By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday July 8, 2014
Justice minister expects legal challenge to proposed law
Current and former sex workers led the debate on proposed changes to Canada’s prostitution laws Monday, making their cases for and against the legislation.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay kicked off a week of justice committee meetings by warning MPs that prostitution will be decriminalized if his proposed legislation isn’t in place by the end of the year. He told reporters following the meeting that he expects a Supreme Court challenge if Parliament passes the bill into law.
Timea Nagy of Walk With Me Canada Victims’ Services said she supports the government’s proposed law, and says the vast majority of sex workers are forced into the industry.
Nagy described her horrifying experience as a victim of human trafficking. Her first encounter was with three men at a massage parlour.
“I closed my eyes, and I looked up and I was thinking that if anyone would have seen this, would anyone come and rescue me? Only to find out later that my so-called bodyguard was watching the whole thing on video,” she said.
“I was indoors, it was safe, they paid for their services, but nobody told me the rules because I was new to it, so I was raped for about an hour by three different men.”
The Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s old prostitution law last December in a ruling known as Bedford, and gave it a year to replace it with one that would comply with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
MPs also heard from current and former sex workers who say they chose their profession and want to be able to protect themselves.
“If this bill becomes law, clients will not provide information on themselves, which is essential to protect ourselves from people who are badly intentioned,” said Émilie Laliberté, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform.
“This approach is in contradiction with the Bedford decision because it criminalizes clients as well as our professional and personal relationships and infringes upon our right to personal safety.”
One argument against the legislation is that it infringes on workers’ right to expression because it limits how they advertise their services. (Source: CBC News)
Posted to iPolitics.com.