Ontario Disempowers Prostituted Persons: Assessing Evidence, Arguments, & Substantive Equality in Bedford v. Canada
Stockholm University - Department of Political Science
June 25, 2012
Stockholm University Department of Political Science Working Paper No. 2012:1
To date, living “on the avails of prostitution of another person” has been illegal in entire Canada. That law was challenged in the Court of Appeal for Ontario in 2012, whom essentially found that it prevented prostituted persons to benefit from third parties such as brothel management, escort agencies, bodyguards, or drivers — all whom where perceived as able to enhance the safety and well-being of prostituted persons. Hence, the provision was rewritten by the court, stating that it “applies only to those” who live on the avails “in circumstances of exploitation.” This paper assesses evidence and arguments relied on by courts in Ontario, finding that evidence did not support their decision. In practice the rewrite makes prostituted people, a group which is already subject to intersectional and multiple disadvantages, even more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. Accordingly, the rewrite is found to violate previous Supreme Court case law as well as it contravenes the Charter’s section 15’s substantive equality guarantee, which compels a different decision. By upholding the existing criminalization of purchasers and third parties where they apply, and invalidating the criminalization of prostituted people — persons whom should rather be entitled to social support if they wish to leave prostitution, and rights to damages from purchasers and pimps for having violated their equality and dignity — Canada would, consistent with the Charter, promote equality and facilitate for prostituted persons to leave prostitution, which the overwhelming majority say they want. A similar law is already working in Sweden, and has reduced prostitution many times compared to neighboring countries.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 31
Keywords: Prostitution, Trafficking, Exploitation, Inequality, Canada, Charter, Section 15, Substantive Equality, Intersectionality, Multiple Disadvantagesworking papers series
Date posted: June 25, 2012 ; Last revised: September 18, 2012
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