A group of Vancouver sex-trade workers has incorporated the country's first sex industry co-operative with the goal of setting up a legal brothel.
The official documents incorporating the West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals arrived in the mail this week. So far, the co-op has 13 directors, including prostitutes, porn stars and exotic dancers.
Susan Davis said: We're just looking for an opportunity to demonstrate what we believe will be the impact on the health and safety of the entire community by bringing it indoors.
Ultimately, the co-op would be like a safe place for prostitutes to conduct business, as well as a place to offer education and skills training to sex-industry workers.
The group will be lobbying the federal government for an exemption to federal laws against prostitution in order to open the brothel, preferably near the Port of Vancouver. Co-op directors are in the process of drafting a proposal for the federal
government that would exempt the co-op from the Criminal Code prohibition on prostitution.
Davis admits the group has an uphill battle convincing the federal Conservative government to approve a brothel but she is confident. Davis believes there is support for the project, even within the political community. Ideally, the brothel would
be in place by the 2010 Olympic Games, she said.
The federal government has effectively dashed the hopes of some MPs that it will decriminalize prostitution and allow Vancouver “sex-trade workers” to open a brothel to coincide with the 2010 Winter Olympics, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
We are not in the business of legalizing brothels, and we have no intention of changing any of the laws relating to prostitution in this country, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told the Commons status of women committee.
A majority on the committee had urged the government to amend the Criminal Code so that only those who exploit or buy sex from prostitutes would face prosecution. But Nicholson refused.
Buying sex or trying to sell it in public areas where there are people under 18 can be found illegal and punishable by up to five years in prison under a sweeping new anti-prostitution law introduced in Canada's parliament. The government claims
that the new law promotes human dignity and equality, and protects vulnerable people.
A new offence of advertising sexual services would also be created, and police would be given new powers to seize voyeuristic materials, on obtaining permission from a judge.
Previous anti-prostitutions laws were struck down by the Supreme Court which found that these laws were unconstitutional and generated an unsafe environment for sex workers.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay called the new law a Canadian model. He claimed the bill would recognize:
The inherent dangers associated with prostitution, including many of the other real challenges in the country, including poverty, violence, addiction, mental health. And whatever we do legislatively will of course be accompanied with programming
aimed at helping women, predominantly women, exit prostitution.
A lawyer who helped persuade the Supreme Court to strike down the country's main prostitution laws said the new law doesn't answer the court's concerns about safety of sex workers. Alan Young, who teaches law at Osgoode Hall Law School, said
keeping prostitutes out of areas in which people under 18 are found, while also banning advertising of sexual services over the Internet, leaves them with no safe place.
At the end of the day it still raises the question of what is a safe forum for someone to legally sell sexual services. I think the government position is 'we don't want to provide a safe forum.' But that isn't really their call anymore.
Canada's government is fast-tracking a nasty Bill C-36 to criminalise people who buy sex. Here's a glance at what the government is proposing, and what critics say about the changes.
1. Going after the buyers
The bill criminalizes the buying of sex -- or obtain[ing] for consideration... the sexual services of a person. The penalties include jail time -- up to five years in some cases -- and minimum cash fines that go up after a first offence.
2. What's a sexual service ?
The bill doesn't say, meaning it would likely be up to a court to decide where the line was drawn. A government legal brief, submitted to the committee as it considered the bill, says the courts have found lap-dancing and masturbation in a
massage parlour? count as a sexual service or prostitution, but not stripping or the production of pornography.
3. What about sex workers?
They also face penalties under the bill, though the government says it is largely trying to go after the buyers of sex. Under the bill, it would be illegal for a sex worker to discuss the sale of sex in certain areas -- a government amendment
Tuesday appears set to reduce what areas would be protected -- and it would also be illegal for a person to get a material benefit from the sale of sexual services by anyone other than themselves. Some critics have warned that latter
clause could, for instance, prevent sex workers from working together, which some do to improve safety.
4. What about those who work with sex workers?
Anyone who receives a financial or other material benefit, knowing that it is obtained by or derived directly or indirectly from the sale of a sexual service, faces up to 10 years in prison. This excludes those who have a
legitimate living arrangement with a sex worker, those who receives the benefit as a result of a legal or moral obligation of the sex worker, those who sell the sex worker a service or good on the same terms to the general
public, and those who offer a private service to sex workers but do so for a fee proportionate to the service and so long as they do not counsel or encourage sex work.
5. Can sex workers advertise their services?
This is a key plank of the bill, which makes it a crime to knowingly advertise an offer to provide sexual services for consideration, or money. This could potentially include newspapers, such as weekly publications that include personal
ads from sex workers, or websites that publish similar ads. Justice Minister Peter MacKay appears to believe the ban could go after such publications. It affects all forms of advertising, including online. And anything that enables or furthers
what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject to prosecution, but the courts will determine what fits that definition, he told reporters after speaking to the committee July 7. This has been welcomed by
some, including Janine Benedet, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia who supports the bill overall, though she called for some changes. I didn't actually expect to see this advertising provision in this bill but I would
say it's actually a really important step, to say that kind of profiteering needs to stop, she said. ]
6. Can anyone still advertise the sale of sex?
Yes -- sex workers themselves. The bill includes an exemption that says no one will be prosecuted for an advertisement of their own sexual services, though platforms that actually knowingly run the ads may face prosecution.
10. What's the status of the bill?
Canada's current laws, struck down by the Court, officially expire in December, and the government has pledged to pass Bill C-36 by then.
The Canadian government's nasty prostitution bill passed in the House of Commons Monday night by a 156-124 vote.
Injustice Minister Peter MacKay was behind the new legislation, Bill C-36, and took the approach that it would criminalize the purchase of sex, but not its sale.
MacKay called his legislation a made in Canada approach and claimed that it was the best way to eliminate prostitution altogether. By allowing prostitutes to sell sexual services without fear of criminalization, the law won't prevent them
from implementing safety measures such as bodyguards, MacKay has said.
Under the previous law, prostitutes were effectively prohibited from hiring bodyguards because nobody was allowed to live off the avails of prostitution.