Canadians respond to the new prostitution law

Dec 13, 2014
Legal
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Even though Bill C-36 came into force last week, the debate is only getting more heated

Bella Clava has been a sex worker in Toronto on and off for many years. She prefers to use this pseudonym to protect her identity, as she’s also a social worker and mother of one young daughter. “A lot of people believe that sex work is inherently violent, but I don’t believe that,” she told me. “What makes it violent are the laws that force us into situations where we don’t have time to screen the people that we’re going to be doing business with.” Last year, she got sick and had to live off Employment Insurance, and decided to go back to sex work to make ends meet. “Without it, I don’t know how I would have made it. I was living off next to nothing and had to provide for my daughter. When I was too sick to work, sex work gave me an opportunity and it saved my life.”

Last Friday, Bill C-36, the new federal anti-prostitution legislation that criminalizes those who buy sex (known as “the perverts” to Justice Minister Peter Mackay) officially came into force. (The timing was unfortunate as it coincided with the national day of action for violence against women.)

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Under the new law, it’s also illegal to “knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services” and get “material benefit” from the sale of sex. Bella Clava says she and other sex workers have no idea how to prepare for life under this new regime–but they are very worried. This sentiment is shared with hundreds of people across the country who are outraged by this legislation, to the dismay of the bill’s supporters. Here’s a roundup of the best responses so far:

“I think that it’s a really sick and twisted day for it to happen … that day should not solely be for women who were murdered by Marc Lepine, it should also be for women who were murdered by Robert Pickton” – Valerie Scott, former sex worker and one of the women behind the Bedford case, told the Canadian Press

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[…] Last Friday, Bill C-36, the new federal anti-prostitution legislation that criminalizes those who buy sex (known as “the perverts” to Justice Minister Peter Mackay) officially came into force. (The timing was <a class="colorbox" …read more       […]

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[…] Bella Clava has been a sex worker in Toronto on and off for many years. She prefers to use this pseudonym to protect her identity, as she’s also a social worker and mother of one young daughter. “A lot of people believe that sex work is inherently violent, but I don’t believe that,” she told me. “What makes it violent are the laws that force us into situations where we don’t have time to screen the people that we’re going to be doing business with.” …read more […]

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