In Canada laws denied women the vote, employment, equal pay for equal work, and the right to contraception and abortion. It used to be legal for a husband to rape his wife. These laws have all been abolished. So, why after all these years should laws be telling women that they can’t use their bodies to make money?
Prostitution isn’t a crime in Canada because of the physical danger it poses. Prostitution doesn’t physically harm anyone if done safely. Prostitution is illegal because of what Canadians deem morally right and wrong.
Women should not be forced into the sex trade, traded by men, or brought to Canada from abroad and forced into prostitution. Those actions are dangerous because they take the choice away from women. But shouldn’t women over the age of legal consent be allowed to choose to do with their bodies what they wish?
What is dangerous is criminalizing their behavior, forcing women in the sex trade beneath the surface without legal protection from attacks. Arresting them gives them criminal records and makes it harder for them to get other jobs in life.
The sex workers are responsible, but they are fearful. After the first national report on the sex trade in Canada in 2014, it was revealed that 97% of sex trade workers voluntarily got tested for HIV/AIDS. But, while 15% of sex-trade workers said they had been sexually assaulted during their work only 1% reported it.
In British Columbia in 2011 a man was arrested after physically assaulting 3 sex trade workers, almost to death, and was given an 8-year prison sentence. The law is creating a situation where men can attack and kidnap prostitutes at will. According to John Loman, a criminologist at Simon Fraser University, between 1995-2000 up to 60 Vancouver sex-trade workers were kidnapped and killed. Outside Vancouver, Robert Picton was arrested for killing seven sex workers.
If prostitution is decriminalized women in this trade would have more power over their bodies, their fear of attack would drop, and they would be protected.
Is keeping the status quo actually helping women, or is it making their lives needlessly dangerous?
Canadian laws that denied women opportunities have been demolished over the years. The prostitution law is another one that needs to fall.