Tag Archive | supreme court

Landmark ruling on prostitution laws coming Monday

 

That’s right – it’s here!

The Ontario Court of Appeal intends to release its landmark decision on the legality of the country’s prostitution laws on Monday.

After deliberating for nine months, a five-judge panel of the court is faced with the task of deciding whether or not to decriminalize three anti-prostitution provisions on the basis that they actually endanger prostitutes rather than adding to their safety.The decision under appeal struck down the laws governing pimping, keeping a brothel and communicating for the purposes of prostitution.

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Journey to the Supreme Court

Yesterday was the culmination of a pretty amazing journey for me. I sat in the front row at the Supreme Court of Canada as the as the federal government tried to persuade the country’s top court that Sheri Kiselbach, a former sex worker with 30 years of experience and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), a non-profit organization run by and for street-based sex workers in the Downtown Eastside, do not have standing to challenge the laws related to adult prostitution because they are not directly affected. Among the people sitting with me wereSheri and DJ. DJ is a member of SWUAV and has been involved with Pivot since we first started looking at the issue of sex workers’ safety ten years ago.

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Going Dutch

An appeal court decision expected early next year could decriminalize prostitution in Canada, putting us on par with the Netherlands. Experts there say it’s the best way to protect women, but officials in Sweden, where they have a zero-tolerance policy, say it would be a big mistake. Claire Tremblay looks at the two approaches to see what Canada can learn

 By Claire Tremblay, Ottawa Citizen December 3, 2011

Det.-Insp. Kajsa Wahlberg, a middle-aged woman with short blond hair, exudes an air of policing officialdom. As Sweden’s National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, the seasoned police inspector has witnessed human trafficking at its worst. From lone pimps exploiting teen girls and seducing them with promises of love, to complex crime syndicates that drag drugged women en masse into anonymous hotel rooms across Europe, Wahlberg has seen it all.

And as the Ontario Court of Appeal considers a case that could see prostitution decriminalized in this country, she has a warning for Canada: Do so at your own peril.

Expect prostitution to skyrocket, she says. Expect drugs, crime and human trafficking to soar.

“If Canada adopts a model of decriminalizing sex buyers, prostitution will explode. It will become like the Netherlands,” says Wahlberg. “The sex buyers will require more and different types of weirdo sex and new varieties and services. It would be a big mistake.”

The court case that so alarms Wahlberg is Bedford v. Canada, the September 2010 Ontario Court of Justice case where sex workers Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Leibovitch and Valerie Scott took the federal government to court over Canada’s sex laws – and won.

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Sex work, access to justice and the Supreme Court of Canada

For the past decade, I have had the great fortune of working closely with sex workers in the DTES and across the country who are fighting for safety, equality, legal rights and social protections for women and men in the sex industry. When I first began campaigning on this issue, I thought that, as a lawyer, I could make a particular contribution to this movement by bringing test cases that would advance rights and protections for sex workers. I thought that by providing pro bono legal representation, a major access to justice hurdle was overcome. However, what I did not know was that one of the biggest struggles would be for sex workers to simply get their day in court, and that there are many other systemic barriers for sex workers who want to engage the legal system to assert their rights. A long struggle for access to justice for sex workers continues and, in January 2012, Pivot will continue this fight at Canada’s highest court.

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