What’s Current: The Liberal Party of Canada wants to repeal Canada’s prostitution laws

What’s Current is Feminist Current’s daily news roundup.

  • Canada’s Liberal Party wants to put the decriminalization of pimps, johns, and brothel owners on their 2019 platform, thereby repealing Canada’s current laws, which decriminalize prostituted people, but criminalize those who buy sex or profit from the exploitation of others in the trade.
  • Pilot Jane Clegg has resigned from Air Canada, after three decades of being a military or commercial pilot, alleging that the airline forced her and other female pilots to work around disrespectful male colleagues by accepting lower paid, or less desirable routs.
  • Singer Jade Naraine has filed for a judicial review of Toronto police and Crown attorneys, following what she says was an inadequate response to her claim and evidence of a violent sexual assault.
  • Footage posted by journalist, Julie Bindel, over the weekend shows gender identity activists blocking a feminist meeting about the Gender Recognition Act and hassling attendees.
Natasha Chart
Natasha Chart

Natasha Chart is an online organizer and feminist living in the United States. She does not recant her heresy.

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  • Meghan Murphy

    Thanks for sharing this, Martin!

  • Eva Jasmena

    I’m curious about something. The Young Liberals propose consulting with sex workers. What about consulting with ex-buyers? I know a few ex-sex-buyers who actually support criminalizing the buying of sex. They might not agree with incarceration, but they do support criminalizing the buying of sex with heavy fines and compulsory education and did so even when they participated in the business.

    Philosophically, they look at it differently from how some feminists view it. Whereas some feminists view the buying of sex as a consciously political act, the ex-buyers that I know see it as a mental-health problem. From my experience in the trade, I would tend to agree that buying sex is probably less of a political act and more of a pathologically compulsive one.

    In fact, it was through some conversations that I’ve had with some ex-buyers whom I do consider friends that i’d come up with the idea of adding a self-exclusion policy on top of criminalizing the buying of sex. Some ex-buyers felt that due to paying being too difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt, they should be free to add their names to something like a five-year auto-renewable self-exclusion list from gambling, alcohol, and even certain sexual acts that would automatically impose further rules on them. One of them had proposed an idea that I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this site and that’s similar to an idea another poster on this site had proposed once too if I remember correctly. Essentially, some would willingly add their names to a list that would make it a criminal offence for them to even just fornicate. That way, a prosecutor would not need to prove any exchange of money. Instead, she’d just need to prove that he had sex with someone other than his spouse. The idea was that the police don’t spy in people’s homes so would never catch them in the act except at a brothel anyway. The idea, psychologically, was that voluntarily adding their names to the list would serve as a stronger deterrent against their behaviour since a prosecutor would have less to prove to find the person guilty of at least fornication even if she couldn’t prove buying sexual services.

    That said, some also supported some kind of public-education campaign to make buyers aware of the existence of twelve-step groups for sex addiction, screen-blocking apps, filtered internet browsers, and chastity devices and even on how to apply for state-funded voluntary chemical and surgical castration. One had proposed legislation requiring financial institutions to allow debit-card holders to program their accounts online to block their debit cards during certain times of the day or certain days of the week or year and limit cash withdrawals to a certain amount each day.

    I’ll admit that it shocked me initially to learn that some of these men had actually contemplated castration. Some had even contemplated suicide due to the way buying sex affected their mental health.

    As strange as it might seem, perhaps the Government should consult with ex-buyers on the matter of prostitution policy. From my experience though, few of them (and none that I know) would feel comfortable discussing their ideas on the subject in public. The only reason some of them felt comfortable discussing it with me was because I’d initially met them at a twelve-step group for sex addiction (since I struggled with it myself as a seller) and then became friends with them outside of the group. I found that one thing that particularly concerned them had to do with advertising. Seeing brothels at street level irritated them. I remember one proposing another idea that I’ve proposed here before too: to legally restrict the advertising of sexual services to online hook-up and massage sites that would require any advertiser or shopper to ID himself through a SIM, a passport, or a fingerprint at a branch office before he could register an account to access the site.

    I’d proposed to one of them that ex-buyers could create an anonymous website dedicated to ex-buyers who support prohibition, end-demand, or at least strict regulation of the sex trade, but he abandoned the idea saying no one would listen to them anyway. I do find it an interesting philosophical question though of whether some ex-buyers, if they could have the courage to speak out even if only anonymously, could have a positive impact on curtailing the sex trade.

    • Wren

      You’re complicating this issue because you want to feel some sympathy for these men as it probably helps you psychologically in some way. And these “distraught” sex buyers are playing you for a fool. It is a crime to purchase sex and it is morally reprehensible. Of course they don’t support the concept of incarceration but that doesn’t change the nature of what they did. Nothing deceives a soft-hearted woman like a man who says he has no self-control and flagellates with cries of self-mutilation and suicidality. That men cannot control themselves is the biggest and most insidious lie of the patriarchy.

      If you are who you say you are, why in the world would you waste your time with men who bought women like you? You are trying really hard to find your own culpability and to excuse theirs. Ultimately, I have zero sympathy for these men because they had none for the women they bought. If they redeem themselves somehow, then that’s between them and their god. You are not helping yourself by wasting energy sorting them out.

      • Eva Jasmena

        It’s not so much that I feel sympathy for them. It’s that I found it interesting from a political standpoint that at least some ex-buyers actually support criminalizing the buying of sex and would even like to go further than just criminalizing it but also making it far more difficult for potential buyers to access paid sex.

        Politically, this would seem like a resource that we should tap in promoting the criminalization of the buying of sex.

        If the Government ever decides to re-examine our sex laws, then having even ex-buyers speak in favour of criminalization could help. Otherwise, we have ‘happy hookers’ saying legalize and and any ex-provider who says criminalize is dismissed as a trafficking victim (as if only trafficked women suffer from the industry). That way, they can dismiss the harms as relating to trafficking and not to prostitution in its larger context. If we could get ex-buyers who support criminalization speaking out for it, then that increases support for criminalization.

        For example, who can best propose laws against scamming than an ex-scammer? Who could best propose effective laws against child molestation than a child molester? Who can best propose ways to protect against rape than a rapist? Who can best propose laws against the buying of sex than an ex-buyer?

      • lk

        “Ultimately, I have zero sympathy for these men because they had none for the women they bought.”

        Agreed, I don’t feel bad for men who choose to rape women and girls for women with no consideration for the safety of these women, for if they are being trafficked or pimped.

        One of the things pro-prostitution text often does is portray grown-ass men with money, jobs (and often partners and children) as being sad/lonely people who we should feel sorry for…bs.

      • susannunes

        The book “The Johns,” written by a man, Victor Malarek, is the book to read about these sociopaths. It really helps a man has written this, and frankly it is way better than Julie Bindel’s recent book which tries to cover some of the same territory. I swear you finish reading the book hating half the human race. Malarek is completely disgusted with these men. Few of them have any compunction about what they are doing. They don’t care. They just don’t care. Men who buy women are sociopaths. They need to be removed from society, and then labeled sex offenders for life.

      • calabasa

        “If they redeem themselves somehow, then that’s between them and their god. You are not helping yourself by wasting energy sorting them out.”

        It’s taken me years to come to this understanding w/r/t my abuser. I think that’s absolutely the truth.

    • I don’t think radical feminists see the purchasing of sex “as a conscious political act.” What, I think, they know is that prostitution is a critical male sexual institution which exploits and enslaves women, and that men who participate in it, profit from it, or benefit from it in any way, are upholding male power over women. It needn’t be “conscious” at all, and usually isn’t, because it’s as “natural” as gravity to men. It’s not so much that men support it but that they don’t oppose it, and that is truly political.

      And any men who want to oppose it need to do so in a political way as for example joining/supporting the abolitionist movement or by forming their own grassroots resistance groups.

    • susannunes

      I have no sympathy whatsoever for sociopaths.

      These men are rapists, abusers, and they need to be thrown in JAIL and labeled sex offenders for life. That would all but end prostitution and pornography. I don’t feel one bit sorry for them like you do. It wouldn’t break my heart if these men were rounded up and shot on sight. That is how much I hate the sexual exploitation of women and children. I am not going to shed tears for sociopaths.

  • lk

    Thanks for that link.

    “While PCEPA still criminalizes prostituted women in certain circumstances, something Canadian activists are working to amend.”

    The article does not go into detail about this, but does anyone know under what circumstances prostituted women in Canada face criminal charges?

  • lk

    Commenting on whether he thought the party grassroots are pushing for the party to push further left, Trudeau said he “deeply believes” the Liberal party is, “and should be a progressive party.”

    Lol, making it easier for men to be able to rape women and girls for money is not progress.

    “The Young Liberals argue that the current regime puts sex workers at risk and doesn’t address underlying issues such as access to sexual health care and their relationship with police.”

    Prostitution puts women at risk, laws attempting to curb men who fuel the prostitution industry do not.

    How does decriminalizing buying sex help with access to sexual health care?

    It must be difficult to be a liberal voter in canada because there is so much stuff on this platform that makes sense: implementing a pharmacare program; insuring mental health services are covered for all Canadians; decriminalizing drug possession; decriminalizing sex work; and protecting employee pensions.

    Decriminalizing sex work does not belong on that list. There is something very strange to me about a party that claims to care for the health/wellbeing of its people while supporting an industry that relies on the destroying the bodies and health of women and girls.

    • Eva Jasmena

      With what’s just happened in Toronto, we need to make porn less easily accessible too. I can’t imagine a person just waking up one day and deciding to become and incel and then mowing people down in a van. That doesn’t happen over night. There must have been an escalation process. Did he start off with porn? Did he escalate to paying for sex and then ran out of money? Was it something else?

      I’d rather the state better sensor porn like they do in Singapore so as to deter people from paying for sex. I’d rather the state punish people for buying sex like we do in Canada so as to deter them from mowing people down in vans. We shouldn’t be feeding this sexual compulsion by liberalizing porn and then prostitution. If we legalize prostitution, what will we legalize next? rape? We need to de-escalate, not escalate. To de-escalate, we need to deter people from porn and prostitution, not make it ever more accessible otherwise we’ll see more vans mowing people.

      Before anyone says that prostitution is already legal, let’s just remember that if we legalized prostitution, we’d probably see more not less such violence. If we better regulated access to porn, that too could reduce the risk of violence.

    • susannunes

      Time to get rid of Trudeau if he supports human rights abuses.

  • skilletblonde

    Pornography and prostitution are just two more examples of how men have duped women. They are touted as women’s rights issues. Well, I’m here to say, they are not. They are men’s rights issues. Men benefit from porn and prostitution. It is they who profit the most from women selling their bodies. And, I’m not talking about just sex. Whether it’s the street pimps, those that run legal and illegal brothels or those who make the porn–men are the ones getting rich. It has always been a win-win situation for men.

    It’s all very simple. As long as half of the human race can be bought and sold for the mere sexual gratification of the other, there can be no true equality. The dangers to women’s life and health in prostitution and porn are still ignored in society. Never mind, there is no occupation of men where they sacrifice life, health, and safety for women’s pleasure. And, there never will be. It’s 2018. It’s long overdue for men to evolve. In other words, grow the hell up! Women do not owe you sex. It really is a privilege not a right.

    • susannunes

      Real feminists have always been adamantly opposed to both because both are human rights violations.

      It is the idiot “left” that still worships the stupid 1960s “sexual revolution” that is the problem.

  • Jacqueline

    I voted Liberal in the last Canadian federal election. Between Bill C-16 and now Trudeau’s desire to decriminalize pimps, johns, and brothel owners, Justin Trudeau has turned out to be such a disappointment. I among so many radical feminists who feel politically homeless right now. And don’t get me started on how rage inducing it is for me when Trudeau is celebrated as a “feminist”. NO HE IS NOT.

    • susannunes

      If Trudeau is doing this, he needs to be run the hell out of Ottawa. No way should this EVER be allowed.

  • susannunes

    And the illegal trade skyrockets hand in hand with the legal “brothels.”

    Nevada is a shithole for trafficking in large part because of the legal “brothels” in the rural counties.

  • susannunes

    You don’t even get it at all.

  • susannunes

    And labeled a sex offender. That’s all it would take to end it or make it extremely rare.

    Men’s dicks aren’t so sacred that they are willing to risk never working again or finding a place to live. They would stop buying women. There is just needs to be the political will to stop trivializing what this is. The “sexual revolution” did untold harm to women despite the constricting 1950s, and our culture is still polluted with the rot, especially on the so-called “left.” They still think prostitution and porn are forms of sexual “freedom.” They are not. They are the exact opposite.

  • Eva Jasmena

    Alongside proof on a balance of probabilities of buying sex. That way, a prosecutor would not need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that payment was made since that’s one of the harder things to prove.

    Right now, a prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person bought sex. I’m proposing that a prosecutor need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that he fornicated and on a balance of probabilities that he bought sex to receive a heavy fine. That would lower the burden of proof somewhat.

  • Hanakai

    I would support criminalizing pornography. The reality is that child pornography is already criminalized and in the USA, people found in possession of child porn or involved in making child porn can be arrested, indicted, tried, convicted and imprisoned. I am entirely in favor of this. And I do not consider this to be censorship. Having societal norms and standards is not censorship, it is enforcing societal norms, standards and laws. Many countries have laws criminalizing or imposing civil penalties for hate speech, and porn is hate speech against women.

    As far as I can see, pornography is criminal: it involves filmed prostitution, often using women and children who are trafficked. There are porn films were women and children are tortured, beaten, raped, murdered. There is nothing redeeming about this porn and it only makes those who view it worse, coarser, more degraded and more likely to engage in degraded and perverse sexual acts.

    A sexually wholesome and healthy person does not need pornography in order to become aroused. Any decent person sees porn for the ugliness and exploitation and misogyny that it is and finds it repulsive.

    What we should be doing is teaching the young to know and love their bodies, to respect others, how to be loving and compassionate people, and how to use and enjoy their sexuality to bring them into higher love and higher consciousness.

    We live in the age of Kali Yuga, the age of iron, the age of vice, the patriarchal dark age where moral virtue and expanded mental consciousness are at their lowest point. All around us are sick, twisted pathological institutions: capitalism, greed, prostitution, pornography, exploitation, racism, sexism, violence, war machines, brutal economics, and in this sickness, sane healthy individuals become rather rare, as there are so many forces working to make individuals as sick as Kali Yuga cultures are.

    Those among us who are reasonably healthy and reasonably sane have a sacred duty to further heal ourselves, to become whole and holy and sane and happy and healthy, so that we can be effective agents of change working against the unsustainable insanity of modern culture.

    For starters, I think women should have nothing to do with pornhead men. Do not date them, talk to them, spend time with them, reproduce with them. Unfortunately, too many women have been brainwashed to support porn, prostitution and all the other things that degenerate degraded men want, and so feminists have their work cut out for them in raising the consciousness of their brainwashed unconscious sisters.

  • Martin Langevin

    That’s a very valid point. The burden of proof between an alleged buyer and an alleged seller should be no different just because one happens to be a Canadian national and the other a foreign one. I remember proposing something similar but as it applies to sexual assault. It makes sense to apply a similar principle to prostitution too given how both are too difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt while we still want to protect a person from false police accusations of course. There is no way that an immigration judge should be able to find a woman guilty of selling sex on a balance of probabilities when he can’t even prove beyond reasonable doubt that she even had sex. That’s absurd and offensive. Lacking Canadian nationality or permanent residency does not make her less than human.

    I’ve been reading a few of your posts and you’ve certainly given me some food for thought on prostitution policy. Thank you. And I wish you happiness.

    I would suggest a modification to your ideas though. You suggested that for a judge to find a person guilty of fornication, a prosecutor should need to prove fornication beyond reasonable doubt and buying sex on a balance of probabilities. I think I know where you’re coming from here: since we would not have proved paying for sex beyond reasonable doubt, then a judge should find him guilty only of fornication. But if the judge would just be finding him guilty of fornication and not paying for sex or sexual assault, then why not lower the burden of proof even further:

    1. Proof beyond reasonable doubt of fornication and
    2. Reasonable grounds to believe that he paid for sex or committed sexual assault.

    After all, if he’s just going to be found guilty of fornication rather than paying for sex or sexual assault, then there should be no need for such a high burden of proof for the act he’s not even going to be found guilty of.

    Of course the punishment should be commensurate with the crime, and from that standpoint, if there are only reasonable grounds to believe that he paid for sex or committed sexual assault, then a heavy fine might suffice.

    If paying for sex or sexual assault is proved beyond reasonable doubt through due process with all reasonable means for his defense at his disposal (which might even include removing rape shield laws and allowing an inquisitorial trial on request if we’re going to make the sentence so severe), then the person should not leave prison without first being surgically castrated in my opinion.

    This would give a prosecutor two chances. If she can prove the more serious crime, then he’ll not see the light of day without castration. If she can’t, she can still fall back on proving fornication along with reasonable grounds to believe that he paid for sex or committed sexual assault to make him pay at least a heavy fine for fornication.

    As for false accusations, it’s up to the man to not sleep with women he doesn’t know well to avoid such problems. Since a prosecutor would still need to prove fornication beyond reasonable doubt, then all a man would need to do to protect against a false accusation would be to keep his pants on. It’s not that hard, really.

    • Wren

      I don’t understand this discussion. Most prostitution related arrests (whether the prostitute or buyer) are done on the grounds of solicitation, at least in the U.S. No actual sex needs to happen. And if a buyer were punished with publication of arrest, fines, jail time, and a sex offender status, I assure you the number of johns would drop precipitously. And of course, the woman or prostitute should not be arrested but offered services, whether she is a national or not. In the U.S. we have the TVPA which is supposed to offer illegally immigrated people who have been trafficked protection from deportation (of course, the policy is not necessarily enforced, but it exists).

      I’m not sure why it is necessary to make this so complicated. It is certainly possible for an innocent to get arrested (the plumber story, I suppose) but this would become less and less of a phenomena as the industry shrinks due to arrests.

      Now, Canada has adopted the Nordic model (although I realize it may be in jeopardy). Is it not doing anything that the policy stipulates? Meaning, are there no protections offered to non-Canadian trafficking victims who are involved in prostitution? Forgive me if I’m missing something.

      All I know is that any talks of “fornication” arrests sound silly and unrealistic and like it’s playing into the hands of prostitution proponents who say abolitionists are anti-sex. There must be a better way.

      • Eva Jasmena

        A friend of mine’s friend’s fiancee at the time was arrested for working in Canada in violation of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). My friend lent me all of the documents to read for my interest (since she’s writing a book on the subject). The accused was not working in Canada and didn’t even know that she was entering a brothel until she’d entered it (since her host had invited her for lunch for her birthday) and even then only suspected without knowing for sure until the police arrived only 30 minutes later. Through a strange series of coincidences and a very foolish act on the part of her host, the police found her in a compromising situation but not one that proved in any way that she was was involved in prostitution in any way.

        Though these were human-trafficking investigators, they immediately stopped investigating the moment they realized that there were foreign nationals in the house and arrested them all for working in Canada without a visa. Even in the Federal court documents (since the case kept getting appealed right up to Federal court), the argument on the part of the Counsel for the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness was that it didn’t matter that she was arrested in the course of a human trafficking investigation. The burden of proof was still the same as if she’d been preparing meals at a restaurant. In other words, she was accused of working in Canada without a visa and the claim that she was selling sex was a mere detail that was equal to baking bread. The Federal court judge agreed with the Minister’s counsel that that was the correct interpretation of the IRPA.

        The defendant’s counsel had tried to argue that the burden of proof should be commensurate with the criminality surrounding the act. Yes she acknowledged that as long as a person was a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident, selling sex was legal. She argued though that in spite of that, prostitution still contained an element of criminality since buying it was a criminal offense and many other laws criminalized various aspects of it. She argued that for that reason, though she still had to be judged on a balance of probabilities, it had to be a higher balance of probabilities taking into account not only the evidence that the Minister’s counsel actually presented but also the evidence that a reasonable person would have expected a human-trafficking investigator to collect under the circumstances given how the police report itself admitted the existence of a number of witnesses whose statements were never presented and other proof that the police could easily have collected and that one would expect a human-trafficking investigator to collect.

        The judge rejected the argument on the ground that the police had no obligation to continue to investigate human trafficking the moment they arrested her for working in Canada since from then on it had switched from a criminal investigation to an immigration case.

        As for the men in the house, the police just released them since they couldn’t be bothered to collect the necessary proof. The police report itself acknowledged that there was a condom lying on the floor. In fact, the police report stated that the men had admitted to buying sex but one officer never bothered to ask the man he was talking to to identify the woman he’d paid for sex. I mean seriously. Wouldn’t a human-trafficking investigator want to know whom he had sex with or at least whom he’d paid for sex? One would think they’d have at least asked who had offered whose services in exchange for money to be given to whom. That would seem pretty basic. In fact, the police officers’ names had even been censored so that the defendant’s counsel could not even question who the officers who’d written the report were. There were major flaws in the police report. But in the end, it came down to a simple balance of probabilities based on the limited proof that the police actually bothered to collect. The Minister’s counsel even resisted requests to present the names of the officers for questioning and never collected any witness statement herself. Unfortunately, the accused’s counsel could not even access the name of the man the accused was accused of having sold sex to. And the police never even collected a witness statement from him.

        Would it have been that difficult to put a condom in an evidence bag and send it to a lab for testing? They never even collected witness statements from anyone!

        So yes, I’d say that before a judge could rule that a woman had sold sex on a balance of probabilities, he should fist be required to see proof beyond reasonable doubt that she at least had had sex!

        I’ve witnessed police raids of my own after the new law had come into place. I never encountered a case of a woman being falsely accused of selling sex in the police raids that I’d been in (all of the women in the raids I was in were in fact selling), but from what I’d seen, I can see how it can happen. In both of the cases I was in, the men and I were all Canadian nationals and so the police practically ignored us since to collect enough proof against the men would have required more effort than to just arrest the women working with me who were not Canadian since that just required proof on a balance of probabilities, too easy. Since I was a Canadian citizen, the police just concluded that it was legal for me to sell sex, just not for the others.

        Let’s be honest. If the police have a choice between arresting someone for whom proof beyond reasonable doubt is required or someone for whom proof on a mere balance of probabilities is required, which do you think will require less effort? They want to get off work by 5 so they can be home with the wife and kids for supper by 6 after a long days’ work. If arresting a woman for working in Canada without a visa requires proof on a balance of probabilities (and not even that since the Minister’s counsel chooses what proof to present and what to suppress), and arresting a man for buying sex requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, if a police officer wants to clock out on time at the end of the day, which do you think he’ll go for?

        Now as for fornication, why could we not parse it? In other words, why could we not say that if a judge could prove beyond reasonable doubt that a man fornicated with a woman and on a balance of probabilities that he bought sex from or committed sexual assault against her, he could then find the man guilty of at lest fornication. With such a burden of proof in place, it’s not likely that a man just having sex with his girlfriend would get into trouble since there would just be too little evidence. Would you not agree with raising the burden of proof for an alleged seller and lowering it for an alleged buyer so as to match them?

      • Martin Langevin

        You do realize don’t you that fornication was still a criminal offence in some US states until very recently:

        I actually agree with Eve on the idea of separating the burden of proof. In other words, why could we not say that if a judge could prove beyond reasonable doubt that a person committed an act for fornication (which is also a legal term) and on a balance of probabilities that he committed sexual assault or paid for sex, that he could then be found guilty of fornication and pay a heavy fine. Of course this idea might face a constitutional challenge in Canada. A court could argue that banning fornication violates civil rights no matter how much we might raise the burden of proof. And it would most certainly oppose finding a person guilty of paying for sex or sexual assault without proof beyond reasonable doubt of that act itself. I think the idea Eva is proposing (and one I’d proposed before too) sits as a kind of hybrid between fornication and sexual assault or paying for sex. In other words, a person would be found guilty of fornication if we can also prove a probability of having paid for sex or committed sexual assault. I personally would support even revising the constitution to allow such a law for public safety. No one’s right to sex should trump public safety. After all, if a man wants to avoid a false accusation, he just needs to keep his pants on. Since we’d still need to prove at least fornication beyond reasonable doubt, then a man who’d not had sex with his accuser would be pretty safe, right?

        And as for what Eve was saying, I find it appalling that a person could be found guilty of selling sex on a mere balance of probabilities without any need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that that person at least had sex with the alleged client. I personally find it offensive and appalling that the burden of proof for selling sex should be so low for a foreign national.

    • Eva Jasmena

      Yes, we should apply the same principle to sexual assault as we do to buying sex. I’m not sure though if it’s such a good idea to lower the burden of proof that far. You do realize don’t you just how low a burden of proof a balance of probabilities is? I’ve read police and CBSA reports and IB transcripts on the matter (from a friend who’d lent me them to read for my interest). Let me reassure you that a balance of probabilities is a much lower burden of proof than I thin you realize. If we were to lower it to reasonable grounds to believe, we might as well just criminalize fornication itself. That’s not my purpose though. If we criminalize fornication not with the real intention of criminalizing fornication but rather with the intention of deterring prostitution and sexual assault, then in addition to proving fornication beyond reasonable doubt, a prosecutor should also need to prove sexual assault or paying for sex on a balance of probabilities too so as to reduce the risk of a person being found guilty of fornication just for having had sex with his girlfriend without any reason to believe that sexual assault or paying for sex is involved. Unless I misunderstood something?

  • Meghan Murphy

    I mean, who are we supposed to vote for, really? No party represents my interests… I’ve always voted NDP, but I mean, can I really keep doing that? I’m lost, personally…

  • Meghan Murphy

    Well yeah, that’s how the system works here in Canada…

    • Eva Jasmena

      In legal terms, your’re right. In practical terms though, I think most Canadians vote for the party leader, not the local candidate, and the politicians know this unfortunately.

      • Meghan Murphy

        Eh. I’m not so sure about that. When you have to check a name on the ballot, you are really voting for that person to represent you in government… You could be right, I suppose.

        • Eva Jasmena

          What could be interesting for the next Federal election might be for Feminist Current, maybe in collaboration with other like-minded organizations, feminist or not, across Canada, to compile the stance of local candidates on different policies so that people can break away from voting blindly for a party and really start to vote for the best local candidate. Among the positions I’d like to know, I’d like to know where the candidate stands on:

          1. Prostitution and buying sex.
          2. Pornography.
          3. Telecommunications security. For example:

          4. where would she (or he: we might have a pro-prostitution female candidate and a pro-end-demand male candidate for example) stand on at least voluntary registration of prepaid SIMs
          5. Where would she or he stand on requiring any online hook-up or massage site to ID a person before allowing that person to register an account and limiting access to the site to only account holders even if there is no evidence that any sex is being sold?

          6. (more for provincial elections here), where would a candidate stand on requiring a marriage registrar to present a default marriage contract that would include a monogamy clause? Yes, polygamy is a criminal offence in Canada, but not everywhere in the world. In Iran for example, a man can face consequences for taking a second wife but only if the first wife had included a monogamy clause in her marriage contract. In Tunisia too, even though a man can’t take a second wife there legally, Tunisian wives often include a monogamy clause in the marriage contract to prevent the husband from taking a second wife abroad. Tunisia prohibits the contracting of a polygamous marriage in Tunisia but will still recognize such a marriage contracted abroad. The rationale in Tunisia is that a polygamous marriage is harmful but to tear a polygamous family apart just causes more harm. If Canada’s provinces included this by default in the marriage contract, then that would make it more difficult for a person married in Canada to then secretly take a second wife abroad even if the couple leave the country since the marriage contract is a civil contract that may apply in other jurisdictions too.

          7. Where would the candidate stand on counter-addition policies? I’ve suffered from alcohol, gambling, internet, and even porn and other sex addiction (yes, women can face this problem too). Trauma led me to them but I would have appreciated more help. For example, why not require internet providers to block porn free of charge at least on request. Same with online gambling and hook-up sites, etc. Maybe anything advertising alcohol too, etc. If a person who is struggling does not want access to these sites but still needs access to the internet for work or other reasons,then why not give that person the opportunity to get internet access without these vices?

          8. recognizing how abuse begets trauma and trauma begets addiction, where would a provincial candidate stand on an effective self-exclusion policy for casinos and maybe even bars and liquor stores, etc.?

  • Christine

    Radical feminists shouldn’t be in a position to defend anything the Harper government did, either, but here we are.

  • Wren

    Totally. I can’t follow this line of thinking at all. Apparently it is to protect men from being arrested if they WEREN’T paying for sex but just HAPPENED to be in a brothel?? If solicitation is happening in a business (a brothel) which isn’t hard to prove, arrest every single man in the place. Done and done. If that’s not how it’s done in Canada, then they need to change that.

    Why should anyone have a problem with people having sex outside of marriage? For that matter, why marry at all?? And why would a former prostitute marry a john?? Honestly this is making head hurt. I give up.

  • Eva Jasmena

    I’ve witnessed police raids. I’ve been out of the trade for a few years now but I was in it for over a year after the new law took effect in Canada. I always worked with foreign nationals and faced two police raids. In each case the police didn’t even bother trying to collect proof to convict the men and I think the reason was simple. To convict the men required proof beyond reasonable doubt. To find the women guilty of working in Canada without a visa required a mere balance of probabilities. I even know of one case of a foreign woman who was not selling sex, who just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, who ended up being removed from Canada on the false allegation of having sold sex. Meanwhile the men in the same house were released without investigation (and this after the new laws) due to lack of proof even though the other women knew the men were guilty but that woman wasn’t. She didn’t even know sex was being sold in that house until she’d entered it and even then only suspected it until the police arrived maybe 20 minutes after her.

    The problem is not with the principle of the Nordic model. The problem is with its details. Paying for sex is just too difficult to prove beyond reasonable doubt. If we want it to truly have teeth, we need to find a way to make it easier to prove. And more importantly, give the police an incentive to actually collect proof even when a foreign national might be present. As soon as a foreign national is present, a human-trafficking investigation immediately switches to an immigration investigation. In each of the two cases I was in, the police looked at my ID, saw I was a Canadian citizen, and from there totally ignored me. They didn’t even take a witness statement from me, and that was for a supposed human-trafficking investigation-turned-immigration-investigation-real-quick.

  • Eva Jasmena

    Where does it save money? do you realize how common unprotected sex is in the sex trade? HIV treatment isn’t cheap.

  • calabasa

    I think both are very wounded, and both are wounding themselves through the “transaction;” it’s just that the women more often suffer from this the most extreme consequences, and the power-relation is unequal.

    But I do believe both are wounded.

  • calabasa

    I understand all this entirely.

    I’m reading a book right now which explains the purposeful division of women into “wives or whores” under capitalism, and which has been more popularized depending on the current state of the economy (right now not doing so well for the plebs, so prostitution is being pushed). This of course required the creation of gender, the banning of women from the trades, the expulsion of all people from the commons, and the murders of millions for resisting, as well as the femicide of hundreds of thousands for resisting the imposition of gender stratification.

    All of this has made me much more forgiving in my heart toward the man who raped me recently (not the first man who has done it, but the only one I truly believe might be sorry). I feel like male sexuality has been weaponized against women, and that men and women have been set up in antagonism against one another, and it is only if we recognize this that we can get better. It’s both the sexism inculcated in men and the feeling that they are also being oppressed (which for the vast majority of them is true) that makes them angry at our movement; they don’t see that sexism (the idea that we are lesser than them and are owed to them) has been inculcated in them precisely in order to oppress them.

    I think we need to speak our truth louder than ever now.

    I would never reconcile with my rapist; it is impossible. He very much desired to reconcile with me, but I could not possibly do that. I have suffered from intense PTSD and my physical health has deteriorated–a cascading series of disasters resulting from this initial abuse–although I think my mental health has held up remarkably well and I actually might somehow get to even better than I was before–this happening caused me to reflect on *all* the incidences of sexual violence in my life, and on *everything* possible that could have led to such a thing happening–so my goal right now is to focus my energy and time into healing my body (from resulting thyroid disease, alcohol abuse, weight gain, and now a sprained knee) in order to also heal and cleanse my psyche. If that makes sense.

    But, even if a part of me still loved him, how could I be sure this was not a trauma bond? How could I trust him? I could not. I don’t know which is worse from his point of view, that he committed sexual abuse and rape of a person who trusted and loved him and had opened up to him about past experiences of these, or that he forever destroyed a chance of being with that person, and although this question angered me before, honestly it doesn’t now. It must be horrible to know you destroyed a person’s love for you or any chance of being with them because of what you did to them, and I can see how from the perspective of an abuser that is even worse than committing the abuse itself.

    These are existentially and emotionally very tricky issues, is what I’m trying to say. I hope he finds healing in what happened between us–healing through suffering, healing through help, healing through true introspection and true repentance, and in the end, he finds a way to an answer, to truly apologize to me in his heart, and ask forgiveness–as I am starting to; it was truly, as my sister calls it, “an existential experience.”

    I believe (from hearing reports) he also began assaulting women compulsively after what he did to me (or at least, whatever side of him that is, it escalated). I believe many rapists and harassers have a compulsion and a shame about it, which doesn’t excuse them but doesn’t make it any less real.

    We won’t get close to getting rid of sex buying without destroying capitalism, colonialism, and patriarchy–huge tasks–and understanding where those come from; but an understanding of sexual narcissism and how it’s bred into men helps us understand some of their behaviors and reconcile the good with the bad in them, and may help to get through to them, too.

    I don’t know you, so I don’t know how truly violated (as in, raped) you feel by your husband’s first purchasing sex with you, or how the two of you have arrived at a place of understanding, but I feel it’s possible.

    What’s right for me is not necessarily right for you. My ex is also grievously sick and it would have been insane for me to go back to him, but if he were not so sick, and I were truly able to accept an apology for such a thing, and we could truly come to a place of understanding about why this had happened, and why it never could happen again? Who knows. Women stay with reformed abusers all the time, abusers voluntarily enter into therapy all the time, I hope all the time that the abuser really has stopped abusing when this happens.

    But I knew for me, I could not, for so many reasons (I am not near over my PTSD, and merely *seeing* him would be a trigger; he’s deeply disturbed and sick; I think it’s hard enough to move past, say, cheating in a relationship–these certain events that get villain-memorialized, enshrined in a place of venom within the relationship, and flung back in each other’s faces when you’re fighting–much less trying to be the bigger person and never bring up “hey remember that time you *raped* me” ever again).

    However, I understand your confusion w/r/t to the issue and also with regard to the complexity of human beings and of loving someone, and I wish you well.

  • Elara

    Ah yes, but we all saw how they went absolutely batshit over SESTA/FOSTA, saying it would harm women in prostitution and put them at risk. I’m tired of the lack of consistency with them and constantly changing the tune as they see fit. They’re like “Listen to sex workers” but not the voices of the abolitionists among them. Either they ignore them or try and spread doubt if she’s ever been prostituted.

  • Meghan Murphy

    The NDP is worse imo

  • catlogic

    What next from Justin Troondeau? Requiring all women (or just lesbians, probably) to prostitute themselves for trancels? It’d tie up his party’s attitudes quite neatly.

    (I stole that name for him from Tumblr.)

    • Candice Smith

      something that is of concern: if prostitution is legalized, then it’s difficult for women to get welfare and social assistance because we are supposed to accept “jobs” and “paid positions” as prostitutes. While I don’t consider prostitution to be 100 % economic (it’s also rooted in childhood trauma, substance abuse, patriarchal system), economics still play a large role. Also, I can’t see Canada legalizing prostitution or overturning C-36, but I don’t think this issue should even be debated. By the way, the Green Party has a strong position in support of legalized prostitution, with the incredulous claim that some people freely choose to be exploited and abused as prostitutes.

  • Candice Smith

    Hi Ik, my opinion is this: Green Party supports the legalization of prostitution, whereas NDP and Liberals have only debated it. Green Party has the incredulous claim that some people freely choose to be prostitutes. (Just check their website.) So, I would say Green Party is worse. Green Party also states that Syrian leader is worse than ISIS and similar Islamic groups. Again, I would say Green Party is worse.

  • Eva Jasmena

    I think you misunderstood my point. I had proposed that a person could be fined if a prosecutor could prove fornication beyond reasonable doubt AND paying for sex on a balance of probabilities as a way to lower the burden of proof from paying for sex beyond reasonable doubt.

    This would mean that a judge could not find him guilty of fornication unless a prosecutor could prove on a balance of probabilities that he’d paid for sex too. A prosecutor would probably not be able to prove paying for sex on a balance of probabilities if we’re talking about a woman just having sex at home with her boyfriend unless her boyfriend was advertising his services online.

    All of that being said, I am not fascist, but I am authoritarian. Though I believe in the voice of the people, I wouldn’t call myself a democrat. I admire hybrid systems of authoritarian democracy like Singapore’s *though I’m much more authoritarian than that even though I still support the right to vote.