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Lawyers fiddle while prostitution laws burn

Mariana Valverde

A prostitute walks with an unidentified male down Toronto's Carlton St. near Jarvis.

A prostitute walks with an unidentified male down Toronto's Carlton St. near Jarvis.

If some current or former sex workers tell us that prostitution as they have lived it is abusive, does that mean the current laws should be upheld?

This week a high-powered five-judge panel of the Ontario Court of Appeal is hearing the government’s defence of the prostitution laws. The three main laws ban “communication” in any public place for the purpose of prostitution, “living on the avails” (which criminalizes getting security or other help) and “bawdy houses.” These laws were struck down as unconstitutional by Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel in October.

To counter Himel’s tightly reasoned judgment, the federal government’s lawyer, Michael Morris, introduced affidavits from former sex workers who have been victimized. Upholding the Himel decision would legalize this violence, he claimed.

Read on...

Mariana Valverde, the author of this piece, is the Director of The Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies. Tom


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