First challenge of Canada's prostitution law.

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First challenge of Canada's prostitution law.

The case before the court is that of Hamad Anwar and Tiffany Harvey. They face more than two dozen sex-related charges each, including making money from the sex trade, advertising sexual services, and forcing someone into the sex trade. 

The charges relate to a bust made by London police at an escort service in November 2015. 

The accused are being represented by well-known Toronto lawyer James Lockyer. 

Lockyer doesn't dispute that his clients ran an escort agency. But at issue in Tuesday's proceedings are three charges under Canada's three-year-old prostitution law, often referred to as Bill C-36:

  • Advertising someone else's sexual services
  • Benefiting financially or otherwise from someone else's sexual services
  • Procuring a person to offer a sexual service (a charge that can be laid against a pimp, for example). 

I think the case will be lost due to the approach they are taking.

The first defence expert witness called in the case, academic Chris Atchison, testified that the new law, often referred to as Bill C-36, makes it less safe for people in the sex trade to do their jobs. 

"I believe the application of these laws makes things worse for the most vulnerable people on the street but also for others in the sex industry," Atchison told the court. 

Perhaps it wasn't possible, but they would have been better off arguing that they weren't offering any sexual services. That if the women offered sexual services it was on their own initiative. 

It will be an interesting trial. It seems their argument is going to be that they are helping by breaking the law. I can't see that working.