By Terry Vanderheyden

OTTAWA, December 14, 2005 ( – An HIV/AIDS awareness group is pressuring the federal government to legalize prostitution.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network spokesman Glenn Betteridge maintained that keeping prostitution illegal forces women into so-called unsafe sex. Prostitution “needs to be treated as work, so that sex workers can be protected under workplace legislation just like all other workers in Canada,” said Betteridge, as reported by the Globe and Mail. The group released a report Tuesday in support of legalized prostitution.

The group’s report, among other things, claimed that “. . . HIV transmission is about unprotected sex, not prostitution, and that prostitution does not inherently carry a risk of HIV infection.” Remarkably, the group also claimed there is no relation between women who hire themselves out for sex and HIV transmission: “. . . it is not possible to establish a causal relationship between prostitution and HIV/AIDS,” the report states.

A medical expert on HIV, Dr. Norman Hearst of the University of California, warned at an AIDS conference last year that condom use is no guarantee of safety from HIV/AIDS. “Over time it’s the question of when, not if,” he said. On condom efficacy, “the most recent met-analysis came up with 80%, but even if it is 90%, over time it’s the question of when, not if,” Hearst explained. Aside from AIDS, condoms are also known to provide even less protection from a variety of other sexually transmitted diseases.

Until parliament was dissolved last month, a Liberal-dominated government committee looking into prostitution recommended that the Canadian government legalize solicitation so that prostitutes may legally offer sex for money. The committee, formed to deliberate the merits of NDP MP Libby Davies’ private members’ bill, supported by the Liberals, made its way across Canada to solicit Canadian opinion on the matter.

Canadian politicians who took part in the committee on solicitation in the sex industry wanted the government to legalize solicitation. “It should be legalized and regulated for the sake of people who are working in the industry,” said Liberal MP Keith Martin who sat on the committee.

In October, the mayor of Amsterdam for the first time admitted that the Dutch experiment to curb abuse by legalizing prostitution has failed miserably. “Almost five years after the lifting of the brothel ban, we have to acknowledge that the aims of the law have not been reached,” said Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, as quoted by NCR. “Lately we’ve received more and more signals that abuse still continues.”

See related coverage:
  Canadian MPs Considering Legal Prostitution Propose Visit to European Brothels
  Germany Forcing Unemployed Women into Legalized Prostitution
  Germany Rethinks Legalized Prostitution
  Canada Preparing to Legalize Prostitution?
  Experts on Prostitution Warn Canada on Danger of Legalization

Read the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network report:



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