Supreme Court of Canada to make a decision on prostitution law Dec. 20

On Friday, December 20th, the Supreme Court of Canada will make a decision on whether to throw out Canada’s current prostitution laws, keep them, or look to an alternative.

The decision is precipitated by Bedford v. Canada, a legal challenge arguing the current laws are unconstitutional.

It isn’t technically illegal to buy sex in Canada, but many of the laws surrounding prostitution criminalize it: communicating for the purposes of prostitution, operating a bawdy house (brothel), or living off the avails of prostitution (pimping).

Back in March 2012, Ontario’s Appeal Court ruled to strike down the law against bawdy houses but upheld the communication law. The court found that “living on the avails” of prostitution should apply only in “circumstances of exploitation.” The Federal Government appealed the decision and the rulings were put on hold pending a decision at the Supreme Court.

Feminists organizations, Aboriginal women’s groups, sexual assault centres, and transition houses hope the Court will consider the human rights of women in this ruling and that the government will look towards the Nordic model as an option. France recently approved a bill that would make it illegal to pay for sex, after considering the success of this law in Sweden and other progressive countries. A similar model could easily be adopted in Canada.

Canada has an opportunity to take a position on women’s rights and make marginalized women a priority with this ruling. We hope they do the right thing.

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy

Meghan Murphy, founder and editor of Feminist Current, is a freelance writer and journalist. She completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog. Follow her @meghanemurphy

  • NewGirl

    Tick tock exploiters! Better get all your perving done in the next week!!

  • riv

    This is only striking down the existing law, not a move for the Nordic Model, correct?

    • Meghan Murphy

      That’s right. Though the government could use this as an opportunity to reassess and look towards a more progressive model! If they do strike down the brothel law, I don’t know that we’ll have any legs to stand on, as it were, with regard to advocating for exiting services and the criminalization of johns…

  • http://gravatar.com/sundazed2 Henke

    Fredrik Reinfeldt, Swedish prime minister, held his yearly christmas speech yesterday and while I don’t like him or his rightwinged friends that much a few things on the right is actually worth taking to the heart. He came to the topic of the prostitution and how there has to bee even harder punishmed on the johns that buys sex. In my opinion a good thing and its horrible that the left, mostly thruout the whole westernworld are so blunt regarding this. The rightwingers have my vote on this. They are also the ones that usually wanna put limits on the pornindustry and they got my vote on that too. Sure, I would rahter see it completley dismantled but a good way in getting there would to be to put on restrictions on what kind of porn that is allowed to be sold and again the left mostly have nothing to say in these matters in the western world.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The left has it right in other places though — France, Sweden, etc… It’s mainly the ‘liberals’ in North American who desperately cling to prostitution as both inevitable and a viable ‘job option’ for women.

  • marv