Charter challenge launched against prostitution law

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Doug

Ghislaine wrote:
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?

It certainly does exist in Cuba. Friends of mine had an amusing time trying to explain they didn't want the prostitutes on offer. It's a little bit of a different situation from street prostitution here, though. Unless they've a drug habit to supply too, they're not doing it out of the need to pay rent or buy food. It's to obtain the small luxuries you can only get in Cuba with access to dollars.

martin dufresne

Ah yes, Cubans are so affluent that any money First World sex tourists give youths and women in exchange for sex is merely spent on small luxuries... What a patronizing, infantilizing, deresponsabilizing attitude! Maybe we ought to talk about "sex tourists" (capitalist rapists) themselves  instead of keeping the conversation carefully focussed on women and why oh why do they do it and yes, of course, we must respect their choice to buy little gee-gaws if they want that, big children as they are...

This press release just out from Montreal's CLES about the current Charter challenge in Ontario:

Ontario Superior Court Challenge: Total decriminalization of prostitution is not the solution, says Montreal abolitionist group

Montreal, October 06, 2009 - The Coalition for Struggles Against Sexual Exploitation - CLES - is concerned by the increased violence against women involved in prostitution that could follow from invaliding all Canadian Criminal Code restrictions on prostitution.

CLES includes female survivors of prostitution, women who have been exposed to violence both on the street and behind the doors of brothels and bars. After a year of working together on these issues, CLES is convinced that it is false to affirm that TOTAL decriminalization - including immunity for johns and pimps - would improve women's quality of life. In fact, it has been demonstrated in other jurisdictions that across-the-board decriminalization is usually followed by the adoption of a gamut of regulations and laws that have a number of harmful consequences. Pimps are transformed into mere "business men", clients become legitimate "consumers", and women become more exposed to victimization through physical abuse, trafficking and other forms of abuse.

Where full decriminalization has been attempted, reputable studies have shown that the
sex industry and sexual tourism expand and that society evolves according to a market model, providing ever more women's bodies at ever lower cost for buyers. This specifically happened in The Netherlands, where the government totally lost control over the situation and is now attempting to close down most of Amsterdam's red-light district, taken over by organized crime.

CLES feels that prostitution is violence against all women and that total decriminalization will only legitimate the commoditization of women's bodies.

"Together - female survivors of multiple types of violence -, we say YES to decriminalizing the persons exploited in prostitution and NO to decriminalizing the people who profit from their prostitution: the clients and the pimps. No to the commoditization of women bodies!"

- 30 -

For more information, please contact: Axelle Beniey, Communications Officer, Coalition for Struggles Against Sexual Exploitation (CLES)
514-750-4535
info@lacles.org
http://www.lacles.org

 

 

remind remind's picture

Quote:
What a patronizing, infantilizing, deresponsabilizing attitude! Maybe we ought to talk about "sex tourists" (capitalist rapists) themselves  instead of keeping the conversation carefully focussed on women and why oh why do they do it and yes, of course, we must respect their choice to buy little gee-gaws if they want that, big children as they are...

Thanks for naming this martin!

just one of the...

I apologize if i hurt anyone's feelings but it is important that everyone know exactly who has filed the lawsuit (sex workers) and who is bankrolling the challenge.  I am no longer in this industry but am still hot about it. I am sorry
In return, I would ask martin, politely, to stop appropriating sex workers' voices. Is it really too much to ask for him to stop calling sex workers "prostituted people," to stop appropriating testimony, and to stop insinuating that sex workers, that's right SEX WORKERS are victims, or trafficked? How do you think it feels to be made to feel like damaged goods by another name?
And stop calling yourself a sex worker because Stella is a group you despise, because they support legal sex work and you have said so on record here.

just one of the...

Seriously. Sex workers do not self-identify as "prostituted people" can we at least refrain from using that term in this forum???

martin dufresne

Conversely, none of the prostituted women (present and former prostituées, passive tense of the verb prostituer) that work at CLES, or that the organization has met and interviewed for its upcoming documentary The Oldest Lie  identifies with the term sex worker ("travailleuse du sexe"). They apparently shun like the plague this essentialist identity. So please avoid shoehorning them and me into using nothing but a label that includes - in Montreal, at least - part of their exploiters. Thank you.

 

Stargazer

Wow martin, that was not fair at all to just one.... She did not deserve that response. I'm being non snarky and serious here. This is the feminist forum. I realize that you are a feminist, but you are not a woman, and definitely not a sex worker. You talked right over just one..that isn't cool at all.  It doesn't help anyone and it sure feels incredibly condescening.

I'm just saying please, could you perhaps respect some of the sex workers in here with the respect they have shown you and us for sharing their voices with us? I cannot possibly see that response to just one... as constructive. I don't think they should feel threatened (in any emotional way) and should feel free to post here, as it their bodies and their lives here being discussed, not just abstracts.

I am not meaning this as an attack, just some contructive advice.

Infosaturated

just one of the concerned wrote:

Seriously. Sex workers do not self-identify as "prostituted people" can we at least refrain from using that term in this forum???

Does "prostitute" and "sex worker" mean exactly the same thing?  I thought it was more of an umbrella term.

Michelle

If one of those former sex workers comes to babble and asks us to start calling them "prostituted people" then we will consider that.  Until then, I'm not going to demand that people adopt one term over the other since I think this is one of those issues where feminists on both sides of the issue use terminology that they feel is most descriptive of their position. 

But I also think that outright dismissal of the requests of people directly involved in sex work when it comes to terminology they prefer is not okay.

I think writer mentioned this a couple of weeks ago before she left (wish she'd come back!) - babble is an open forum, and anyone can (and does) join.  All women, including women who have left the sex trade and share Martin's opinion, are welcome to come here and discuss this issue.  Men are welcome to discuss it too.  But male voices, even ones claiming to speak for women they know who aren't here to speak for themselves, will not be privileged above the voices of women who have direct experience and involvement in this industry. 

I would like the women who are sharing their experiences with us to be respected.

Infosaturated

just one of the concerned wrote:

I apologize if i hurt anyone's feelings but it is important that everyone know exactly who has filed the lawsuit (sex workers) and who is bankrolling the challenge.

Why? Shouldn't the arguments being presented be the deciding factor rather than who is making them?

For example, if Harper proposes expanding the size of an enviromentally protected area I am not going to fight him on it just because I can't stand Harper or the Conservatives.

Michelle

P.S. My apologies for having used the wrong terminology in this thread earlier, I think before I'd read Susan's post in another thread requesting that we use terminology that is not so problematic.  I will do my best to remember, and please feel free to call me on it if I don't.

just one of the...

Michelle I hope it didnt seem that I was calling for you to force everyone what to say as a moderater. And there is no "official" terminology. I just think some terms are rude such as that one, and asking if we could refrain from calling people names they don't call themselves

Stargazer

Because Info... if things are left to a majority to decide, we don't get to advance as a society, as seen by the many states currently using their will to discriminate freely against the GLTB community in regards to marriage (and almost every other aspect of their lives). 

 

 

remind remind's picture

There are many, many stated  positions, by sex workers, who consider themselves prostituted  people, in the documentation that Martin has provided, that clearly indicate what he stated is factual. There are even links to activists who were former sex workers that he has provided.

These are all well worth the read, if one still has an open mind about it all.

All views should be presented and discussed, and leaving portions out, or asking them to be left out, is not looking for open discourse it is looking for entrenched positions. I myself, still dance the line of indecision, and want to read all sides an positions.

Just because there are 2 live voices here stating something, does not mean that the other view points are not out there and thus are not presentable here.

As presenting other views does not abstract it, at all.  Just as presenting different views of feminist thought, that may not bere presented here, by those subscribing to it, does not abstract the lives other feminist women live, under their own view.

Under Susan's own description, of who  is in her model of included voices at the table, are the John's, as they are considered stakeholders too.

Long ago now, Martin made a very difficult confession about his own life as a john, and how he feels about.

Thus, I would suggest there is significant reason for his voice to be heard by those in the sex industry, and by ourselves too. As he is the voice of an ex-john than can attest to, and is willing to be truthful, and put himself out there, to expose the reality of some men's, not all men's, motivation for utlizing  sex workers.

Now personally, I waiver on the edge of believing that it should be made a flat out trade, that requires education. But that does not address the  problem of prostituted women, who are not in the trade because they want to be.

 

 

 

 

Stargazer

I absolutely agree all views should be discussed. What I don't agree with is a man defining for a woman what she should and can call herself. It has nothing really to do with a particular position, just the way the response to Just one was worded.

Martin was a john? You know, I know a lot of men who either thought seriously about using a sex worker or who have done it. I was shocked about that, but after they explained why, I can sort of understand it. But I am not a man, and I clearly have no real insight into how and why men decide to use sex workers. It is up to them to tell me. Just as it is up to the women who work in this trade (and I like that idea remind, of it being a trade) to define themselves as they wish without anyone going hostile on them. That's all.

 

martin dufresne

What I don't agree with is a man defining for a woman what she should and can call herself.
I agree and in no way did I do that.

Stargazer

Well then...okay....

remind remind's picture

Having read back over martin's post again, I do not believe he did that. He was indicating  incorrect usage of the word  "ALL", that Just used.

As he has so aptly presented here, with concrete evidence, there is no greater "ALL".  In a similar vein, all  feminist's are not of the same feminist thought.

Moreover, as a john,  or as a former one, he does not want to be labelled thusly, as a sex worker, either. As the models Susan has posted state johns are sex worker stakeholders too.

Now this goes beyond Martin's male genderness and voicing a "male opinion" in the feminist forum, this topic relates directly to what  he was, and in part why he became a feminist.

Infosaturated

Stargazer wrote:

Because Info... if things are left to a majority to decide, we don't get to advance as a society, as seen by the many states currently using their will to discriminate freely against the GLTB community in regards to marriage (and almost every other aspect of their lives).

If you want to respond to me please read what I said more carefully. I could explain it again if you really didn't understand but I think I was pretty clear.

 

remind remind's picture

Perhaps you could have asked stargazer what it was she did not understand about your commentary, or how she got that from it, and then clarified what it was you meant, instead of assuming she was being disengenuous, as that is the charge that you are levelling at her.

And frankly,  it is not very pleasant to read such an imperious post.

 

Infosaturated

remind wrote:

All views should be presented and discussed, and leaving portions out, or asking them to be left out, is not looking for open discourse it is looking for entrenched positions. I myself, still dance the line of indecision, and want to read all sides an positions.

Just because there are 2 live voices here stating something, does not mean that the other view points are not out there and thus are not presentable here.

As presenting other views does not abstract it, at all.  Just as presenting different views of feminist thought, that may not bere presented here, by those subscribing to it, does not abstract the lives other feminist women live, under their own view.

Thank you for saying that so eloquently remind.

martin dufresne

just one of the... writes: ...Stella is a group you despise, because they support legal sex work and you have said so on record here.

 

Excuse me but, no, I have never written anything of the kind. Care to substantiate that charge?

 

Infosaturated

remind wrote:

Perhaps you could have asked stargazer what it was she did not understand about your commentary, or how she got that from it, and then clarified what it was you meant, instead of assuming she was being disengenuous, as that is the charge that you are levelling at her.

And frankly,  it is not very pleasant to read such an imperious post.

What she said had absolutely nothing to do with anything I have said. Nothing.  It like if I answered your post by saying...

Because remind, everyone has a right to speak.

How could you respond to that?  You'd be like WTF are you talking about? Of course everyone has a right to speak.

If it were just this once I wouldn't mind but it isn't. 

I don't appreciate having to deny things that have absolutely nothing to do with what I said. I decided to interpret it as maybe she was just skim reading or something. Wouldn't it be more insulting to suggest she can't understand or is doing it deliberately?

I have noticed that my words are not being quoted either. If they were it would be clear to readers that she is not responding to anything I said so I would be fine with that.

Maybe I worded myself poorly.  So instead I will say this:

Stargazer, please quote me when responding directly to something I said so we can avoid confusion.

remind remind's picture

Fair enough, and I know exactly how you feel when you say:

"I don't appreciate having to deny things that have absolutely nothing to do with what I said. I have noticed that my words are not being quoted either."

People who have issues with people's words  would do well to quote them and ask what is meant by them.

In fact, earlier I jumped to a conclusion about another's words, and should not have, but I did quote them so said person would know directly what I was speaking about. And then it was resolved.

But anyway this is a thread derailment.

just one of the...

remind wrote:
Having read back over martin's post again, I do not believe he did that. He was indicating  incorrect usage of the word  "ALL", that Just used.

I never used the word "all" once, nor anything of the sort. I personally believe that there are other feminist positions on this issue. Legalization is not the only way to be feminist, and I respect other opinions, but I strongly belive that the time has come to legalize, johns and all, and am prepared to defend that.

remind wrote:
As he has so aptly presented here, with concrete evidence, there is no greater "ALL".  In a similar vein, all  feminist's are not of the same feminist thought.
Absolutely true.

remind wrote:
Moreover, as a john, or as a former one, he does not want to be labelled thusly, as a sex worker, either. As the models Susan has posted state johns are sex worker stakeholders too.
I do not believe johns have anything to be ashamed off (and i am not saying martin is ashamed or should be.) And furthermore other people on this forum have subtly and not-so-subtly identified that they have been johns at one point also. Johns are mostly not people who are abusive, or "bad apples". They are the second half to the sex trade and if they are law-abiding, civil, and respectful, then a lot of workers will consider that a "good trick". i believe that we demonize of johns because of a lot of unexplored places deep within masculinity that are not yet exceptable for men to out in public, because of things they cant share with their partners, and because we still forget that most assault, by far, happens at the hands of a man that a woman knows well such as her partner. A man will often ask a sexworker to hit them. There is more to this than meets the eye and johns are people too

just one of the...

And Martin I am sorry for insisting that you had no place in this conversation. Your opinions are welcome and you provide a lot of research and links.
I am opposed to any legal answers which criminalize johns and am prepared to defend that, but it is good to have opposition as it keeps a person on their toes.

remind remind's picture

Quote:
I never used the word "all" once, nor anything of the sort

Fair enough you did not use nthe word "all", but you did use "everything of the sort". As follows:

just one of the.. wrote:
In return, I would ask martin, politely, to stop appropriating sex workers' voices. Is it really too much to ask for him to stop calling sex workers "prostituted people," to stop appropriating testimony, and to stop insinuating that sex workers, that's right SEX WORKERS are victims, or trafficked? How do you think it feels to be made to feel like damaged goods by another name?

Sex workers do not self-identify as "prostituted people" can we at least refrain from using that term in this forum???

I just think some terms are rude such as that one, and asking if we could refrain from calling people names they don't call themselves

In all these separate comments of yours above , you used blanket phraseology, and left no room for those we know quite clearly are prostituted people, they are not sex workers  who are there by  their own choosing. Thus, you are expropriating their voice, and denying their existence, in as much as you believe martin is expropriating your voice and stating you are damaged goods. When he isn't on either issue. There was nothing disrespectful in his words.

How about looking at  this topic as if martin, and others, are the voices of those that are forced into prostitution, that have no voice here, because they have no access to a computer, for whatever reason, may it be drug addiction and living on the streets, or absolute control by a pimp, or something else,  to let their voices be heard?

Because the reality is, they have talked to groups and orgs and martin has provided evidence of their testimony to them, here in these threads. I gave a news clip about 3 young Asian women who  were rescued from forced prostitution in a Edmonton massage parlour. They were prostituted women, who did not come to Canada to be a "sex worker", they are victims of preditors.

He is not speaking out of his ass, when he says some in the trade do not refer to themselves as sex workers, because they are not, and they say they are not, as soon as they have the chance to do so.

 

 

 

just one of the...

Please read my most recent posts and nobody here supports forced sex work or human trafficking for the millionth time.

remind remind's picture

Absolutely  no one said you did.

Unionist

I'll re-post Libby Davies' press release of September 2002, when she was NDP Social Policy Critic. It's probably more appropriate in this thread anyway:

[url=Federal">http://www.libbydavies.ca/news/pressrelease/2002/09/17/federal-solicitat... Solicitation Laws Put Sex Trade Workers at Risk[/url]

Quote:
"Current laws on prostitution are making street-level sex workers vulnerable to selective enforcement laws, as well as exploitation and violence," said Davies. [...]

"The illegal nature of the sex trade has a dramatic impact on the safety and rights of those working in the industry. Street-level prostitutes are criminalized by Canada's laws against solicitation and are less likely to ask for police protection when at risk," said Davies

Numerous studies have shown that a majority of sex-trade workers have received treatment for a physical injury while working in the sex trade. In the 1990's, murders of prostitutes made up 5% of the overall homicide rate of women in Canada.

susan davis

i supports john's voices because they hold the key if we are to truely try to end exploitation in the sex industry. customers go in to sex industry businesses and seeworking conditions and potntially exploitation and abuse. customers need to be able to report exloitation without fear of criminal charges, public humiliation, etc

knowing martin was a consumer makes his position and attitudes much clearer and easier to understand. don't be so down on men martin, you are beautiful!!

Stargazer

Infosaturated, please get off my back. You've been on me since you started posting (or so it feels) if you have a problem, contact the mods. This is getting silly and I am quite sure people are noticing.

martin dufresne

I am not "down on men", I am down on a culture of male privilege that gets men to act as "men," with all the attendant harm to other human beings. I talk to young men who are still resisting this choice between respect and instrumentalization of women, and I have immense respect for them, I assure you.

 

susan davis

i would also like to comment on the term "prostituted people"

why do we have seperate terms for a person exploited in the sex industry and those exploited in other ways? seperating violence against women in the sex industry and violence against other women makes it seem as if violence in the sex industry is somehow different, less, or unimportant.

why do we need 2 sets of laws? could we not say exploited person? this kind of othering is why police services and other support mechanisms do not take violence against us seriously. i remember a female officer who i was talking to while standing on the street corner wherei worked, completely refusing to take a report of rape and assault from a fellow sex worker who approached us during our conversation.

"i just had a bad date, you wanna here about it?"

female officer "not really..."

my fellow worker burst into tears and stormed off to the hotel where we lived to clean the blood off her face and change her ripped clothes so she could return to work....

on another occassion a trans worker i know tried to report a rape and assault to police;

worker "i just got raped!" police officer "good"

in my work with provincial victims services, we were looking at the victims compensation program and barriers that exist for sex worker trying to access supports and counselling we discovered we must be able to atribute our trauma to one particular event and so do not qualify for victims compensation or counselling services. apparently, we have been raped too much. the victims compensation representative also implied sex workers  were greedy and would continue to collect our $8 an hr maximum 40 hrs a week victims compensation even after we didn't need it any more, thus she would never grant financial support to a sex worker who was the victim of a crime....so biased.

the very systems intended to protect us denying us access to supports that could save our lives.

i myself tried to report a rape by the man convicted in the trial in the case of the missing women in 1991. 3 times, i waited for police and no one came to take my report. imagine if sex workers were treated equally and my assault taken seriously, how many of those women would be alive today? was 49 he claimed?

we must try to stop seperating violence against people in the sex industry as different. it is contributing to systematic failure and barriers for sex workers seekng protection.

especially if a worker was forced into the industry, why brand them a prostitute or prostituted person? doesn't it make sense to protect the from the shame and stigma associated with that term. should we not try to protect the from further harm as a result of being "damaged goods" sexually ruined.... and all the other things people think about sex workers?

whycan't we say exploited person, survivor of unlawful confinement, rape survivor? a person forced to engage in sex work is a rape survivor after all,  every forced client is a rape. why is rape of a person forced into sex work different from a rape of a person not in the sex industry?

 

 

 

martin dufresne

To use an analogy from labour, when wanting to defend and empower workers from exploitive conditions, it is significant to acknowledge conditions such as a sweatshop or  a maquiladora and their owners/governments organization and strategy. Similarly, someone living off the avails of someone brought to sell her body is not simply guilty of intimidation; he or she is part  of a complex, specific system which society has come to acknowledge as harmful and oppose - sometimes, not nearly enough. When we focus on women or youths' victimization, yes, it is essential to have rape and assault recognized as such. But if and when we come to focus on their assaulters and exploiters, it is necessary to be clear about their specific crimes and the context they have built around it. Which is why it makes no sense - except for their interests - to lump exploiters and the exploited together in across-the-board decriminalization.

Different strokes for different folks. Or as Tommy Paine often puts it: "One Law for the Ox and Lion is Oppression." (William Blake)

 

Michelle

Since this thread is almost long enough to close, I'm going to close it and redirect everyone to this thread, where we can continue the discussion on prostitution laws.

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