Opinion Column

Canadian prostitution survey misses mark 0

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Finding new laws to protect Canadian sex trade workers isn't an easy proposition. (REUTERS)

Finding new laws to protect Canadian sex trade workers isn't an easy proposition. (REUTERS)

Following the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to strike down federal laws against prostitution, the justice department undertook a national survey on the issue. Those survey results were released this week.

Predictably, 66% said the selling of sexual services should not be illegal, while 56% said purchasing it should be. In the comments portion, it said “the terms ‘brothel,’ ‘bawdy house’ and ‘red light’ were often mentioned, with most of these respondents suggesting that prostitution should only take place in these contexts.”

The reason behind all of this is the concept of keeping those who engage in the selling of sex somehow protected. It is just more of the hand-wringing fallout from the Missing Women’s inquiry.

The idea that somehow legalizing the sale, but not the purchase, protects sex trade workers defies logic. Keeping any aspect of prostitution illegal will keep it underground and does absolutely nothing to protect the women who engage in the act.

Realistically, how can a “legal” sex trade worker operate above board when 100% of her clientele would be committing a crime to do business with her?

It’s fair to think that the legalization of prostitution will allow state regulation of the sex trade by licensing and taxation. But in the real world, if one half of the act is illegal, how would any regulation be enforced?

Equally, the victims of Robert Pickton were the most marginalized in society, including drug addictions. They were people who don’t live by a schedule, keep appointments or file tax returns. How does any of this address the protection of those women, which is where the whole conversation started?

As stated on the justice website, “Prostitution is a complex and controversial social issue.” No truer words could be stated. The Supreme Court gave the government one year to address the issue of prostitution in Canada. The survey consisted of just six questions and was weighted towards getting the response the justice department did.

The survey was merely an exercise in futility and does little to address this “complex and controversial issue.” I certainly don’t have the answers to the prostitution conundrum. But I fail to see how a six-question survey can be considered a serious effort to find those answers to respond to the Supreme Court.

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.  

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