Prostitution bill needs more thought

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

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Prostitute walks along Hastings St. in Vancouver, British Columbia, May, 2013.

Prostitute walks along Hastings St. in Vancouver, British Columbia, May, 2013. QMI AGENCY

It is entirely possible the theological place of eternal punishment has reached a temperature slightly below zero degrees Celsius. I actually find myself agreeing with the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the NDP on the same subject. That subject being the new legislation introduced last week by the federal government, dubbed C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

It is the government’s response to last December’s Supreme Court of Canada decision known as Canada v Bedford in which the Court struck down parts of the prostitution laws and gave them a year to come up with a legislative response.

The Court struck down the existing law ostensibly because it needed to do more to protect vulnerable and exploited women. I don’t see anything in the new legislation accomplishing that goal.

Part of the problem is that the legislation seems to want to change human behaviour. This is evident in the preamble: “Parliament of Canada recognizes the social harm caused by the objectification of the human body and the commodification of sexual activity.”

It goes on to say it wants to “discourage prostitution” and wants to reduce the “demand for prostitution.” And it intends to “encourage those who engage in prostitution to report incidents of violence and leave prostitution.”

You may as well ask politicians to stop lying. It is called the world’s oldest profession for a reason.

While the law comes out against those who exploit vulnerable women, somehow they seem to have failed to notice there are already laws on the books to target pimps and human traffickers.

They also sound like the nanny state we typically see in progressive governments. The reality is there are many women who work in the sex trade willingly in Vancouver. They want to be allowed to work from out of the shadows. That will make them safer. This law doesn’t do that.

Celine Bissette is typical of the hundreds of higher end escorts who ply their trade in our fair city. She has been in the business for more than nine years. She does it of her own free will. She said, “I feel that I was vulnerable under the old laws and I don’t think anything has changed.”

As an example, she says if being a ‘client’ is illegal, men won’t use their real name and she won’t be able to screen potential clients first. And that makes her less safe. A good point.

This bill needs more thought. A lot more.


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