• 02

    December 2015

    Police, outreach worker react to Supreme Court prostitution ruling -- News Talk Radio Staff

    The Supreme Court decision to abolish prostitution laws would mainly affect street-level prostitution in Saskatoon if the laws aren't amended within a year, according to police chief Clive Weighill.

    "Im quite confident that the federal government will come up with some new legislation. I don't know what form or shape it will take," he said.

    But if that doesn't happen, Weighill said sting operations would become obsolete because it would no longer be an offence to communicate for the purpose of prostitution in a public place.

     

    Outreach workers say changes favour pimps, leave women at risk. 

     

    A group composed of front line workers at  sexual assault centres across Canada is not pleased with a Supreme Court ruling striking down parts of the country's laws governing prostitution.

    A unanimous decision by nine justices declared sections of the Criminal Code of Canada criminalizing solicitation, living off the avails and operating a bawdy house unconstitutional. The laws will remain in force for 12 months to give the federal government time to come back with revised laws. After that time, existing laws will be taken out of force.

    "This decision will allow men, the men who cause the harm to women, basically legal, free access to women's bodies,' said Hilla Kerner with the Women's Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution.

    While the group agrees that sex workers should not be charged, they worry that if no new legislation is put in place, the criminal justice system will have fewer tools to charge johns and pimps.

    Kerner said that if living off the avails of prostitution is legal, the most vulnerable will be taken of advantage of.

    "Most women are entering prostitution because of terrible poverty and stay stuck in prostitution because of violence of the pimps and because they stay poor."

    Those in favor of the ruling have argued that they need to pay security guards to stay safe, but can't because it would break the law. But Kerner said its a myth to think there will be high end prostitution where women could employ many workers.

    "This will not apply to these women. What it means for these women is that their pimps are going to be free to exploit them."

    Meanwhile, an outreach worker with decades of experience helping women leave the sex trade in Saskatoon echoed Kerner's concerns.

    "I don't want to say it, I really don't, but the Supreme Court of Canada now has opened the flood gates to shady characters living off the avails of prostitution. I've seen it, and its a very dangerous slippery slope we're going down," said Don Meikle, acting executive director of Saskatoon outreach centre EGADZ.

    "Abolishing the laws surrounding living off the avails of prostitution, running a bawdy house and communication for the purpose of prostitution is not going to make things any safer for street-level sex trade workers," he said.

    Meikle's helped thousands of sex trade workers during his 21 years at EGADZ, some young as seven years old.

    "I've never had one that said that she's out there because she wants to be."

    He believes the decision to get rid of laws like living off the avails of prostitution will only give pimps more power.

    "You look at these pimps, like the safety--so they're going to hire a body guard? What happens if they don't make enough money to pay the bodyguard? All we're doing is feeding that whole frenzy of, you know, the pimps are going to get richer because now its legal. It's just bizarre to me."

    While he'd like to see more laws targeting pimps and johns, Meikle believes it's  just as important to get women off the street and into a healthier lifestyle. EGADZ is involved with an initiative called Operation Help, in which several agencies work together to help women and girls to escape the world of street-level prostitution.

    "What's going to really make a difference is society helping these people to get out of this stuff."

    "These women are victims and we need to start treating them like victims. Until we do that, nothings really going to change," he said.

     

     

    2013-12-20​ with files from News Talk Radio's Bre McAdam and Ashley Wills

    • Posted By: News Talk Radio Staff
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