based on considerations as to signage advertising prostitution is likely to cause nuisance or serious offence to the public using the area, or whether it is incompatible with the character of the area. (36) Local governments also retain the power to pass bylaws to control offensive behaviour, provided that such bylaws do not prohibit prostitution altogether.

Other generic laws regulating businesses are now applicable to the sex industry, with special provisions determining issues such as age limits and constraints on who can sell sexual services or own, finance, operate or manage a prostitution business. Small owner-operator brothels are managed under local government rules for small home businesses. Occupational health and safety codes have been expanded to include prostitution, and inspectors have the authority to enter a premises believed to be a prostitution business at any reasonable time to ensure compliance with the Health and Safety in Employment Act, and to ensure that the operation, prostitutes and clients have adopted safe sex practices. Such safe sex practices entail individuals involved taking all reasonable steps to ensure that condoms are used, and employers making free condoms accessible. Operators must also provide health information to persons selling sexual services and their clients. (37)

To combat exploitation, the PRA addresses the issue of trafficking in persons by denying immigration permits to anyone who intends to work in, invest in, or operate a business of prostitution in New Zealand or who does so while living in New Zealand on a temporary permit or limited purpose permit. (38) Penalties against exploitative practices, including harsh penalties for clients and operators surrounding the commercial exploitation of children, have also been strengthened. (39)

Since 2003, there have been many attempts to reverse these legislative changes. One anti-prostitution group sponsored a petition to repeal all of the Prostitution Reform Act, but fell short of the signatures needed to force a referendum on this issue in 2005. (40) Concern about the PRA comes primarily from groups who feel that decriminalization has led to a rise in prostitution in the country.

In an attempt to combat some of the effects of the PRA, some local governments in New Zealand have used their powers to strictly regulate the sex industry. Public pressure against allowing persons to sell sexual services out of their homes has resulted in the adoption of some regulations that make it difficult to set up small brothels in certain jurisdictions. In Auckland, a proposed bylaw to control prostitution does not distinguish between different sizes of brothels, thus subjecting prostitutes working from their homes to the more stringent limitations that are placed on large-scale brothels. In regulating the location of prostitution activities, local councils have also come under pressure from constituents who want to avoid the nuisance aspects of prostitution in their neighbourhoods. As a result, cities such as Aukland have chosen to restrict brothels to certain inner-city and industrial areas. Several cities have implemented regulations banning the location of prostitution establishments within the vicinity of schools, daycares, government buildings, and places of worship, as well as in residential areas. In some cities, these limitations have made it almost impossible to find a location where it would be legal to practice prostitution. This use of local regulatory power to essentially prohibit, or severely limit, prostitution has frustrated advocates of decriminalization, who see that the impact of the PRA has been seriously mitigated by such local controls.

As a way to effectively assess the impact of the legislation, sections 42 and 43 of the PRA required the Minister of Justice to appoint an 11-member Prostitution Law Review Committee made up of individuals nominated by the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective and the ministers of Justice, Women's and Youth Affairs, Health, Police, Commerce, and Local Government to review the PRA as soon as practicable after the Act came into force. That evaluation was released in May 2008 (41) and generally concluded that the effect of decriminalization had been positive thus far. The committee examined statistics, and concluded that, contrary to public opinion, there had been no dramatic change in the numbers of people involved in the sex industry since the PRA had come into force. The committee stated that street prostitution accounts for only 11% of prostitution in New Zealand, and that the only real complaints about street prostitution since 2003 emanated from Christchurch and Manukau, cities that are also dealing with a range of other social problems. The committee felt that, in these cases, the effects of street prostitution are best dealt with by proactive measures at the local level, through the local government, police and nongovernmental organizations.

Concerning exploitation, the committee found that 60% of sex workers felt that they had more power to refuse clients under the PRA than without it, and only 4% said they had been pressured into the sex industry by another person. The committee found that 1.3% of persons in the sex industry were under 18 years of age. This did not represent an increase in numbers, and the committee commented that the PRA had, in fact, managed to raise consciousness about sexual exploitation of children. The committee did not, however, find any significant improvement in employment conditions.

Regarding local government regulation of the sex industry, the committee noted that most local governments had not seen the need for significant regulation in their jurisdiction, and that many of those that had implemented regulations were simply being cautious, not responding to real issues. Cities that did implement severe regulations, such as Christchurch and Manukau, were most often responding to a wide range of social problems that were not necessarily related to prostitution. However, the committee expressed concern that some local governments had attempted to make single-owner-operated brothels move into the same commercial areas as larger brothels. The committee noted that such an arrangement is both impractical and even dangerous for sex workers and stated that single-owner-operated brothels should be regulated in the same way as other businesses run from the home. The committee pointed out that courts had struck down some bylaws, such as Auckland City Council's Brothels and Commercial Sex Premises Bylaw, which severely restricted locations where brothels could operate. Finally, the committee expressed concern that some onerous regulations that had been implemented at the local level under the Health Act and Local Government Act, such as high licensing fees and restrictive health and safety requirements, could force brothels underground. This would be contrary to the purpose of the PRA.

Ultimately, the committee's report concluded that despite some local frustrations with respect to street prostitution and the operation of single-owner-operated brothels in residential neighbourhoods, decriminalization of prostitution in New Zealand was working. Kinks were being smoothed out, and generally, prostitution and trafficking were not on the rise, sex workers were positive about low levels of exploitation, and awareness was growing about the sexual exploitation of children

Stargazer

Don't worry susan, you have supporters here. I hope you stay.

susan davis

tanx!!i will!i just did a great live interview on CTV newsnet!!!

love susie

Stargazer

Cool!! That is excellent news!

 

Edited: here is the link.

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20091006/prostitution_091...

 

How did these groups get legal standing?

The Catholic Civil Rights League of Canada, Christian Legal Fellowship and REAL Women of Canada, have been granted intervenor status in the case and will present their perspective on the issues before the court as well.

 

REAL women of Canada do not speak for the majority. Nice to see the company the anti-prostitution crowd keeps.

 

martin dufresne

Oh puhleeeze...

 

martin dufresne

Susan Davis writes: "so you, like martin refuse to acknowledge government of canada findings?"

The suggestion that the lengthy document that followed was "government of canada findings" is denied in the opening page of the full document: ...These studies are not official Parliamentary or Canadian government documents...

Hindle, Barnett and Casavant have interviewed self-alleged representatives of sex workers and transcribed their claims, but the fact that their report is entered on a Library of Parliament web site doesn't make it "Government of Canada findings".

 

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