Letter: The Bedford decision was about sex workers’ safety

Jul 8, 2014
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Terri Jean Bedford

Re: “Sex workers, not victims” (Opinion, July 5)

Concordia instructor Francine Tremblay states, “Bill C-36, the federal government’s response to the Supreme Court ruling last December striking down Canada’s prostitution laws, has rekindled the debate over prostitution in Canada, and once again, women are profoundly divided on the issue. We will probably see these divisions play out next week, as parliamentary hearings on the bill begin on Monday.”

I certainly hope that the hearings on Bill C-36 will focus on making a rational connection to the Bedford Supreme Court ruling, which did not find prostitution inherently violent nor inextricably linked to human trafficking. As important an issue as economic rights are for anyone, we’re still in the first stages of rescuing sex workers from the marginalization and violence inherent in criminalization of lifestyles. The Supreme Court prostitution ruling of 1990 found that the economic rights of sex workers is not a Charter matter. So let’s not put the cart before the horse. Let’s stick to the simple task of finding out how Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay have come to the conclusion that prostitution is so inherently violent as to warrant criminalization when the courts over seven years of pondering Canadian evidence, found it is not.

The only groups saying that prostitution is inherently violent and inextricably linked to human trafficking are the same abolitionist radical feminist groups who worked closely with Crown lawyers to form their arguments in Bedford.

Terri Jean Bedford -- Letter: The Bedford decision was about sex workers’ safety

Terri Jean Bedford

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