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Old 09-29-2010, 12:43 AM   #1 (permalink)

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Default judge decriminalizes prostitution in ontario

Judge decriminalizes prostitution in Ontario, but Ottawa mulls appeal - The Globe and Mail

A Superior Court justice gutted the federal prostitution law in Ontario on Tuesday, allowing sex-trade workers to solicit customers openly and paving the way for judges in other provinces to follow suit.

Justice Susan Himel struck down all three Criminal Code provisions that had been challenged – communicating for the purposes of prostitution, pimping and operating a common bawdy house.

The decision will take effect in 30 days unless Crown lawyers return with arguments that are strong enough to persuade her to grant a further delay, Judge Himel said.

Her landmark ruling drew immediate fire in Ottawa, which has little time to regroup and battle the judgment. A domino effect of judicial decisions could quickly topple prostitution laws across Canada, as happened several years ago with prohibitions against gay marriage.
In her 131-page ruling which took her a year to produce, Judge Himel found that laws set up to protect prostitutes actually endanger their safety, forcing them to furtively engage in hasty transactions conducted in shady locations.

“By increasing the risk of harm to street prostitutes, the communicating law is simply too high a price to pay for the alleviation of social nuisance,” she said. “I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by the public.”
Ms. Scott said that prostitutes will begin pressing immediately for a regulation regime that includes workers’ compensation, health standards and inclusion in the country’s income-tax scheme. “We don’t have to worry about being raped or robbed or murdered,” she said.

“We would like to tell residents and business owners: Don’t be afraid,” Ms. Scott added. “We are not aliens. Sex workers across the country … want to work with municipalities and to be good citizens running good businesses.”
However, Prof. Young also said that the public need not fear that prostitutes and pimps are about to run amok in their communities. Nor, he said, should people allow any distaste they may have for prostitution to cloud the central issue in the case.

“This case is all about protecting the security and safety of people working in the sex trade, regardless of what you think of sex-trade work,” he said. “We have had a moral aversion to the sex trade for hundreds of years, but any time you can do something that increases peoples’ safety, you have done something good.”
The Crown argued that prostitution can be equally dangerous whether it is conducted in a car, an open field or a luxurious boudoir. It urged Judge Himel to also reflect on the fact that prostitution is inherently degrading and unhealthy, and should not be encouraged as a “career choice” for young women through a slack legal regime.

Prof. Young countered that prohibiting communication renders prostitutes unable to “screen” potential clients, hire security or move behind the relative safety of closed doors.


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