Ottawa escorts say ban on buying sex would be counterproductive

Supposed effort to crack down on human trafficking would make conditions worse, they say

Ottawa-area escorts say the push to make it illegal to buy sex would make conditions worse for sex workers.

This week CBC News has been examining issues surrounding human trafficking and sex work in Ottawa and Canada at large, as lawmakers work on Supreme Court-ordered changes to Canadian prostitution laws.

Anti human trafficking groups want a new law that makes it illegal to buy sex; targeting ‘johns’ instead of the sex workers in an effort to help women forced into the sex trade and made to stay in it.

However, women who choose sex work as an occupation said efforts to make their jobs safer would have the opposite effect.

Frederique Chabot of POWER says a move to ban buying sex would create "such unsafe conditions" for sex workers.
Frederique Chabot of POWER says a move to ban buying sex would create “such unsafe conditions” for sex workers.

Some voluntarily choose sex work

Caroline, who asked that her last name not be used, said she was working as a bartender in downtown Ottawa five years ago, trying to pay off student loans while keeping her marks up.

It was then she decided to quit and become an escort.

“I don’t think that I’m someone who simply doesn’t know any better. I’m quite intelligent, I’m quite calm, certain and self-aware,” the now 27-year-old said.

“I feel like I’m selling my time and I’m selling my labour at a rate of my choosing and choosing the people I want to spend time with,” she said.

Caroline, 27, said she charges $200 an hour and has clients as old as 72, including men, women, couples and people with disabilities.

She said she’s paying down her student debt as she pursues a Masters of Arts degree, seeing two to three clients a week.

“I honestly think this is the best way for me to make this kind of money while ensuring that I can do volunteer work, work on my studies and my arts degree,” she said.

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