Resources

This  resource looks at the Canadian legal system and hierarchy of laws from the perspective of launching a court case to protect the rights of sex workers. It discusses the Canadian law and sex workers' rights, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, limits to the Charter, and how to challenge unconstitutional laws.

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This resource offers a succinct introduction to the Bedford v. Canada Supreme Court case. Bedford v. Canada challenges three anti-sex work laws in Canada which prevent sex workers from engaging in safety measures that would make their work safer. The appellants in the care are challenging the constitutionality of the communicating, brothel keeping, and living off the avails provisions in the Criminal Code of Canada. They say these laws violate their right to Life, Liberty, and Security of the Person as guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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This resource commences by quoting Ronald Weitzer, who notes "the management of prostitution is one of the most invisible aspects of the trade". It goes on to discuss common prohibitionist discourse around sex work, that situates all possible study on the topic on a continuum between deviance and violence, before highlighting that this limited binary is "diametrically opposed to much of the scholarly literature, and, more importantly, to what sex workers are asserting - namely, that sex work is work".

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This briefing from the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network considers the impact of the "Swedish" or "Nordic" model on sex workers.  Examining its harmful effects, this paper argues that this approach would not withstand constitutional scrutiny in Canada.

The briefing also makes recommendations to the Canadian Parliament as follows:

  • Parliament should repeal the section of the Criminal Code that makes it an offence to communicate in a public place for the purposes of prostitution
  • Parliament should repeal the bawdy-house sections of the Criminal Code
  • Parliament should repeal the subsections of the procuring sections of the Criminal Code that relate to bawdy-houses
  • Parliament should repeal the section of the Criminal Code that makes it an offence to live on the avails of prostitution
  • Parliament should repeal the reverse-onus subsection of the Criminal Code as it applies to living on the avails of prostitution

For full details you can download this useful 6 page PDF document above.  This resource is in English.

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