The Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously that prostitutes can continue with their legal fight, stating that their constitutional rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association and equality are violated by the country’s prostitution laws. Hopefully, they can create some change.
The government is opposed to the legalization of prostitution, but the group of sex trade workers involved in the case argue that keeping prostitution illegal exposes the workers to violence, such as in the notorious Robert Pickton case, a Vancouver serial killer who preyed on prostitutes. They state that legalizing the trade would send a message to predators that they cannot be violated. Furthermore, they believe decriminalization will provide sex workers with the control and safety to decide their own work conditions, instead of being forced to work in dangerous conditions to avoid arrest. While unemployment has reached a high of twenty-three per cent, sex workers say the only way to survive in this economy is to sell themselves.
The government, on the other hand, believes the laws protect the health, safety and security of Canadians and deter the most harmful parts of the sex trade. Prostitution is technically not illegal in Canada, but everything surrounding it is, like living off the avails of prostitution or communicating for the purpose. Some people also argue that decriminalizing prostitution is basically like saying it’s fine to exploit and abuse women. The group disagrees, saying all that the current laws have done is stigmatize sex workers and increase violence.
While a wide majority of sex workers in Canada are women, Aboriginals, victims of violence, and addiction sufferers, the Supreme Court has finally decided that these women matter and that they can have a voice in court. And they’re ready to fight. Who knows how many more years the case will take, but at least it's a step forward for Canadian sex workers.