Dal Gender and Women's Studies Collective

Hey everyone,

Sorry for not posting recently, I’m busying traveling across the country and meeting new fascinating feminists.

I just found a letter from the Halifax based Feminist League for Agitation Propaganda (FLAG) that was published after the 2010 Ontario ruling that Canadian prostitution laws jeopardize the safety of sex workers. A Global Post article written during the appeal of the ruling describes the situation. The decision as to whether this ruling will be upheld or overturned is still to be determined. There are many sides to this monumental decision; namely feminists who believe that the law exists to protect sex workers and those who see it as another form of government oppression. 

The FLAG letter argues that decriminalizing sex work allows workers to stay safe, meet clients in public and decide whether they want to take them on or not, provide an avenue to file complaints about abuse without fear of being arrested and so on.

From the FLAG letter:

The press release states that the decriminalization ruling is counter to work done to end violence against women. However, the atrocious violence committed against sex workers in Canada is common and widespread. Striking down the current law that makes it illegal for sex workers to communicate with and screen potentially dangerous clients in a public space or a relatively safe private space before getting into a car with them decreases the risk of assault against workers. The decriminalization of common bawdy houses allows sex workers to ensure their own safety by working together indoors. Striking down the law prohibiting bawdy houses also means sex workers can report violence to authorities without fear of arrest or eviction.

On the other side The F Word blog offers a different perspective, in which the blogger shows the myths she sees behind the legalization of sex work:

The argument that decriminalizing prostitution will improve conditions for prostituted women sounds appealing on its surface. The first time I heard it I thought it made sense. But when I began volunteering in a rape crisis centre and shelter and met women in prostitution, I realized that decriminalization wouldn’t address the reality of women’s lives. This piece is my analysis from my experiences doing front line work, and in working on the Bedford v. Canada case. I’m going to argue that the idea women can be made safer by decriminalizing prostitution relies on a number of myths. I don’t think the position taken by the applicants or the government will help prostituted women, and in my conclusion, I’m going to discuss a third alternative, which was proposed by the intervener I did research for – the Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution.

Do you have thoughts, ideas or quandaries on this topic? Please write to us and send them along. We might even add you as a contributor to our blog (we’re always looking). Send anything to emiliavolz@gmail.com.

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