In prostitution, ‘race, class, and sex intersect in the worst of ways to subjugate Native women’

Cherry Smiley

Last month CTV News aired a short documentary as part of their “First Story” series, called “Stepping from the Shadows,” which looks at indigenous women and prostitution, the Bedford decision, and how the future of Canada’s prostitution laws could impact indigenous women and girls in Canada.

The documentary features women such as Jackie Lynne, Cherry Smiley, Summer-Rain Bentham and Mona Woodward, who describe the ways poverty, racism, sexism, and violence lead indigenous women into prostitution and keep them there.

“Race, class, and sex intersect in the worst ways to subjugate Native women — and in the act of prostitution it’s the most racist, the most sexist… And the man holds all of the economic power in that,” Lynne says.

Indigenous women and girls are overrepresented in street prostitution and are, according to Cherry Smiley, the most affected, yet she says in the documentary that the recent judgement on Bedford vs. Canada left them out of the decision.

Jakie Lynne
Jackie Lynne

“There was no mention of colonialism in the judgement, there was no mention of aboriginal women and girls in the judgement,” she said.

Smiley says the voices, experiences, knowledge and traditions of indigenous women have been silenced and ignored in this case. This, of course, speaks to a larger pattern we see wherein certain voices are privileged in conversations around prostitution, as well as to Canadian society’s general treatment and view of indigenous people.

Woodward says that when her sister died just outside of Calgary, the police didn’t even bother to do an investigation. “Society, as a whole, does not care about aboriginal women,” she says. “And they certainly don’t care about sex trade workers, if you’re aboriginal and you’re poor.”

And so while we seem to revel in the stories of white, educated, middle class women who entered into prostitution, perhaps of their own volition, who can fit the role of “happy hooker” and placate our desire to believe that, “oh, it’s not so bad,” “it’s natural,” “it’s just a job like any other,” the voices of the women most impacted are silenced and erased.

We desperately want prostitution to be simply about consenting adults engaging in fun sexy times, no big deal. What we don’t want is to address are the larger issues around who ends up in prostitution and why. We also don’t want to deal with the fact that, behind all this — behind the existence of the entire sex industry — are men who want the “right” to have whatever they want. And I say “whatever” rather than “whomever” because it seems clear that men who buy sex (especially the men who buy sex from indigenous women and girls on the Downtown Eastside) don’t particularly want to think about the humanity of the women and girls they are using.

What’s behind prostitution and the men who buy sex, I’m told by sisters and allies like Trisha Baptie, is that men want someone to whom they can do the things their wives and girlfriends won’t let them. Meaning that they want someone who they don’t have to think of as a full human being. As indigenous women have been historically dehumanized, it’s no surprise that society and johns would choose them to be the discardable humans, offered up to violent men as the rest of us look away.

Summer-Rain Bentham
Summer-Rain Bentham

What we also don’t like to talk about are the cycles of abuse Woodward and Lynne discuss — the way indigenous girls are abused in their homes and how that leads them into prostitution. Nor do we like to discuss the ways in which prostitution is a deeply racist industry, as Bentham points out.

“We’re targeted from the time when we’re small and taught that it’s an option for us. We’re taught that our bodies aren’t actually ours but that they are to please men,” Bentham says.

The comments that stood in most in contrast to what we hear from many of the indigenous women featured in the documentary came from Kate Gibson, executive director of WISH, who talked about the “agency” and “choice” of women who enter into the sex industry. While she claims “women can decide whether or not they’re going to engage in sex work,” it seems that the reality is that real “choice” and “agency” is what many women don’t have. “While we might not think that sex work is really a viable or safe alternative for women, that’s not our decision to make. It is their decision to make,” Gibson adds.

Is it? Is it really “their decision to make” when we as a society have taken so much from indigenous people, forced girls and women into homes with abusers and then pushed them onto the streets, then abandoned them with few alternatives or resources, left them vulnerable to predators, and then looked away as they are murdered and go missing? Is it really fair to say, “well it’s their decision” within that context? Is it really a “safe alternative?” If we believe that, it seems we aren’t listening.

Gibson says that up to 57% of women who use the WISH drop-in center are aboriginal (despite the fact that they make up only 2-4% of the population in Canada). What does this tell us about “women’s choices?” If prostitution were just a great “choice” women just happen to make, wouldn’t more middle class white women would be doing it? Or maybe men? Why is it that those people don’t “choose” prostitution?

The rhetoric of “free choice and agency” reeks of free market capitalism and delusion.

Smiley points out that “when we decriminalize pimps and johns or when we move towards a legalized regime of prostitution… we’re putting all of our faith and hope in capitalism.”

“We’re hoping that that greed will somehow regulate itself and we’re hoping that somehow pimps and johns will all of a sudden decide they want to put women’s equality before profit and before dollars,” she says.

Bentham believes that fully decriminalizing prostitution (i.e. decriminalizing pimps, johns, and brothels) will further entrench aboriginal girls and women in street-level prostitution, saying that they are not going to be the ones in the supposedly “safe” indoor escort agencies or brothels.

That indigenous women — the most marginalized people in Canada — are the ones funneled into this industry, groomed via sexual abuse from the time they are children, offered no options for escape, no housing, no education, no support services, are ignored when they disappear and are murdered, and are dehumanized by men want to think of and treat them as non-human should be one of the most significant aspects of this conversation. It is unacceptable that the voices, experiences, traditions, and realities of these women and girls are left out of debates and decisions around prostitution and prostitution law.

It is also unacceptable that we discuss this as anything but a violent and oppressive industry. To do so is to further erase those who are already silenced.

Smiley thinks Canada should adopt the Nordic model.

Cherry Smiley
Cherry Smiley

“What we want is prostituted women and girls to be decriminalized, we want the pimps and the johns to face criminal sanction, we want the government to put money into exiting services and services that help [prevent] women and girls from entering into prostitution in the first place,” Smiley says.

“We’re talking about alleviating poverty, we’re talking about safe and affordable housing… women-only detox, addiction services, mental health services, access to jobs, access to education, and especially for our women and girls we need access to our languages, to our cultures, and to our lands,” she adds.

We can do better Canada.

You can watch the entire episode here.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan 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.

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  • late

    I still do not believe these women who say they are prostitutes, call girls what-have-you, and it’s so empowering, agency blah blah. I don’t believe it is a safe, good lifestyle, I don’t believe they are speaking the truth, and I don’t believe that at the outside more than 5 percent are actually earning a living off their “career choice.”

    If they are truly in the trade, I don’t believe it’s for more than a few months or couple years, if at all. I think they are sad women who are playing “happy hooker” for the pseudo glamour and attention it gets them among the equally lame and deluded.

  • Lizor

    Thank you so much for clarifying what’s really going on here.

    I am often shocked and stymied when people I know who are otherwise critical thinkers take the reactionary libertarian stance on prostitution. It’s horrible and shameful that so many Canadians from across the political spectrum will so readily throw aboriginal women under the bus.

  • Maureen Master

    Thank you for highlighting the critical role that race and class play in the oppression of women in prostitution. Prostitution is indeed a highly gendered form of oppression, but as you aptly demonstrate in this article (and others you have written) race and class are also critical factors in the abuse of women generally — and are certainly significant loci of oppression in prostitution and other areas of the sex industry, which rely on racism and classism for survival, as well as on sexism.

    It’s telling that the pro-prostitution lobby only wants to talk about “agency” when they are promoting women entering or remaining in prostitution. If they truly supported women’s agency and truly believed that women have the right to make choices and that our choices should be respected, they would be supporting the vast majority of women who want to leave prostitution to do so. That would be truly supporting the agency of women in prostitution.

    But that is not the kind of agency the pro-prostitution lobby is interested in women having. Rather, they support women having such limited choices that prostitution becomes the only “choice” available to some women. And then they want to call that agency.

    Pro-prostitution advocates don’t support women’s agency at all. They support characterizing women’s lack of choices due to sex, race and class based oppression as agency. Calling that agency is woman-hating at its nastiest.

    • The main reason sex workers rights activists (who you falsely call “pro-prostitution lobby) want to stop the myth of “all prostitutes are forced, abused women” is because stereotypes such as this makes it impossible for former sex workers to find another job. As long as sex workers are seen as second class citizens and “damaged goods” with no skills, and the sex industry as immoral no matter what the conditions, no future employer will want to hire us. At the same time, the current way to talk about abuse in the sex industry also harms victims of trafficking and rape, as an Image of the “perfect victim” is created. Victims who don’t conform to the stereotypes (for example victims of trafficking who want to break free from their abusers, but who still continue as sex workers after that) are seen as not “deserving” legal protection from abuse.

      Sex workers rights activists are NOT promoting women entering into Prostitution. Usually, social services who offer consultations regarding entering this industry are the only realistic source of information for aspiring sex workers. If you want to enter prostitution because you need the money to feed your children, you will not listen to somebody who claims having sex for money is the worst thing that can happen to a woman no matter what. However, you will listen to somebody who rationally explains the risks, other options, but also how to be as safe as possible if you choose to enter this industry nonetheless. After such consultations, many women find other options. And the ones who still decide to be sex workers, have at least the basic skills needed for it. Without such entering services or experienced sex workers mentoring them, some naive young women start as sex workers without having any idea of how to interact with clients, set their boundaries and defend them. At the same time, such social services are the only ones that provide NON-JUDGEMENTAL consultations for women who wish to leave prostitution.

      There are organizations that want to “help” women leave prostitution, but at the same time they only do it under the condition that these women stop being sex workers immediately and confess shame and regret about their former occupation. This is one more thing that makes it impossible to leave the industry. Where are you supposed to get income during the time you learn the skills for another job? Who is going to compensate for the lost income when you start adjusting to a 1-dollar-job?

  • Donkey Skin

    “We’re talking about alleviating poverty, we’re talking about safe and affordable housing… women-only detox, addiction services, mental health services, access to jobs, access to education, and especially for our women and girls we need access to our languages, to our cultures, and to our lands”

    Cherry Smiley raises an important point here regarding the Nordic Model in Canada. Given the huge over-representation of Indigenous women in prostitution in Canada, wouldn’t any appropriate version of the Nordic Model have to take into account the specific needs of Native women, including measures to redress the effects of colonialism?

    This would mean, I assume, that the government would need to involve Indigenous women’s groups at all levels if it does decide to implement the Nordic model. I’m not Canadian, but I am under the impression the current conservative government does not approach the issue of Indigenous rights in good faith. How realistic is it that it would be prepared to listen to them when writing legislation and creating programs, let alone actually commit money towards an Indigenous agenda?

    • river

      The official oppostion support labelling and grading prostituted women. Don’t look to the left. For whatever reason, the right has gone further on this than any other party and I think our best option is to push them on it. My concern here is the split between aboriginal prostituted women, and so-called “white” prostituted women. I’m afraid because of the tenor of the aboriginal women’s protest, the government WILL grant these women some avenue of redress that will not be available to “white” prostituted women. I’m afraid it will be a divide and conquer effort. I have spoken about this before: men colonize women, period. They don’t only colonze native women.

      I’m half breed. I’m the result of native women who were sold to white men by their aboriginal male family members to secure rifles and trade status.

  • marv

    The fact that First Inhabitants abolitionists and other ones express themselves freely here is a definitive sign that the Feminist Current is one of the most outstanding blogs on the planet, maybe the cosmos. I don’t have enough evidence to back up my latter claim, yet 🙂 It is absolutely essential that Indigenous feminists are equal members of the abolition movement if it is to be authentic and succeed.

    The white male Canadian state has primary responsibility to end prostitution as it played the key role in confiscating and transferring Aboriginal lands and resources to itself and to white male private hands for commercial exploitation. The state and capital formed a public private partnership, a patriarchal marriage made in hell. Displacement, poverty and the prostitution were some of the worst outcomes. The time for restorative justice is long overdue but the offenders are still in denial. We need feminist empowered international structures to enforce restitution for Indigenous and all prostituted women. National governments on their own can’t be trusted to provide remedies though they must be challenged to do so.

  • stephen m

    @Sina: Another perspective –

    The main reason [pro-prostitution lobbyists] (who you falsely call “[sex workers rights activists]) want the myth of “[NO] prostitutes are forced, abused women” is because stereotypes such as this makes it [possible for pimps, brothel owners and johns to operate as normal members of society]. As long as sex workers are [no longer] seen as second class citizens and “damaged goods” with no skills, and the sex industry as immoral no matter what the conditions, [there will be no exit programs for prostitutes].

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  • Here in brasil there is this congressman who wants to legalize prostitution. This is making me sick for a while, and most of people think” it’s a matter of morality, that adult women should make their own choices and they have to have the right to do wathever they want with their bodies”. This really pisses me off because they turn our struggle and words into something that fits their conservative desires. What people don’t want to see it’s the difference of opportunities given to women and men. What they dont want to see it’s the men’s dominance and power including the access to womens bodies. People are afraid of changing the status quo,so they would have to confront how shit and sexist they are. (I know some are proud of it)

    This guy, Jean Wyllys, is a gay man, respected in the LGBT community. It’s very hard to oppose his project because people think you are a moralist. His own words say that : “the only people who opposes me are moralists”.

    the name of his project is “Gabriela Leite”, he named so because she is a woman who comes from middle class, ex student from philosophy at university that proves the choice argument. It really makes me sick. He doesn’t even bother that he is negleting what prostituted women have to face, their sufferings, life conditions, treatment they are subjugated to.

    He even says that the project will protect not only “prostitutes”, but sexual tourists! He wants to legalize as soona s possible because of the world cup 2014!!! What a gentleman!Thanks!

    He says more, he says that it will not be difficult to approve his project in the congress as “most of congressmen ‘use’ prostitutes”.

    Solidarity to the native woman from Canada and all the exploited women there.

    Thanks for another great post.

    • Rudy

      No conservative wants to see prostitution legalized. Might be a good alternative to a large male population without access to sex, in addition to providing opportunities for economic advancement to some women too. Probably lead to more exploitation rather than less however.

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  • Varen

    >>Bentham believes that fully decriminalizing prostitution (i.e. decriminalizing pimps, johns, and brothels) will further entrench aboriginal girls and women in street-level prostitution, saying that they are not going to be the ones in the supposedly “safe” indoor escort agencies or brothels.<<

    This is exactly the scenario in NZ. + a huge boom in and acceptance of international trafficking, and exploitation of young and impoverished girls.

  • Sweden’s prostitution policy is in the link below

    A) purchasing “sexual relation for payment” (CH 6, S 11),
    B) promoting or exploiting someone making money from sexual services , and if one owns a premise
    C) renting a place to someone for prostitution purposes and failing to anything reasonable to
    terminate the conduct.

    The swedish laws are are similar to the laws struck down in Canada:

    the negative impact of the bawdy‑house prohibition (s. 210) on the applicants’ security of the person is grossly disproportionate to its objective of preventing public nuisance.

    Second, the purpose of the living on the avails of prostitution prohibition in s. 212(1)(j) is to target pimps and the parasitic, exploitative conduct in which they engage. The law, however, punishes everyone who lives on the avails of prostitution without distinguishing between those who exploit prostitutes and those who could increase the safety and security of prostitutes, for example, legitimate drivers, managers, or bodyguards.

    213(1)(c) is not to eliminate street prostitution for its own sake, but to take prostitution off the streets and out of public view in order to prevent the nuisances that street prostitution can cause. The provision’s negative impact on the safety and lives of street prostitutes, who are prevented by the communicating prohibition from screening potential clients for intoxication and propensity to violence, is a grossly disproportionate response to the possibility of nuisance caused by street prostitution.

    Concluding that each of the challenged provisions violates the Charter does not mean that Parliament is precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.

    [158] It is certainly conceivable, as this passage suggests, that some street prostitutes would not refuse a client even if communication revealed potential danger. It is also conceivable that the danger may not be perfectly predicted in advance. However, that does not negate the application judge’s finding that communication is an essential tool that can decrease risk. The assessment is qualitative, not quantitative. If screening could have prevented one woman from jumping into Robert Pickton’s car, the severity of the harmful effects is established.

    Good luck trying to defend a model that may be unconstitutional

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Screening” doesn’t protect women under legalized regimes. There is more violence against prostituted women under legalized regimes than under the Nordic model.

      • If your argument is true, chances are the Supreme Court of Canada would not have sledgehammered the 3 prostitution laws last December. This decision also is going to be a problem for the Nordic model on a constitutional challenge.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Is the Supreme Court of Canada now feminist? Oh. I didn’t get the memo.

          • The unfortunate thing is sometimes feminists are discredited in the courts through their actions. How about Melissa Farley getting slapped around in the Ontario Supreme Court back in 2010?


            Ontario Superior Court of Justice,

            Himel J.

            September 28, 2010

            [353] I found the evidence of Dr. Melissa Farley to be problematic. Although Dr. Farley has conducted a great deal of research on prostitution, her advocacy appears to have permeated her opinions. For example, Dr. Farley’s unqualified assertion in her affidavit that prostitution is inherently violent appears to contradict her own findings that prostitutes who work from indoor locations generally experience less violence. Furthermore, in her affidavit, she failed to qualify her opinion regarding the causal relationship between post- traumatic stress disorder and prostitution, namely, that it could be caused by events unrelated to prostitution.

            [354] Dr. Farley’s choice of language is at times inflammatory and detracts from her conclusions. For example, comments such as “prostitution is to the community what incest is to the family” and “just as pedophiles justify sexual assault of children . . . . men who use prostitutes develop elaborate cognitive schemes to justify purchase and use of women” make her opinions less persuasive.

            [355] Dr. Farley stated during cross-examination that some of her opinions on prostitution were formed prior to her research, including “that prostitution is a terrible harm to women, that prostitution is abusive in its very nature, and that prostitution amounts to men paying a woman for the right to rape her”.

            [356] Accordingly, for these reasons, I assign less weight to Dr. Farley’s evidence.

            Chances are Farley’s rhetoric likely affected the Supreme Court of Canada decision in December 2013.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I’m actually glad you posted this. Now people can see how completely ridiculous attempts to discredit Farley’s work are. OH GOD. SHE’S BIASED. TOWARDS…. FEMINISM!

            Being a feminist researcher and having feminist opinions which shape your research is a hilariously insane reason to throw out a woman’s research, considering that white men who are biased towards white men have been conducting racist, sexist, classist research for decades, yet they are rarely discredited on that basis now are they?

          • Katie

            I agree with you Meghan! I don’t think even the laws would agree with what the supreme court said using the post of Gear316 who is amazing at proving the other sides point:

            [354] Dr. Farley’s choice of language is at times inflammatory and detracts from her conclusions. For example, comments such as “prostitution is to the community what incest is to the family” and “just as pedophiles justify sexual assault of children . . . . men who use prostitutes develop elaborate cognitive schemes to justify purchase and use of women” make her opinions less persuasive.

            No one would ever claim that prostitution is known for being politically correct or not in need of parental guidance. Evidence from Canadian police forces state many get into prostitution under the age of consent. Our own laws which Gear316 doesn’t seem to mention finds men over the age of 18 that have sex with children are pedophiles. So he comes on here sticking up for pedophiles does he?

            Pedophilia isn’t nice and there is no nice way to put it. The problem isn’t Dr. Farley’s language by using words like incest and pedophilia it is unfortunately a sad side of prostitution. There isn’t a nice way to put that and to expect that is completely insensitive to the abuse many children have experienced.

            I do believe what the supreme court did want was stronger laws because ours weren’t strong enough on those criminals that belong behind bars.

          • Gear316

   Parliament is not precluded from imposing limits on where and how prostitution may be conducted, as long as it does so in a way that does not infringe the constitutional rights of prostitutes.

            The constitutional rights of sex workers trump everything else such as equality.

            [121] Gross disproportionality under s. 7 of the Charter does not consider the beneficial effects of the law for society. It balances the negative effect on the individual against the purpose of the law, not against societal benefit that might flow from the law.

            The clause 121 is something BIll C-36 is going to have a tough time defending against.

            Also pedophilia is already illegal. The issue with many abolitionists are discussing things that are already outlawed over the voices of the CURRENT sex workers, many of whom want NOTHING with Bill C-36.

          • Rudy

            Bias is never good is it ?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Everyone is biased.

          • Rudy

            Correct. Some are more equal than others.

        • stephen m

          @Gear316: I think it is likely that since the Supreme Court cannot draft new laws this decision was made to guarantee that the government had to revisit this “hot potato” issue, do some research, and issue new improved legislation surrounding prostitution.

        • @ Gear316: Judiciaries are only as good as the people who preside in them. The US Supreme Court was wrong LOTS of times throughout history. Plessy v. Ferguson (re: “separate but equal”) comes to mind. What makes you think the Canadian Supreme Court is impervious to error?

          • Courts’ opinions change over time based on what takes place in the societies where they have jurisdiction.


            1985: Parliament passes a law barring communicating in public for the purposes of prostitution in an effort to combat streetwalking.

            1990: The Supreme Court hands down a reference upholding the street soliciting law, saying eliminating prostitution is a valid social goal.

            2002: Police arrest Robert Pickton in a case which would eventually involve the murders of 26 women, most of them prostitutes from Vancouver’s gritty downtown east side.

            2007: Pickton convicted of six murders and sentenced to life. The trial focuses attention on the plight of street prostitutes.


            On December 9, 2007, Pickton was convicted of second-degree murder in the deaths of six women:

            Count 1, Sereena Abotsway[71] (born August 20, 1971), 29 when she disappeared in August 2001 her foster mom reported her missing on Aug. 22, 2001.
            Count 2, Mona Lee Wilson[72] (born January 13, 1975), 26 when she went to her doctors on Nov. 30, 2001 and was reported missing that night.
            Count 6, Andrea Joesbury, 22 when last seen in June 2001 and was reported missing June 8, 2001.
            Count 7, Brenda Ann Wolfe,[73] 32 when last seen in February 1999 and was reported missing on April 25, 2000.
            Count 16, Marnie Lee Frey,[74] last seen August 1997and was reported missing on Dec. 29, 1997.Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case #98-209922.
            Count 11, Georgina Faith Papin, last seen in January 1999 and reported missing in March 2001.
            More victims[edit]
            Pickton also stood accused of first-degree murder in the deaths of twenty other women until these charges were stayed on August 4, 2010.

            Count 3, Jacqueline Michelle McDonell,[75] 23 when she was last seen in January 1999. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 99-039699.
            Count 4, Dianne Rosemary Rock[76] (born September 2, 1967), 34 when last seen on October 19, 2001. Reported missing December 13, 2001.
            Count 5, Heather Kathleen Bottomley[77] (born August 17, 1976), 25 when she was last seen (and reported missing) on April 17, 2001.
            Count 8, Jennifer Lynn Furminger, last seen in 1999.
            Count 9, Helen Mae Hallmark,[78] last seen August 1997. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case #98-226384.
            Count 10, Patricia Rose Johnson,[79] last seen in March 2001.
            Count 12, Heather Chinnook, 30 when last seen in April 2001.
            Count 13, Tanya Holyk, 23 when last seen in October 1996.
            Count 14, Sherry Irving,[80] 24 when last seen in 1997.
            Count 15, Inga Monique Hall,[81] 46 when last seen in February 1998. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 98-047919.
            Count 17, Tiffany Drew, last seen December 1999.
            Count 18, Sarah de Vries,[82] last seen April 1998.
            Count 19, Cynthia Feliks,[83] last seen in December 1997.
            Count 20, Angela Rebecca Jardine,[84] last seen November 20, 1998 between 3:30- 4p.m. at Oppenheimer Park at a rally in the downtown Eastside of Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 98.286097.
            Count 21, Diana Melnick,[85] last seen in December 1995.
            Count 22, Jane Doe —charge lifted; see below.
            Count 23, Debra Lynne Jones,[86] last seen in December 2000.
            Count 24, Wendy Crawford, last seen in December 1999.
            Count 25, Kerry Koski, last seen in January 1998.
            Count 26, Andrea Fay Borhaven,[87] last seen in March 1997. Vancouver Police Missing Persons Case # 99.105703.
            Count 27, Cara Louise Ellis[88] aka Nicky Trimble (born April 13, 1971), 25 when last seen in 1996.[89] Reported missing October 2002.

            His victims disappeared from the Downtown Eastside from 1978 to 2001 and their butchered remains were found on his farm.

            Read more:

            2009: An Ontario Superior Court hearing opens in a suit brought by three former and active sex-trade workers seeking to overturn the prostitution laws.

            2010: Judge Susan Himel strikes down the three key provisions of the laws, saying they were unconstitutional.

            2012: The Appeal Court upholds Himel on the bawdy house law, modified the living on the avails law to specifically preclude exploitation and reversed her on soliciting.

            2013: The Supreme Court throws out all three provisions as violating constitutional guarantees to life, liberty and security of the person. The justices give Parliament a year to craft a replacement law that complies with the Charter.

          • stephen m

            @Gear316: There are also big international pressures with their research and their social experiments successes and failures:

            EU Parliament passes resolution in favour of the Nordic model


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  • Swanlight Song

    im curious- how does having one party criminalized (ie the nordic model) allow women to take steps critical to their safety, when the exchange itself is still being pushed underground because of the criminalization of the pimp/john/client? women working on the street (disproportionately indigenous women who are poor) will remain unable to have time to look at license plates, get copies of drivers licenses, etc- all steps that are critical for their safety as they make the other party more accountable- in which they will be less likely to be violent. moreover, women working on the street will be unable to work together as police will target them due to the criminalization of clients- pushing them to the outskirts of cities, displacing them, and increasing violence against them. these are the same issues that adversely impacted women’s safety under the old laws that Bedford overturned.

    with all due respect, are you sure you are doing you sisters a service by arguing for the nordic model? i am not convinced.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I wonder what it is you mean when you say it is ‘pushed underground’? And what kind of evidence you have around that? I also wonder how it is you think ‘screening’ works when so many women who are able to ‘screen’ are raped and abused and murdered in prostitution? I’ve ‘screened’ men for months, for example, only for them to turn out to be abusive. It’s clear that decriminalization and legalization don’t keep women safe, so what model do you suggest?

      • Rudy

        What exactly do you interpret “pushing underground” to mean ? Too many word games…

    • stephen m

      I think it is a politically naive to read the Supreme Court’s Bedford decision as the Supreme Court’s agreement with the decriminalization of prostitution. This decision was the strongest way for the Supreme Court to force the Harper Government to draft much needed new legislation for prostitution which would be in keeping with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Government was handed a hot potato situation and a year to draft the new legislation. The Supreme Court was putting the Government on notice.

      Lets not forget the adversarial relationship between Harper and the Supreme court at this time. The Harper Government’s attempt to appoint Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court in October 2013. Harper trying to flex his muscle to make it so and the Supreme Court making him back down and eventually appoint Justice Clément Gascon in June 2014.

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