Calling offences related to prostitution unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on December 20, is not a win for everyone. MP Joy Smith, who is well known for her stance in parliament against human trafficking, said in a press release, “This ruling leaves police without important legal tools to tackle sex trafficking and organized crime and does not reflect a 1990 Supreme Court of Canada decision which stated that the elimination of prostitution through law was a valid goal.”
In fact, it is now illegal to arrest someone for being found in a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and communicating in public for the purpose of prostitution—not exactly meeting 1990’s goal.
Kate Quinn of CEASE also expressed disappointment about the ruling but says there is an opportunity to create better laws from this decision.
“The Supreme Court of Canada did not appear to hear the voices of the majority of vulnerable persons, primarily girls and women, who are exploited, trafficked, assaulted, murdered and left to live with the consequences of PTSD and physical health conditions,” Quinn said in a press release. “The Supreme Court did not hear the realities of neighbourhood families who endure the consequences of men cruising, harassing and exploiting.”
Quinn says the men who come to john school say they will not buy sex again after learning of the harm it causes to their neighbourhoods, the exploited women and themselves. She adds that the opportunity now lies with politicians to champion new laws that target those who profit from prostitution and those who buy sex—also known as the Nordic Model, as it began in Scandanavia.
“Who are we making it easier for? Those who profit from the buying and selling of sex,” Quinn says. “It’s time to change this and create true safety and security for our more vulnerable persons.”
Smith says the issue is hardly settled, despite the ruling, as it is one that affects vulnerable people.
“There are those who wish to legalize and normalize the industry, those who wish to criminalize all aspects of the industry, and, finally, those, like myself, who recognize prostitution as an industry that is inherently harmful to women and girls and therefore must be eliminated.”
Former laws concerning prostitution may now be quashed, but the challenge has just begun for those who wish to see prostitution wiped out completely.