So, here’s a statement: “It is not a crime in Canada to sell sex for money.” Guess who said it? Well, that would be Beverley McLachlin, the current Chief Justice of Canada.
Well, you know what they say: you don’t pay a prostitute for sex, you pay her to leave afterwards.
Joking aside, Justice McLachlin struck down a swath of Canadian anti-prostitution laws, and gave the government a year to come up with more tailored restrictions. “Parliament has the power to regulate against nuisances, but not at the cost of the health, safety and lives of prostitutes.”
Are you kidding me? We’re over here arguing over whether inbred, homophobic nutjobs can say they’re inbred, homophobic nutjobs, while Canada is busy de-criminalizing prostitution? The best argument in favor of global warming is that it might make Canada warm enough to be inhabited sometime in the future.
Some women’s groups have a problem with this decision, for reasons honestly passing understanding…
The BBC reports that you shouldn’t run north of the border and hand 50 loonies to the first women you see. That’s because (a) she’s probably not a prostitute and will be offended, and (b) the government’s anti-prostitution laws remain in place until Parliament acts:
“The prohibitions at issue do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate.”
“They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky — but legal — activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”
Under the ruling, the Canadian parliament has 12 months to rewrite the legislation or it will be withdrawn. Anti-prostitution laws will continue to be enforced in the meantime.
Still, it seems to me that this is a great day for women’s rights in Canada. But for some reason there are actual women who disagree with me and the Chief Justice:
A Canadian women’s rights group condemned the court’s decision, saying it was a “sad day”.
“We’ve now had confirmed that it’s OK to buy and sell women and girls in this country,” Kim Pate, executive director of the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“I think generations to come – our daughters, their granddaughters and on – will look back and say, ‘What were they thinking?’”
I don’t get it. I understand that some women might think that criminalizing prostitution will prevent men from reducing a female into a sex object who can be bought and sold on the open market. But we’ve got, oh, I don’t know, FIVE THOUSAND YEARS of recorded history that tells us that men are willing to pay for sex and women are willing to rent it out. The “female agency” argument in favor of prostitution doesn’t impress me much — I don’t think people should have the agency to sell their organs to rich people either — but the health and safety benefits of legalizing and then regulating prostitution are obvious.
Nobody is easier to kill than a prostitute. Nobody is easier to rape. Nobody is easier to beat, or mistreat, or take advantage of. Porn “stars” enjoy the protection of regulations, health care, and safe employment conditions. Basically, if you are pretty enough to have sex ON CAMERA, you are protected by the government. But if you have sex in back alleys or in someone’s car, you don’t have protections. How does that make sense? How does that make sense for women? Who are these daughters and granddaughters who think it’s cool for Jenna Jameson to have more legal and police protection for her work than somebody who does the same thing but isn’t “lucky” enough to do it on the internet?
Don’t think for a second that anti-prostitution laws are written by women, for women. The Canadian lawyers defending the government told us exactly what is going on here:
Lawyers for the Ottawa government reportedly claimed “if the conditions imposed by the law prejudice [sex workers'] security, it is their choice to engage in the activity, not the law, that is the cause”.
You see what they did there? Let me translate: “If dirty sluts can’t go to the police when their clients abuse them, then it’s their own fault for being whores.” It’s paternalistic and male-dominated. The government is more concerned with prostitutes reforming their lives than it is with catching men who beat the s**t out of prostitutes.
Thankfully, the Canadian Supreme Court didn’t go for it:
“Whether because of financial desperation, drug addictions, mental illness, or compulsion from pimps, they often have little choice but to sell their bodies for money,” Justice McLachlin wrote.
Let’s not treat prostitutes like they’re some kind of illegal substance. Let’s treat them like people: people with dangerous jobs who probably need all the help and protection society can muster. And the first way to do that is to acknowledge their profession as legal and thus deserving of basic legal protections.