Our Lives to Fight For: Sex Trade Law in Canada

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article reflect those of the author and not necessarily those of SFU Volunteer Services.

Canada’s stance on prostitution has been at a major crossroads.  On September 28, 2010, Ontario’s Justice Himel struck down federal level prostitution law ruling that the existing provisions regarding sex work violate the Charter of Rights on security of person. Under the Criminal Code, sex workers are unable to openly take measures to ensure their safety. Although this ruling only affects Ontario, it has sparked debates all over Canada, especially regarding the regulation (or de-regulation) of sex work.

There are many organizations within Vancouver that take a strong stance on this issue. Such organizations include Vancouver Rape Relief, the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, Pivot Legal, Asian Women’s Coalition Ending Prostitution, Emancipated Voices now Educating and Emancipation Now. These are only a few of such organizations who raise an active voice on the issue of sex work regulation and the safety of women.

Instead of outlining what each of the above mentioned organizations’ mandates are, it is more important to mention my personal experience with this issue.  In my last semester of classes at SFU, I enrolled in a course named “Applied Communication for Social Issues” (CMNS 425).  In this class, I joined a group of students that eventually decided to develop a listening campaign on the topic of prostitution in Canada.  Not long after deciding this, the above mentioned verdict of Justice Himel was issued.

Those of us in the 425 class soon found ourselves immersed in the issue, mostly by interviewing representatives from the organizations previously mentioned.  It’s important to note that many of us had no pre-formed opinions before the course research was done. With time, we began to feel that the Swedish model for prostitution was the best – women are decriminalized and the men, the pimps and Johns, are criminalized. It seems like a much better system, strategically, for Canada to follow as well.

There is so much more to say and question about this issue. The following documentary is a result of the efforts of my group project - it better explains our cause than I could.

Documentary:

Our Lives To Fight For from M on Vimeo.

You can also access our blog at http://ourlivestofightfor.wordpress.com/, which includes a link to the documentary.
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Image source: www.ourlivestofightfor.wordpress.com

By Kathryn Lim