Several of Canada's anti-prostitution laws were ruled unconstitutional today, a decision that may make the lives of Canadian sex workers much safer.
According to CBC News, prostitution is legal in Canada, but "virtually every activity associated with it is not." Sex workers were previously barred from "keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and living on the avails of the trade." Even a judge once called these prohibitions "bizarre" — and three sex workers filed a lawsuit saying that the laws forced them to work outside their homes and in unsafe conditions, and kept them from doing things like paying security guards or screening clients. Dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford (pictured, left) told Ontario's Superior Court of Justice that she still bore the scars from being attacked with a baseball bat by a client several years ago. But her job may be about to get a lot safer: the Court just ruled all three laws unconstitutional.
"These laws, individually and together, force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms," said Justice Susan Himel in her decision. Conservative group Real Women of Canada argued against repealing the laws, alleging that prostitution harms women. But being attacked with a baseball bat pretty clearly harms women too, and making prostitutes' jobs more dangerous is hardly the way to help them. It appears that the Superior Court of Ontario has finally listened to sex workers' voices — maybe some in the US will start doing so too.
Image via CBC