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The Problem of Prostitution in Canada

Discuss about the Substance Abuse and Survival Prostitution.

The issue of prostitution has led to an increasing debate that involves various contradictory concerns, ethics and interests. The clear acts of prostitution that is street soliciting is a major concern in most Canadian states[1]. The actions have converted particular cities into crowded, nasty, havens for usage of illegal drugs and violent crimes. The government has faced difficulties in tackling the problem of prostitution[2]. This problem poses hard queries to government: which authority should be responsible in handling prostitution, and what measures should be enacted? In addition, what extent should the government go in enacting its authority to control the problem of prostitution? This paper is a discussion of the effect of prostitution in Canada and how the problem should be solved.

Scholars argue that controlling and monitoring the greatest publicly and unpleasant acts of the “oldest profession” will shift the problem to another area; that the arising harmful impacts of prostitution derives less from its intrinsic abilities than from our uncertain conduct and approach towards it.  The definition of prostitution is not clearly explained in the criminal act, but the case law has explained several major aspects of the acts- the provision of sexual services, the malicious aspect of the act, and the need of some aspect of monetary benefits. It has never been criminally illegal in Canada to engage in sexual favours for satisfaction (between grownups). However, the criminal law does not support acts associated with prostitution which is a big problem to public order or offensive to public civility. In 1892, prostitution was first included into Canada’s criminal code and it remained unaffected until 1972, where guidelines were put in place about the acts of a prostitute looking for clients as an aspect of vagrancy. Section 175(1) (c) stated that every woman being a common prostitute or night walker is found in a public area should account of herself[3]. This segment was used for the purpose of preventing street solicitation. However, this limited the act as it targeted the women on the aspect of prestige and not for any malicious activities, as the basis of conviction. In addition, the rule is in conflict with the common law which prohibits self-implication. This contributes to inconsistency with the ideologies of the Canadian Bill of Rights.  Due to this condemnations by the research provided by the Royal Commission and the judiciary on the status of the ladies, the “vag c” guidelines were scrapped off in 1972 and substituted by section 195.1, which stated that every person who engages in solicitation with any individual in a public place was to be charged and convicted. The purpose of this law was to discipline only the malicious act of prostitution although the term prostitution was not clearly explained.[4] This law was intended to object the “vag c” segment and to handle the common annoying act of prostitution. However, it did not require an individual to give an explanation of his or her movements, and applied to both women and men.

Controlling Prostitution in the Netherlands

This vagrancy laws had a negative effect on prostitutes because they criminalized all the aspects of street solicitation, the involvement of prostitution in a brothel, and prohibited individual from depending on prostitution as a source of income. [5]These particular laws no longer control the acts associated to prostitution but their continued implications continue to impact prostitutes. Bedford v. Canada challenged this particular law as it limits the sex workers by hindering them from negotiating a price in a public area, therefore leading them into unsecure locations where they could be mistreated; hindering sex workers from creating a secure workplace. For instance, hire a bodyguard as he/she could be depending on the income from prostitution. Moreover, due to the fact that these criminal codes limits the establishment of a social support network, including having a family, this laws force women to work in unsecure locations and could lead to increased mistreatment as crimes against sex workers would unnoticed resulting from fear of dual-criminalization. These codes contribute to continuous mistreatment of sex workers in two major ways; through physical violence and health issues.

In 2013, Bedford vs. Canada were ruled in by the Supreme Court, and discovered that the existing guidelines controlling prostitution to be unlawful and gave parliament a 12 months “suspended declaration of invalidity”. [6] The validity of the requirements of the criminal law would remain to be for a period of 12 months, giving the legislature time to create new laws following the decision of the criminal court.  This was a great victory for feminists, however, the declaration of invalidity still brought much concerns in terms of tackling the problem to do with health risks and physical injuries experienced by sex workers. [7]According to Perrin, as a result of the recent restrictions in place, sex workers experience some of the greatest health risks in Canada. Including an increased level of drug related crimes, distresses, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. Sex workers also face the highest death rates in Canada as compared to other victims of murder. Connelly concurs with Perrin’s assertions of sex workers death rates. [8]Connelly highlights that the previous criminal law restrictions concerning prostitution merely contributed to the numerous murders that were carried out by Robert Pickton, but Connelly also argues that the Pickton must be viewed through a moral aspect.

Netherlands is among those countries that have successfully legalized and controlled prostitution. Dutch prostitution rules were developed to control public order, cub crimes and prohibit illegal immigration.[9] The government’s mission was to control “voluntary prostitution” and to combat involuntary prostitution and other crime related activities. For it to do so, it provided licenses to regulate trades such as bawdy houses and brothels. These licenses lead business holders to ensure a safe and healthy conditions for sex workers in their workplace, as well as following the guidelines stated by the government that is the sex worker has to be a citizen of Holland and attained the age of eighteen. The Dutch government states these provisions have nearly prevented unlicensed and illegal activities.  Moreover, the legalization has contributed to healthy physical working environments of prostitutes, whereby the prostitutes must have protected sex, and receive full insured health benefits from the government, hence enhancing their safety and health. However, though these laws have improved the lives of prostitutes, there are certain shortcomings that have emerged. For instance, the control of sex trade has led to an increase in escort services, which are challenging to control. [10]Jensen highlights that the laws enacted have not given the prostitutes the essential support they deserve to facilitate and exercise their freedom that is the right to form unions, thereby leading to their discrimination. It is important to be aware that in the Netherlands, the control of the sex business is still a quite recent phenomenon. It will take several years before the rules can be fully effective, although efforts have been made to protect prostitutes.

Legalized Prostitution in Nevada, USA

Nevada, United States of America, is a local area that has accepted prostitution. It is the only state in the United States to do so, Nevada was prompted to legalize prostitution for monetary reasons associated to tourism. It is significant to be aware that Nevada only monitors the usage of bawdyhouses and brothels, while still restricting all aspects of street solicitation. [11]The guidelines state that prostitutes must receive random health examination for HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as necessitate the client to wear protection. Brothels are also controlled through permits issued by the state districts, which have strict rules that brothels cannot be operated by an individual who has committed a felony or is involved in illegal activities. In addition, prostitutes are employed as independent and must have attained the age of eighteen or twenty-one, depending on the guidelines stated by the specific county. However, these rules have focused in enhancing the health and safety of prostitutes thereby have failed to control street prostitution forcing women to negotiate with customers in private locations, where they are more susceptible to mistreatment and attacks.

The Canadian government should follow the guidelines outlined by the New Zealand government as it is one most successful nations to control and monitor prostitution. In comparison to Netherlands and Nevada, New Zealand does not use difficult measures of government control, but it has settled for the decriminalization strategy. [12]Decriminalization has been discovered as more correct approach in regulating sex trade. Before the enactment of this guidelines, the New Zealand government target was to handle issues affecting sex workers such as: reducing mistreatment, improving labour rights and empowering of women, reducing criminal activities related with prostitution, reducing the number of illegal immigrants in the sex business, and decreasing the level of sex trafficking business. Consequently, New Zealand government has had enormous success in controlling the sex business. Similar to Nevada, New Zealand needs brothels to improve the welfare of their workers and their workstation. Apart from this, instead of the guidelines being controlled through a criminal law, it is controlled through provincial labour control; safety healthy, and occupational codes. Further to what Nevada has done, prostitutes in Nevada have a right to decline any client, and if a client were to get involved in unprotected sex, they could be arrested. [13]The Canadian government should manage brothels through the issuing of licenses and permits that enable the government to control and monitor the sex business. In addition, the brothels should be frequently inspected to ensure the health standards are met. Also, the police should frequently ensure the safety of the staff and the managers in the bawdy houses, and the prostitutes are protected. Moreover, the Canadian government should establish an organization that will include; government officials, prostitute representatives, and individuals of several private organizations. [14]The role of this organization is to analyze and review the effect of the implemented guidelines and make approvals to establish new codes and legislations which will improve the livelihood of prostitutes in Canada.  To conclude, the Canadian government should pass a bill that protects the sex workers and maintains prostitution to be legal. However, it should be illegal to advertise for sexual services or pay for it. The bill should also incriminate the activities of pimps and johns and hinder prostitution in locations where children could be present. This includes; areas near day cares and schools.

References

Bayliss, Amanda Katherine. "Substance abuse and survival prostitution: co-occurrence and interaction of risk factors." PhD diss., Saint Mary’s University, 2016.

Bruckert, Chris, and Stacey Hannem. "Rethinking the prostitution debates: Transcending structural stigma in systemic responses to sex work." Canadian Journal of Law and Society 28, no. 1 (2013): 43-63.

Cao, Liqun, Ruibin Lu, and Xiaohan Mei. "Acceptance of prostitution and its social determinants in Canada." International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology (2015):

Chiang, Anita. "'Victim','Deviant', or'Worker'but Nothing in Between: Revisiting Prostitution Discourse in Bedford v. Canada." PhD diss., Arts & Social Sciences: School of Criminology, 2015.

Connelly, Laura, and Teela Sanders. "Prostitution/Sex Work." The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Gender and Sexuality Studies (2015).

Krüsi, Andrea, Katrina Pacey, Lorna Bird, Chrissy Taylor, Jill Chettiar, Sarah Allan, Darcie Bennett, J. S. Montaner, Thomas Kerr, and Kate Shannon. "Criminalisation of clients: reproducing vulnerabilities for violence and poor health among street-based sex workers in Canada—a qualitative study." BMJ open 4, no. 6 (2014): e005191.

Jensen, Jannaya. "" The Master Problem of the Age": Print Culture and the Sex Trade in Canada, 1880-1920." Dalhousie Journal of Interdisciplinary Management 10, no. 1 (2014).

Lister, Billie. "Prostitution Policy in the Nordic Region: Ambiguous Sympathies. By May-Len Skilbrei and Charlotta Holmstrom (Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2013, 184pp., Hardback,£ 60: 00 GBP) Leaving Prostitution: Getting Out and Staying Out of Sex Work. By Sharon S. Oselin (NYU Press, 2014, 218pp., Paperback, $25 USD) Selling Sex: Experience, Advocacy and Research on Sex Work in Canada. By Emily van der Meulen, Elya M. Durisn and Victoria Love (UBC Press, 2013, 364pp., Hardback, $95.00 CAD)." (2015): azv042.

Lyons, Tara, Andrea Krüsi, Leslie Pierre, Thomas Kerr, Will Small, and Kate Shannon. "Negotiating violence in the context of transphobia and criminalization: the experiences of trans sex workers in Vancouver, Canada." Qualitative health research 27, no. 2 (2017): 182-190.

Perrin, Benjamin. "How to Make Canada's New Prostitution Laws Work." (2014).

Perrin, Benjamin. "Oldest Profession or Oldest Oppression?: Addressing Prostitution after the Supreme Court of Canada Decision in Canada v. Bedford." (2014).

Rotenberg, Cristine. "Prostitution offences in Canada: Statistical trends." Juristat: Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (2016): 1.

Urback, Robyn. "Peter MacKay hopes Bill C-?36 will eliminate prostitution in Canada. Good luck with that." The National Post (2014).

Van der Meulen, Emily, Elya M. Durisin, and Victoria Love. Selling sex: Experience, advocacy, and research on sex work in Canada. UBC Press, 2013.

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