Is Prostitution Just a Job?

GEO CASUALAs the Conservative government reviews their options to replace the law struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada governing prostitution-related activities, two polarized views of what Canada’s sex trade industry should look like have emerged.

One camp believes that now is the time to legalize prostitution and treat it as an occupation like any other, with labour and human rights protections, employment that generates revenue through taxation. Proponents of legalization say that prostitution is a victimless crime engaged in by consenting adults. For them, viewing prostitution through a moral lens is myopic. They say it is legitimate work, albeit in a potentially violent workplace, and that whatever ills accompany the sex trade are exacerbated by criminalization.

Others see prostitution as rampant gender inequality; the exploitation of girls and women that perpetuates the notion that sex trade workers are little more than merchandise; throw away victims of the male demand for sex. They posit that the recruitment of vulnerable young girls, trafficked as sex slaves, demands a solution that precludes blind acceptance and legitimization of the world’s oldest profession.

For them, the Nordic model provides an answer to the problem facing legislators who have one year to fix the law, or be left with no law at all. Originating in Sweden in 1999, and later adopted by Norway and Iceland, this model criminalizes buyers of sex, but decriminalizes the act of selling sex. An important part of Sweden’s law was the creation of “exit” programs for women who wished to leave the sex industry, together with comprehensive social services.

Other countries, such as South Korea, have endorsed a modified version of the model, while citizens of Ireland, France, Denmark and Latvia strongly support it.

But will criminalizing “johns” really curtail the demand for sexual services and lead to the diminution of prostitution in Canada? Sweden’s Ministry of Justice reports that street prostitution has been cut in half and the country is no longer a desirable destination for human trafficking. Surveys conducted in the United States and Scotland suggest that criminal punishment will deter buyers. In a survey of 113 men in Chicago, 83% agreed that jail time would deter them from buying sex and 75% said that stronger criminal penalties in general would curb their enthusiasm for prostitutes. Another survey in Scotland had similar responses.

As for me, I cannot imagine a Canada that would allow young girls (and boys) and women to be used and abused freely, with the government collecting their share of the profit through taxation. I also cannot picture any right-thinking parent promoting prostitution as viable employment for their daughters and sons.

What is certain is that the new law must be able to withstand a Charter of Rights challenge and make no mistake about it, there will undoubtedly be one.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

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5 thoughts on “Is Prostitution Just a Job?

  1. parents will not be present when their children make decisions about sex work. would parents not want their children to be safe is they did choose to engage in sex work? and really, where has any suggested promoting sex work as a viable occupation…? nowhere have the decriminalization camp advocated for that..

    also, once agian…even though written by a so called “law diva”… sex workers ideas on thiss issue are being misrepresented….we are not seeking legalization…we had legalization…it was a disaster…..many sex workers have died…

    we want decriminalization…..protection under the criminal code as other canadians enjoy from murder, rape, human trafficking, exploitation of youth…all of which are illegal after all….

    this argument of no parent wants their child to be a prostitute insinuates that no current sex workers have parents….how about my parents?

    my parents want me to be safe, happy and healthy…how can i do that in a criminalized environment?

    the nordic model does nothing to protect sex workers, ask swedish sex worker petite jasmine…oh wait we can’t…she was murdered…under the very law being supported by many blindly faithful outsiders who have no idea how sex workers live….

  2. One of the things I like about reading websites such as this, is that there isn’t any spelling or even lexical errors! Very good work and also the topic of this blog post. Many thanks!

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