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Background[ edit ] There has long been a general agreement that the status quo of prostitution in Canada was problematic, but there has been little consensus on what should be done. The first recorded laws dealing with prostitution were in Nova Scotia in Following Canadian Confederation in , the laws were consolidated in the Criminal Code in These dealt principally with pimping, procuring, operating brothels and soliciting. Most amendments to date have dealt with the latter; originally classified as a vagrancy offence, this was amended to soliciting in , and communicating in Before the provisions were struck down, the Criminal Code made the following unlawful: This does not specify for any particular purpose, such as sexual exploitation On March 26, the Ontario Court of Appeal struck down part of two provisions, subject to appeal, and the declaration is not in effect.

Lawyers for the respondents pointed out that the last minute appeal left them little time to respond. Automobiles are considered public spaces if they can be seen. On the other hand, working as an independent sex worker and private communication for such purposes telephone, internet, e-mail, etc.

We find ourselves in an anomalous, some would say bizarre, situation where almost everything related to prostitution has been regulated by the criminal law except the transaction itself.

The addition of the communicating provision to the existing bawdy-house and living on the avails provisions created an almost perfect storm of danger for prostitutes. Prostitutes were first driven to the streets, and then denied the one defence, communication, that allowed them to evaluate prospective clients in real time.

Chief Justice Beverley McLachlan wrote: These appeals and the cross-appeal are not about whether prostitution should be legal or not. They are about whether the laws Parliament has enacted on how prostitution may be carried out pass constitutional muster. I conclude that they do not. I would therefore make a suspended declaration of invalidity, returning the question of how to deal with prostitution to Parliament.

They delayed the enforcement of their decision for one year—also applicable to the Ontario sections—to give the government a chance to write new laws. Following the announcement of the decision, Valerie Scott stated in the media that, regardless of the decision, sex workers must be involved in the process of constructing the new legislation: It came into effect on December 6, Prostitution law in Canada Supreme Court of Canada building The passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in allowed for the provision of challenging the constitutionality of laws governing prostitution in Canada in addition to interpretative case law.

Other legal proceedings have dealt with ultra vires issues whether a jurisdiction, such as a Provincial Government or municipality, has the powers to legislate on the matter. In , the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the law which bans public solicitation of prostitution, arguing that the law had the goal to abolish prostitution, which was a valid goal. The Court held that, although the Criminal Code provision that prohibited communication for the purpose of engaging in prostitution was in violation of the right to freedom of expression , it could be justified under section 1 of the Charter and so it was upheld.

The majority found, with a 5: Accordingly, the provision was upheld. In , a decision of the Ontario Superior Court in Bedford v. Canada held that the key provisions of the Criminal Code dealing with prostitution Keeping a bawdy house; Living off the avails; Soliciting or Communicating for the purpose were invalid, but a stay of effect was put in place. This was appealed by the crown resulting in a decision by the Ontario Court of Appeal on March 26, Two of the five judges dissented from the last ruling, stating that the law on solicitation was not justifiable.

The court continued a stay of effect of a further twelve months on the first provision, and thirty days on the second. Both parties had up to sixty days to appeal this decision to the Supreme Court of Canada and on April 25, the federal government stated it would do so. This was upheld by the BC Supreme Court in , but successfully appealed in They dismissed the appeal enabling the case to once again proceed in the court of first instance.

In , they reported a sharp increase in the number of prostitution-related incidents recorded by police for , following two years of decline. Since these are police figures they are just as likely to reflect enforcement rather than actual activity.

This translates into a change in Estimates vary widely, and should be interpreted with caution. Drug use has been found to vary substantially by region and gender: However, all these figures need to be interpreted with caution and compared to the general population. Street prostitution[ edit ] Nearly all law enforcement of the anti-prostitution laws concerns the people involved in street prostitution, with the other forms of prostitution being virtually ignored. The enforcement generally focuses on the prostitutes, and not on their customers.

Consequently, it has become the target of criticism that, while designed to prevent public nuisance, it ignores public safety. In practice, the communication law has not altered the extent of street-based sex work, but merely displaced it, often to more dangerous locations. However sex workers and their support services in Vancouver have been very organised and vocal in responding to media criticisms. In , a public inquiry into missing and murdered women again drew attention to the interaction between safety and legislation.

In , a young Victoria man was convicted on charges relating to the prostitution of a child online. He was sentenced to three years in prison. Patricia Daly, chief medical health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health , was quoted as saying "Our message has always been that you should assume sex trade workers are HIV positive".

This remark was criticised as offensive and inaccurate. Subsequent correspondence showed this figure to be misleading. The data actually represented injectable drug users attending health services. While expansive claims have been made as to its extent, expert reports conclude that such estimates cannot be relied upon. For instance, a report of the Justice Institute of British Columbia states that "Because of the illicit nature of commercial sexual exploitation, there is no way to accurately measure the number of children and youth being commercially sexually exploited.

Estimates of the number of commercially sexually exploited children and youth in BC vary greatly. Enforcement problems resulted from the reluctance of youths to testify against pimps , and the difficulty of apprehending clients.

Bill C[ edit ] The amendments addressed the Working Group report. This applied to pimps who coerce juveniles into prostitution through violence or intimidation, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, and a maximum of 14 years.

Bill C extended some procedural safeguards to juvenile witnesses appearing in court, entitling them to testify outside the courtroom behind a screen or on video. Publication bans could protect the identity of complainants or witnesses under the age of The addition of an offence for obtaining or attempting to obtain the sexual services of a person whom the offender believed to be under 18 was intended to make enforcement of s.

It was intended that undercover agents rather than minors themselves would be used to detect such offences. C was given Assent in April The provinces then expressed concerns that convictions would be difficult to obtain because the Crown had to prove the belief of the accused as to the age of the young person, while the working group were unsure about the constitutionality.

Electronic surveillance was also explicitly allowed, and this was assented in March Several provinces and municipalities appointed task forces to implement the child as victim concept. In smaller BC communities, the sexual exploitation of children is even less visible. It occurs in private homes, back alleys and parks, at public docks and truck stops, and on fishing boats.

Craigslist removed this category on December 18, The Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act February provided that a child wanting to exit prostitution may access community support programs, but if not could be apprehended by police.

They could then be confined for up to 72 hours in a protective safe house , where they can receive emergency care, treatment, assessment and planning.

However, in July , the law was ruled unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the government had already introduced amendments ensuring that when a child is confined they be informed in writing as to why they were being confined, its duration, court dates and the right to legal representation. The child is also given an opportunity to contact Legal Aid and that they may request court review of the confinement. Amendments were also made to enable children to receive additional care and support, including extending the confinement period for up to five days and allowing for authorities to apply for a maximum of two additional confinement periods of up to 21 days each.

So what pimps and recruiters do is keep them off-street," said Raven Bowen, from Vancouver. The report cited as causes of commercial sexual exploitation of children factors such as social isolation; low self-esteem; a dysfunctional family where violence and substance misuse were common; neglect; early sexual abuse or other traumatizing experience; dropping out of school; hidden disabilities, including Fetal Alcohol Syndrome—factors which pushed children into prostitution.

Many children had a history of provincial care in a foster or group home, or living on their own, but some youth from well-functioning families had left home after a traumatic event becoming at risk of sexual exploitation once on the street.

Some children came from families where prostitution was practised by other members, or from communities where prostitution was common. They found that some children were preyed upon by pimps who may slowly gain their trust, befriend them and provide them with food, accommodation and clothes before hooking them on drugs and alcohol and forcing them into sexual service.

However, only a small proportion were found to be controlled in this manner, and older girls frequently introduced younger ones into the trade. Some pimps were considered as boyfriends, the report found. Pimps may use romantic techniques to seduce young girls. Where pimps appeared to be involved in recruitment, they worked in areas where young people congregate such as food courts in malls, community centres and schools, preferring unsupervised venues including fast food restaurants and bus stops but also supervised locations including drop-in programs, group homes, juvenile detention centres, youth shelters and treatment centres.

C amended s. At the same time C simplified such prosecutions which had previously distinguished between prostitution and other forms of sexual abuse. This Bill amended Section MP Joy Smith worked with her colleagues across party lines to gain support for the legislation. The successful passage of a Private Members Bill is rare and it is only the 15th time in the history of the Canada that a Private Members Bill amended the Criminal Code.

Policy issues[ edit ] Policy development around sex work in Canada is complex, divided across areas of jurisdictions and agencies. Issues that policy making bodies need to deal with include which jurisdiction should exercise powers, and which powers. There is debate on how far a government can go in terms of intruding into private lives, and even whether prostitution is actually a problem or merely part of larger problems.

The legal status has been described as "quasi-legal" [12] Debate comes from feminists , civil libertarians , politicians and law and order officials.

The debates range over morality, constitutional rights and freedoms, and the fact that it is one of the few areas of consensual sexual activity that is still subject to legal control. The most recent was the report of the parliamentary subcommittee on solicitation which split on ideological party lines, with recommendations for decriminalisation from the majority opposition parties, and for eradication by the minority government members.

The former majority Conservative government supported the prohibition of prostitution. The polls have also been frequently cited misleadingly. Young people were the most critical of prostitution:


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