By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
TORONTO, September 29, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Superior Court judge ruled on Tuesday that prostitutes should be allowed to freely communicate with customers on the street, conduct their business in their homes or brothels, and hire accountants, drivers and bodyguards, without fear of criminal prosecution.
In her decision Justice Susan Himel stated that Criminal Code laws against keeping a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of prostitution violated women’s Charter rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.
The case challenging the prostitution laws was brought forward by three Toronto “sex-trade workers” who hired lawyer Alan Young to represent them.
Young argued that the Criminal Code prohibitions prevented prostitutes from having sex with their customers in the safety of their homes or brothels, and prevented them from hiring accountants, drivers and bodyguards who could be charged with living on the avails of prostitution.
Justice Himel suspended her ruling, which is binding only in Ontario, for 30 days to allow the provincial and federal governments to consider the implications of the decision.
Federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is reported to have said the federal government is “very concerned” and is considering an appeal.
One of the prostitutes told reporters outside the courthouse that Justice Himel's decision means sex-trade workers will no longer have to “worry about being raped, robbed or murdered.”
Young said the decision could allow municipalities in Ontario to follow the lead of other countries, such as Germany, the Netherlands and New Zealand, and some states in the U.S. and Australia, that have legalized or regulated prostitution.
However, reports from these jurisdictions have consistently indicated that the legalization of prostitution has not achieved the expected results.
In 2005, the mayor of Amsterdam admitted that the Dutch experiment to curb abuse by legalizing prostitution in 2000 had 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 Mayor Job Cohen in an NCR report. “Lately we've received more and more signals that abuse still continues.”
Police in Amsterdam's infamous red light district were quoted by Dutch media as saying, “We are in the midst of modern slavery.” Police said they were hampered in confronting the horrors that are characteristic of the sex trade because prostitution was legal.
In 2005 it was reported that Germany was reconsidering its position on legalized prostitution, made legal there in 2003, after reports that legalization had not really had any benefit for prostitutes, nor had it improved the situation for Germany at large.
“When it was set up there was much talk of securing proper contracts, proper health insurance, but a lot of this hasn't materialized because of big holes in the legislation,” said Berlin’s Hydra prostitute advice center spokesman Marion Detlefs.
“Opponents say Europeans need only look to Sweden to see the future of legalization,” wrote Isabelle de Pommereau in a 2005 Christian Science Monitor article. “The country – which legalized prostitution 30 years ago – recriminalized it in 1998, after complaints that legalization had solved few of the problems it set out to address.”
Sweden's ban on prostitution has focused on legislation that criminalized the buying of sex rather than the selling of sex and has resulted in prostitution being nearly eradicated.
The principle behind this legislation is stated in the government's literature on the law: “In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem … gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
Jonas Trolle, an inspector with the Stockholm police unit dedicated to combating prostitution said, “The goal is to criminalize the demand side of the equation, the johns, rather than putting emotionally and physically imperiled women behind bars.”
The results of this strategy are impressive. “We have significantly less prostitution than our neighboring countries, even if we take into account the fact that some of it happens underground,” said Trolle. “We only have between 105 and 130 women – both on the Internet and on the street – active (in prostitution) in Stockholm today. In Oslo, it's 5,000.”
According to a study by the Scottish government in 2003 on the consequences of prostitution policies in several countries, those that had legalized and/or regulated prostitution had a dramatic increase in all facets of the sex industry, saw an increase in the involvement of organized crime in the sex industry, and found a dismaying increase in child prostitution, trafficking of women and girls and violence against women.
The Scottish government report is available here.
See related LSN articles:
Swedish Prostitution Ban An Apparent Enormous Success
Canada Considers Further Legalizing Prostitution While Amsterdam Mayor Admits Legalization's Failure
Germany Rethinks Legalized Prostitution
Germany Forcing Unemployed Women into Legalized Prostitution