Charter challenge launched against prostitution law

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Doug
Charter challenge launched against prostitution law

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/court-challenge-takes-on-se...

While sporadic attempts have been made over the years to chip away at aspects of prostitution law, the challenge is the first in two decades to aim for a broad sweep of its provisions. The women want the courts to strike down prohibitions against living off the avails of prostitution, communicating with potential clients and setting up brothels.

To succeed, the applicants must show that the laws amount to a “grossly disproportionate” infringement of the Charter right to life, liberty and security of the person.

 

Even in a narrow legal sense, this isn't an easy issue. I don't think justices at the Superior or Supreme Court level will see their way to throwing everything wide open by denying Parliament a role in regulating or restricting prostitution for many excellent reasons. However, the current legal status of prostitution in Canada is a strange one. It's legal to do except for the part where you communicate to make a deal. It's legal to live on the proceeds on your own sex work, but not of someone else's. While this rightly prohibits pimping, it also prevents sex workers from hiring security or renting a place to work in. It's a status that needs clarification and the country's politicians have yet to provide it.


Ghislaine

Given how past discussions of this topic have gone - should this be moved to the feminism forum?

Ghislaine

[url=http://www.ottawasun.com/comment/columnists/mindelle_jacobs/2009/10/06/1... Prostitution laws dead wrong [/url]

 

Surprisingly, a good op ed from the Ottawa Sun:

 

Quote:

 

 

From a political perspective, there's simply nothing to gain by wading into an issue so fraught with legal, social and moral complexities.

Revamping Canada's prostitution laws is not a vote-getter. There is no loud, large groundswell of support for decriminalizing prostitution and few people care about vulnerable sex trade workers.

It's getting increasingly harder to ignore the growing numbers of missing and murdered women, however. Hundreds have disappeared over the last three decades. Vigils like those held across Canada on the weekend have become annual events.

Yet there is no sign that the federal government has any intention of moving from sombre remembrance to political action to save women's lives.

Today in an Toronto courtroom, an Osgoode Hall law professor, a dominatrix and two sex trade workers are poised to launch a constitutional challenge of our prostitution legislation.

They contend that the laws banning bawdy houses, living on the avails and communicating for the purposes of prostitution are, in fact, exposing sex trade workers to violence and murder.

While Young's file of affidavits and other evidence is massive -- 88 volumes and about 30,000 pages of material -- his primary argument is simple. The negative impact of our prostitution laws (the epidemic of violence and murder of sex trade workers) is grossly disproportionate to the objective of protecting them and the community from prostitution.

That reality, argues Young, violates prostitutes' charter rights to liberty and security.

Michelle

Yes, I'll move it to the feminism forum.

martin dufresne

CBC story: A new coalition of women's groups in B.C. is hoping to head off what they see as an emerging trend to try to legalize prostitution.

The group, called the Abolition Coalition, cites two upcoming court cases that the group says will use the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to argue that prostitutes and their customers should be allowed to sell or buy sex for money.

One of those cases gets underway Tuesday in Ontario Superior Court in Toronto. The three women who launched the case are arguing the Criminal Code forces them to work in the streets and not in the safety of their homes.

"The parties involved in those court cases would have you believe, when it comes to the law, our choices are all or nothing: either we criminalize both women and johns and continue to enforce the law inconsistently, as now, or we decriminalize it entirely, and this is untrue," University of British Columbia law professor Janine Benedet told a Vancouver news conference Monday.

The Abolition Coalition's position is that prostitutes should never be criminally charged for selling sex, but the men who buy it should face harsh legal punishment.
(...)
Source

Ghislaine

martin dufresne wrote:

The Abolition Coalition's position is that prostitutes should never be criminally charged for selling sex, but the men who buy it should face harsh legal punishment.
(...)
Source

Well, how does this at all help the women who say they choose to work as sex workers? It still means they have no legal clients, martin.

And despite what the coalition of women groups says in the CBC story about not wanted to criminally charge prostitutes, they are sitting under a huge banner that read "International Day of No Prostitution" in the photo at your link.

This completely denies agency, choice and the right to control one's own body to women who are choosing sex trade work (one of whom has been kind enough to post here over the past few weeks and share her perspective).

susan davis susan davis's picture

i will be live on CTV 4 pm vancouver time....

Sex laws under attack


Sex laws under attack
By DHARM MAKWANA

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/News/natio...16566-sun.html

A constitutional challenge before Ontario courts to strike down federal prostitution laws has local advocates wading into the argument.

The case, slated to start today, argues the existing laws puts sex-trade workers at risk of violence.

In response, equality seeking women's groups launched the Abolition Coalition yesterday in downtown Vancouver, calling for the decriminalization of sex-trade workers and the criminalization of purchasing of sex - a model adopted in Sweden.

Prostitution is legal in Canada but most activities surrounding it are not.

"Either we criminalize both the women in prostitution and johns and pimps, and as we do now enforce the law inconsistently, or we decriminalize it entirely," said coalition member and UBC law professor Janine Benedet.

Susan Davis, a Vancouver sex-trade worker in favour of dropping the laws, submitted an affidavit for the case outlining the dangers she faced working on the street.

"We're not looking for special treatment, or carte blanche on brothels," she said.

Instead, Davis wants the sex trade to be subject to standards of transparency and ethical review under government oversight.

A similar charter challenge brought forward by Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society has stalled in B.C. Supreme Court.

martin dufresne

vancouver.24hrs.ca wrote: 

 

 "...Either we criminalize both the women in prostitution and johns and pimps, and as we do now enforce the law inconsistently, or we decriminalize it entirely," said coalition member and UBC law professor Janine Benedet.

 

Actually, as anyone familiar with this debate knows, this is a misquote of Benedet's and the Abolition Coalition's position. They have requested that the record be corrected.

 

The CBC story quoted them accurately:

"...The parties involved in those court cases would have you believe, when it comes to the law, our choices are all or nothing: either we criminalize both women and johns and continue to enforce the law inconsistently, as now, or we decriminalize it entirely, and this is untrue," University of British Columbia law professor Janine Benedet told a Vancouver news conference Monday.

The Abolition Coalition's position is that prostitutes should never be criminally charged for selling sex, but the men who buy it should face harsh legal punishment..."

 

 

just one of the...

There are feminists who support sex workers and believe it or not martin there are feminists and feminist groups who oppose the criminalization of johns. In fact, what a schock, there are feminists who are a-okay with trading sex, though some modern-day Puritans might not like it.
Look at who else is opposing this charter challenge, martin. "REAL" Women Canada and the Catholic League. Quite the company you keep

Caissa

If I was betting on this one, I would probably hamper a guess that the SCC will throw out 1 or all of these laws. This challenge seems well thought out and very clever.

Michelle

Okay, I know I've done it myself, but I'm resolving to do better in future, after yesterday's discussions.  Let's not label each other "puritans" or imply that babblers are in league with anti-progressive groups simply because of their position on this issue.  It's a rhetorical device that just leads to flaming.

I know there's a fine line here, and that people should be able to talk about the similarities between the positions of anti-progressive organizations and some feminist groups.  I think we can do this, however, without claiming that people are "keeping company" with repugnant groups when we know that this is not really true.

Stargazer

I'm not sure how this is to be done Michelle. What are we allowed to say? What would be the appropraite way to state that the positions held by someone is akin to those held by anti-progressives? Or is that not allowed. I'm just confused here.

Michelle

Well, think about it this way.  You think that sex work should be legal and so do I.  So do human traffickers.  Therefore, look who we're keeping company with.  Human traffickers.

See how it works?  It's a smear.

Michelle

Martin doesn't agree with R.E.A.L. women and other right-wing Christian organizations on the REASON it should be illegal.  He doesn't agree with them about what should be done about prostitution.  But because he does not want this legal challenge to succeed, and neither does R.E.A.L. Women, he's "keeping company" with them?

No, he's not, and it's kind of a dishonest debating tactic to claim that he is.

I'm not saying that the same kind of smearing hasn't been done by the anti-legalization folks here on babble.  It has.  I just think that, in the spirit of trying not to demonize our opponents on the issue, it might be a good idea to not smear each other.

Ghislaine

Exactly Michelle.  It is comparable to the section 13 debate, where people were accused of keeping company with Ezra Levant.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Well, think about it this way.  You think that sex work should be legal and so do I.  So do human traffickers.  Therefore, look who we're keeping company with.  Human traffickers.

 

And, I'm told, liberals. Not the Canadian political party, but liberals... anyone who puts individual liberties ahead of harsh laws and such.

 

Quote:
See how it works?  It's a smear.

 

That's exactly what I thought the first ten or twenty times it was implied.

Stargazer

Actually I haven't formed a real opinion on this. I do, however, think it is important to keep Susan here at babble, and I don't think that attacking her real life experience, as sex worker, is the right thing to do, especially by someone who is not a sex worker. I think I'd like to hear the voices of women who chose this industry and what they have to say, how they feel and what they think would better their working conditions.

 

Oh, was that implied 10 or 20 times Snert? Funny, I thought it was twice.

Snert Snert's picture

Perhaps.  I'm glad you noticed too, though.

martin dufresne

Janine Benedet
Legalization wouldn't make prostitutes safe
The violence in prostitution comes not from the law, but from male pimps and
buyers
The Globe & Mail - Opinions, Wed. October 7, 2009

 

Supporters of the prostitution industry want us to believe that women would
be safe if men's purchase of women for sex is legalized. In the name of
women's security, they are arguing in an Ontario court this week that male
johns and pimps have a constitutional right to buy and sell women. They are
claiming that prostitution is women's work and that legalizing it would
advance women's liberty. Opposition is dismissed as based on "moral panic."
A closer look at the violent reality of prostitution exposes the utter
fallacy of these claims. (...)

 

Full Op-Ed here

martin dufresne

Stargazer wrote: "I don't think that attacking her real life experience, as sex worker, is the right thing to do"

You are clearly suggesting I did. Please provide a quote. Failing this, a nice word of apology will do. Kiss

martin dufresne

And, I'm told, liberals. Not the Canadian political party, but liberals... anyone who puts individual liberties ahead of harsh laws and such.

 

Snert, are you assuming that ALL liberals are hostile to laws against profiting from the sale of someone else's body? Can you agree that there would be no such thing as individual liberties without legislation ("harsh" as it needs to be) to protect them?

Stargazer

Okay then Martin, I'll use a different word. How about, "I don't think co-opting her voice, as the lone sex worker on this board, is a good thing to do?" Or how about drowning out her voice? Sorry for using the word "attacking".

martin dufresne

Sorry, but no cigar. Neither accusation is accurate. I am certainly not coopting her voice - we are on opposite sides of the debate. And Susan has posted way more volume than me on this issue. Please get off my case or take it to the mods, Stagazer.

Stargazer

The difference being that you are not a sex worker, she is. And there is no chance I will do anymore grovelling. If the mods decide I need a "break" then that's fine. But no grovelling.

 

 

martin dufresne

A non sequitur. And actually, according the wide and vague definition given to that notion by our local sex workers org (Stella), I am a sex worker, since their definition includes people sympathetic to their issues. So why not shelf these haphazard ad hominem arguments and accept that everyone is both entitled and challenged to rise to collective responsibility on this issue, accepting guidance from the people who have or have had direct experience in prostitution and/or supporting prostituted people.

Unionist

I'm of two minds about the issue of legalization/decriminalization - but I'm of one mind when it comes to the role of religious and anti-womens'-rights groups in deciding the law on this question. We have [url=another">http://rabble.ca/babble/feminism/religious-groups-seek-standing-oppose-f... open thread[/url] on that issue, and I thought I'd just remind babblers of the [url=Ontario">http://rabble.ca/babble/feminism/religious-groups-seek-standing-oppose-f... Court of Appeal decision[/url], wherein it granted standing to the Christian Legal Fellowship, REAL Women of Canada and the Catholic Civil Rights League, on the grounds that:

Quote:

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.

In the other thread, babblers were debating whether or not this decision was a good thing.

 

martin dufresne

Just to be clear Unionist: I am sure you will agree that people who make submissions to the Courts - on whatever grounds - have no role in deciding the law in question. That would be a grievous mistake indeed. But should they be silenced if their morality doesn't always jive with ours? Would you bar a faith-based pacifist group from hearings about the militarization of Canada, for instance? I hope not.

Stargazer

I read through all of susan's posts (thanks unionist) and while I agree that defining strip club owners, massge parlour owners etc. as stakeholders is problematic, I also noted that susan talked about having those policed by an overall agency. I think there is much hope in what she has put forward. These parlours etc. are already unregulated and often the workers are exploited. Why not have a central agency that can be counted on to get at those companies who use women non consensually, or exploit or harm them in any way? It really is not up to you or I. It is up to the women themselves to determine what they want. I think if there is a large consensus among sex workers that this is the way to go then we should respect that and hope that they are more than capable of determining for themselves what is right and what isn't for them.

The probem I am having with those against this challenge by Alan Young is the idea that women in the sex trade are not capable of making their own informed decisions. They certainly are when given the right tools and I think the ideas that susan has shared with us allow for that to happen. Prostitution is not going away anytime soon. No amount of wishing it were is going to make it happen. The field should be safe for women and I see susan's cause as advancing that agenda.

Susan, I have a question. How will an agency deal with traffickers and other people who are clearly exploiting women? Who will investigate? Who will determine what should be done? I would not want to see unethical and exploitive business owners policing themselves or others. Could you elaborate a bit on this part? I know there is a lot to be worked out but this is a definite concern.

In regards to REAL woman and the Church having standing, I do not agree. Their cause has nothing to do with the protection of women, It is about morality. Full stop.

 

 

 

martin dufresne

Contestation à la Cour supérieure de l'Ontario : la décriminalisation TOTALE ne rend pas la prostitution plus sécuritaire

Montréal, le 06 octobre 2009 - La Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle - CLES - s'inquiète de la contestation du Code criminel à la Cour supérieure de l'Ontario qui pourrait conduire à la décriminalisation totale de la prostitution y compris du proxénétisme. En fait, une décision en faveur des demandeuses aurait pour effet l'augmentation de la violence envers les femmes dont celles qui sont dans la prostitution.

Depuis plus d'un an des survivantes de la prostitution qui ont été exposées à la violence tant dans les rues qu'à l'intérieur de bordels ou de bars sont engagées à la CLES. Elles sont convaincues qu'il est faux d'affirmer que la décriminalisation TOTALE conduira à une meilleure qualité de vie pour les femmes. Dans les faits toute décriminalisation est suivie d'une série de règlements et de lois qui ont des effets pervers. Les proxénètes deviennent des hommes d'affaire comme les autres, les clients prostitueurs sont légitimés et les femmes sont davantage victimes de violence, de traite, d'abus. Dans de tels cas des études montrent que l'industrie du sexe et le tourisme sexuel (pour des adultes et des mineurEs) connaissent une expansion. Tout se met en place pour répondre à la logique de marché : fournir toujours plus de corps de femmes à des coûts moindres.

C'est aujourd'hui le cas notamment en Hollande où le gouvernement a perdu le contrôle et se voit obliger de fermer plusieurs zones du Red Light.

La prostitution est une violence envers toutes les femmes et la décriminalisation TOTALE rendrait légitime la marchandisation du corps des femmes.

Ensemble - femmes survivantes de multiples violences - nous disons OUI à la décriminalisation des personnes prostituées et NON à la décriminalisation de ceux qui tirent profit de la prostitution : les clients et les proxénètes ! NON à la marchandisation du corps des femmes !

(Just released by Quebec's Concertation des luttes contre l'exploitation sexuelle, an organization that includes many survivors of prostitution, some active and some not in the industry)

Stargazer

That's great Martin but unfortunately, I lost all of my French ability quite some time ago.

 

I hope susan comes back to answer my questions.

Unionist

martin dufresne wrote:

Just to be clear Unionist: I am sure you will agree that people who make submissions to the Courts - on whatever grounds - have no role in deciding the law in question.

What are you talking about? Of course they will have a role, just as lawyers making submissions do. The Court will interpret the statutes and the Charter, and its decision will be "the law", as that term is used. Anything the Court hears will obviously play a role in the Court's decision (whether the Court accepts or rejects those submissions). Otherwise, these groups would not be allowed to make submissions in the first place. Are you allowed to make submissions there? Is my local union? How about the NDP? Clearly not. Nor should these groups.

Quote:
But should they be silenced if their morality doesn't always jive with ours?

No, they should be barred from making submissions for the precise reason that the Ontario Superior Court said.

Quote:
Would you bar a faith-based pacifist group from hearings about the militarization of Canada, for instance? I hope not.

What kind of "hearings"? Judicial ones which can make law? Or an inquiry? And barred from what - attending, or speaking? And what about the local branch of Soldiers of Fortune subscribers? I don't understand you at all. This isn't about "morality". It is about the rights and equality and abuse of women. The court should look at the law in the light of the Charter and decide accordingly. It should NOT look at the Bible or listen to organizations that don't adhere to the equality of men and women as enshrined in the Charter.

ETA: [url=Here">http://www.canlii.org/en/on/onsc/doc/2009/2009canlii33518/2009canlii3351... is the full decision[/url] of Justice Matlow of Superior Court, which was later overturned by Court of Appeal. Worth reading IMO.

 

martin dufresne

Actually, if you bothered reading the arguments put forward by these groups, you would find that they are nothing like the travesty you are painting. For instance:
(...)As legal arguments continue into a challenge of Canada's prostitution laws, those who oppose the sex trade say the current laws are actually the best way to protect prostitutes.
Joanne McGarry of the Catholic Civil Rights League, one of the groups that has been granted the right to legally intervene in the case, says effectively decriminalizing prostitution would not end violence against prostitutes.
"There are risks inherent to the occupation that don't relate to whether it's legal or illegal," McGarry told Canada AM Wednesday.
"In a certain percentage of cases, there will always be people attracted to prostitution for the purpose of dealing harm. I think the laws we have now provide the police with some means for reducing that harm."(...)

Source

I still think being heard on an issue is NOT deciding it, and that this distinction is key.

As for morality, am I right in understanding that you are affirming an absolute disconect between it and law? I think that is inaccurate. Both in theory and in people's choices, morality is the basis of our relationship to others and to society. Women's rights such as that to abortion were won by people who put their morality above their self-interest, such as Dr. Tiller, Dr. Morgentaler and thousands of feminist and profeminist activists. When all that is at stake is applying the law, morality doesn't enter the picture. But when law is to be reformed or even interpreted, courts and lawmakers have always had to look at its underlying principles. Even equality between women and men is a moral issue and conviction, before it is implemented in policy. So this aspect of the debate and all positions in it cannot be silenced without losing sight of what is at stake.

I have been fighting the Right since longer than I care to remember but I have never believed that shutting them out of the picture was fair or even advisable. Better push them into the limelight and slice-and-dice their arguments.

Stargazer

Sorry Martin, there is not a chnce in hell that REAL Women of Canada are "nothing like the travesty you are painting". Ditto the Catholic Church.

Unionist

martin dufresne wrote:
Actually, if you bothered reading the arguments put forward by these groups,

... I would be a still poorer person than I am today.

Quote:
I still think being heard on an issue is NOT deciding it, and that this distinction is key.

Oh, I agree, but don't you have a serious problem with these misogynist nutbars being given some special status to speak to the Court, as if society has some legitimate need to hear from them on an issue involving the rights and freedoms of women? I do.

Quote:
As for morality, am I right in understanding that you are affirming an absolute disconect between it and law?

No, absolutely not. I never affirmed such a thing and I do not do so now. I just believe that society's morality is established through people's struggles for rights and equality and against oppression - and one a right has been won at least on paper (the right of women to equality and to control of their persons), our courts should not revisit some wingnut's "moral" arguments in order to call those rights into question. I find that exceedingly dangerous, because it calls into question whether that right has been seriously won even in theoretical terms.

Quote:
Both in theory and in people's choices, morality is the basis of our relationship to others and to society.

Oh, I can't agree with that at all. Morality is the consequence of our relationship to others and to society. That's why a worker's sense of right and wrong, on particular issues, can vary very legitimately from an employer's (for example). That difference is not the starting point of their relationship, but rather the outcome.

Quote:
Women's rights such as that to abortion were won by people who put their morality above their self-interest, such as Dr. Tiller, Dr. Morgentaler and thousands of feminist and profeminist activists.

I don't even agree one tiny bit with that statement. Women's rights to abortion were won by an entire social movement that gave rise to leaders, spokespersons, and self-sacrificial representatives. It is futile to try to find an individual common thread between all those persons. It is the evolution of society which itself drove the need for enhancing the freedom and equality of women, and gave birth to a movement to accomplish those aims. It has nothing to do with any abstract sense of morality. No one 500 years ago thought it was "morally right" to allow women to abort foetuses. And one day soon, no one will think it is wrong. It isn't people's "morality" which drove this change.

Quote:
Even equality between women and men is a moral issue and conviction, before it is implemented in policy.

That's ahistorical and takes no account of difference in power relationships in a given society at a given phase. Morality is the result, not the cause, of these great upheavals in our society. It is the codification of social and political change into a "thou shalt and thou shalt not" code of behaviour. And when society changes, the code inevitably follows. Not the other way around.

Quote:
I have been fighting the Right since longer than I care to remember but I have never believed that shutting them out of the picture was fair or even advisable. Better push them into the limelight and slice-and-dice their arguments.

I didn't say "shut them out". I said, once we've made an advance, don't look back. No more free votes on same sex marriage. No revisiting whether women should serve on juries in Québec. No debates on capital punishment. On to the next challenge.

 

Stargazer

It isn't just a matter of being uncomfortable. I absolutely DESPISE those organizations and I really do not care if they quote the bible or not, we know exactly what they are doing, and why, and it isn't to benefit women, it is to try to roll back what we have. I cannot stand in solidarity with them on that issue, even if I passionately disagreed with prostitution.

It makes me extremely angry that anti women's groups, like the catholic church and these so-called REAL women, get standing and are even being considered as having something to say that does not reference morality. You know as well as I do that there is no need to quote from the bible when you think you have the lord of your side.

BTW, I am currently on fire. I'll brb after I put it out.

 

 

martin dufresne

I hear you. Call me a closet liberal, but I have as much problems with people who think thay have god on their side as I do with those who think they do so with Truth or History's Meaning (wink wink nudge nudge to fellow materialists). I am an agnostic on all counts and have seen too many advances rolled back to believe we can simply deem them scientifically unacceptable and shut out from discussion the moral dimension we need to keep the fires burning under the minions of oppression, even the "sexy" kind.

BTW, not to encourage thread drift, but strangely enough, the French Minister of Culture, Frederic Mitterand, is in trouble these days for a candid autobiography ("The Bad Life") where he wrote of his personal enthusiasm for sex with children in SouthEast Asia. And strangely enough, he is being taken on both by the RW Front National and the Socialist Party. The book was published 4 years ago, but these revelations were made an issue when Mitterand took a strong stand in support of colleague child rapist Polanski.

Another good news is that Berlusconi's immunity has been thrown out of court today, so he too is going to have to answer for his dalliances as a john.

I tell you, what is this world coming to if men of power are disallowed to use it!?

martin dufresne

Answering Stargazer about Real Women of Canada: Well, don't take my word for it, read their Statement on Prostitution and look for a reference to the Bible. I hate Real Women of Canada and disagree with their prohibitionist proposal, but I can acknowledge (without bursting into flames) that most of those arguments are evidence-based. Many others are platitudes that are to be resisted but not a single one is religious.

Beside the theoretical argument about morality in law (above), it just seems to me that we have a strong enough case without needing to shut out of the public sphere people and organizations we are uncomfortable with or opposed to.

Unionist

Martin, answer my last post while Stargazer extinguishes her fire, please.

 

susan davis susan davis's picture

Stargazer wrote:

I read through all of susan's posts (thanks unionist) and while I agree that defining strip club owners, massge parlour owners etc. as stakeholders is problematic, I also noted that susan talked about having those policed by an overall agency. I think there is much hope in what she has put forward. These parlours etc. are already unregulated and often the workers are exploited. Why not have a central agency that can be counted on to get at those companies who use women non consensually, or exploit or harm them in any way? It really is not up to you or I. It is up to the women themselves to determine what they want. I think if there is a large consensus among sex workers that this is the way to go then we should respect that and hope that they are more than capable of determining for themselves what is right and what isn't for them.
The probem I am having with those against this challenge by Alan Young is the idea that women in the sex trade are not capable of making their own informed decisions. They certainly are when given the right tools and I think the ideas that susan has shared with us allow for that to happen. Prostitution is not going away anytime soon. No amount of wishing it were is going to make it happen. The field should be safe for women and I see susan's cause as advancing that agenda.
Susan, I have a question. How will an agency deal with traffickers and other people who are clearly exploiting women? Who will investigate? Who will determine what should be done? I would not want to see unethical and exploitive business owners policing themselves or others. Could you elaborate a bit on this part? I know there is a lot to be worked out but this is a definite concern.
In regards to REAL woman and the Church having standing, I do not agree. Their cause has nothing to do with the protection of women, It is about morality. Full stop.
  


no problem! a sex industry review board or government oversight committee as it's becoming known would potentially be made up of criminal justice, government- most likely municipal, health, and sex industry stakeholders...so not actually policing ourselves but sort of.
we would be included in decisions such as approving/scrutinizing license applications. currently a worker with a criminal record cannot obtain a license, you are condemned to work outside. instead for instance if a worker's criminal record was 20 years old for instance or related to sex work we may consider issuing a license in order to support choices for a worker. also, workers may know about a particular business operating outside of acceptable business practices but it may not be known to police.
workers may be able to give input asto potenially unscrupulous business owners and prevent them from being given an opprtunity to exploit people. also, sex industry community members such as consumers could report or complain about dangerous conditions and identify unethical businesses. tricks see everything and could be very valuable in identifying trafficking victims.
also, oversight committees could act as a resource for planning actions or policies and procedures for raids etc. in vancouver, VPD took no translators, no support services and pointed guns at people supposedly being rescued as victims of a crime???not exactly building trust or supporting victims. we are working with VPD and we are seeing movement away from punishment and towards protection. it's awesome and working well so far!!
so, i am not exactly sure what oversight committee terms or mandate will be but feel as a group including all stakeholders we will find common ground and work towards stability and safety for people....if all aprties are willingie/government,police services,etc.

remind remind's picture

Excellent news Martin.

Unionist, if there was a panel going on about taking charity status away from the churches and dinging them with taxes, I would want an athiest group, and unions to give evidence  to the court holding it, that it is unfair, morally wrong for them to have it and discriminatory.  :D

 

martin dufresne

Questions from Unionist:

 

...don't you have a serious problem with these misogynist nutbars being given some special status to speak to the Court

It's not special status. One either has status to intervene or not.

 

Re: the disconnect. I never affirmed such a thing and I do not do so now.

Good.

 

I just believe that society's morality is established through people's struggles for rights and equality and against oppression

Society's yes. Individuals, it's more complicated... and differentiated according to a lot of factors.

 

- and one a right has been won at least on paper (the right of women to equality and to control of their persons), our courts should not revisit some wingnut's "moral" arguments in order to call those rights into question. I find that exceedingly dangerous, because it calls into question whether that right has been seriously won even in theoretical terms.

Well were it so simple, I would certainly be onside. But you know full well that Conservatives are constantly trying to devolve those rights and simply stating they are wingnuts and they shouldn't doesn't cut it.

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Both in theory and in people's choices, morality is the basis of our relationship to others and to society.

Oh, I can't agree with that at all. Morality is the consequence of our relationship to others and to society. That's why a worker's sense of right and wrong, on particular issues, can vary very legitimately from an employer's (for example). That difference is not the starting point of their relationship, but rather the outcome.

I wrote basis, not starting point. Maybe I should have used a textile metaphor, like warp. Even acknowledging morality as consequence - as we materialists do - can still leave place for acnowledging it as central to people's world-view.

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Women's rights such as that to abortion were won by people who put their morality above their self-interest, such as Dr. Tiller, Dr. Morgentaler and thousands of feminist and profeminist activists.

I don't even agree one tiny bit with that statement. Women's rights to abortion were won by an entire social movement that gave rise to leaders, spokespersons, and self-sacrificial representatives. It is futile to try to find an individual common thread between all those persons. It is the evolution of society which itself drove the need for enhancing the freedom and equality of women, and gave birth to a movement to accomplish those aims. It has nothing to do with any abstract sense of morality. No one 500 years ago thought it was "morally right" to allow women to abort foetuses. And one day soon, no one will think it is wrong. It isn't people's "morality" which drove this change.

I understand that macro perspective; I just don't think it excludes the micro perspective of individuals who do feel that they make moral choices and have to struggle against people with different moralities.

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Even equality between women and men is a moral issue and conviction, before it is implemented in policy.

That's ahistorical and takes no account of difference in power relationships in a given society at a given phase. Morality is the result, not the cause, of these great upheavals in our society.

Can't it be both?

It is the codification of social and political change into a "thou shalt and thou shalt not" code of behaviour. And when society changes, the code inevitably follows.

Were it so simple! But politics can be read as a conflict between groups each of whom has its code and tries to impose it. Pace Marx and Engels, there is no homogeneous scientific train of progress changing reality for everyone with no rollback.

 

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I have been fighting the Right since longer than I care to remember but I have never believed that shutting them out of the picture was fair or even advisable. Better push them into the limelight and slice-and-dice their arguments.

I didn't say "shut them out". I said, once we've made an advance, don't look back. No more free votes on same sex marriage. No revisiting whether women should serve on juries in Québec. No debates on capital punishment.

Nice work if you can get it...

Unionist

Actually, martin (and remind), on reviewing this, I don't disagree with your views as much as I thought I did. So I'm going to stand back a bit now (remembering this is the FF after all) and hope to hear more from susan, Stargazer, remind, Ghislaine, just one of the concerned, Michelle, martin (whoops!), etc.

remind remind's picture

unionist/martin wrote:
No one 500 years ago thought it was "morally right" to allow women to abort foetuses. And one day soon, no one will think it is wrong. It isn't people's "morality" which drove this change.

I understand that macro perspective; I just don't think it excludes the micro perspective of individuals who do feel that they make moral choices and have to struggle against people with different moralities.

Some points of clarification:

Women were not given the right to be allowed to abort, women took the right to have control of our bodies, to do with what we choose, just as men have always had.

It is shameful that we had to get a court ruling to prove it, and that it only happened 21 years ago.

Many women have certainly practised, in secret, the right to conrol their own bodies, for more than 500 years, knowing that it was their moral right to do so. That others held a different morality, that was/is based upon inequality, was what had to be fought against to bring it to the equity point where it is today.

And there are still those who believe that women should still be owned subjects of the state, or religion, and forced to give their bodies into the service of it/them.

Ignoring them is not the correct thing to do, discharging their power, by having their viewpoints disregarded by the court is a powerful social statement, that will give them serious setbacks, leading to an complete understanding by a super majority of society, who will finally get that women are equal to men and what that actually means and presents.

Historically it benefitted men to set what "morality" they wanted to be in place, in order to keep women as chattel property, and that of their off spring too. Seeing as how they were only 50% of the population they had to co-opt a certain segment of the women's population numbers to their 'cause' in order to hold sway. Religion did this effectively in a number of ways.

Nowadays, patriarchy has lessened, so to have a majority who able to impose their "morality", they  need more women to believe they are unequal, or to re-capture the loss of male solidarity. And never ever discount the fact that they are trying to that constantly, in a myriad of ways.

We ignore them at our own peril. Better to blunt them by exposing them to the light of the law.

 

 

 

 

 

susan davis susan davis's picture

here here remind!!

Ghislaine

wow, martin. that is absolutely disgusting about the French culture minister. Why would he even write about it in a non-apolegetic way? /end drift

I lean fairly civil libertarian, so I approach this issue from that perspective. I find prostitution disgusting and morally wrong personally, but there are alot of things that I find disgusting and morally wrong personally but would strongly disagree with being criminalized. I think whether you personally find it morally wrong or not is completely irrelevant (and REAL and church groups etc. are even more irrelevant to the case).  I am totally against victimless acts being criminal. Some may argue that prostituted women are being victimized. I would respond (as others have) that there needs to be strong regulation and enforcement of trafficking, underage prostitution, sexual slavery, rape, violence, etc., etc.

Consenting adults should have the right to do as they wish in a free society - if they aren't harming anyone else's freedom or security. This includes the right to harm themselves. It does not matter that I  think on a theoretical and moral level that prostitution is harmful for someone emotionally, physcially, etc. and that if they were my friend or family I would encourage a difference choice of profession. It does matter that I am disgusted by men using their money to have this power. It is not for me or any of us to impose our beliefs on someone else. Our duty as society is to use the law to protect people from infringements on their rights. A consenting prostitute and a consenting client are not infringing on anyone's rights.

I do have a question for the more socialist or communist posters here. The right to prostitution seems like it would be mainly a phenomenon in a society tht allows personal wealth. Would it occur at all someplace like Cuba? Obviously it would not be a profession per se, unless done in addition to the profession given to someone. I am wondering if anyone knows anything about its existence there?

Michelle

Black markets occur everywhere, and definitely in Cuba, so I would assume there are probably prostitutes in Cuba.

RosaL

Ghislaine wrote:

I do have a question for the more socialist or communist posters here. The right to prostitution seems like it would be mainly a phenomenon in a society tht allows personal wealth. Would it occur at all someplace like Cuba? Obviously it would not be a profession per se, unless done in addition to the profession given to someone. I am wondering if anyone knows anything about its existence there?

 

What do you mean, "would it occur"? Do you mean "would it exist" or "should it (according to socialist belief/theory) exist in a socialist society"? (If you mean the second, I suggest you google the topic. There are quite a few things that can't be discussed here - this is one of them.)

Ghislaine

I guess I meant both, Rosa. I originally meant "does it exist" - given that there aren't men with the disposable income that they have here. But I guess, I am also curious about if it should.

Snert Snert's picture

Google "prostitution Cuba".  There's prostitution in Cuba.

RosaL

Ghislaine wrote:

I guess I meant both, Rosa. I originally meant "does it exist" - given that there aren't men with the disposable income that they have here. But I guess, I am also curious about if it should.

 

It does, and the tourist industry has a lot to do with that. The question of "should it" would be interesting to discuss but I don't think this is the place to do it Wink

Ghislaine

You are right Rosa...I guess I don't need to cause any more thread drift! It would be interesting to know how much it existed prior to Western tourism.

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