Waters: Squeamish subject, but safety issue had to be addressed

Ontario court ruling on brothels could change sex trade across Canada.

The world’s oldest profession would appear to be getting a little easier to practice in Canada thanks to an Appeal Court ruling out of Ontario.

There, the Appeal Court upheld a lower court ruling that the country’s ban on brothels is unconstitutional.

While the ruling is not likely to prompt the proliferation of brothels on every corner in the same way B.C.’s relaxation of alcohol sales made wine stores more popular here than Lindsay Lohan pictures to the paparazzi, it will likely be fought tooth and nail by the federal Conservative government.

These are the folks, after all, who made it their lives’ work to stop mandatory registration of all guns in this country. Imagine what they will do when they’re told it’s legally OK for Canadians to keep “bawdy” houses.

The court made its ruling based on concerns for the safety of those working in the sex trade, noting that plying that trade on the streets is inherently much more dangerous than working


In Canada, the buying and selling of sex among adults is legal. But many of the associated activities, such as communicating for the purposes of prostitution, operating a brothel and procuring the services of a prostitute for another person, have, up to now, been illegal. (The ban on communicating was left in place by the court.)

The three women in Ontario who brought the court challenge say the current rules force prostitutes onto the street and that puts them in danger.

But there should be little doubt that prostitution can be a dangerous job no matter where it takes place.

And, as unsavoury a subject as some in society may find it, that danger had to be addressed. And, it would appear that is what the lower court judge, and the Appeal Court justices in Ontario were trying to do.

The rights and wrongs of prostitution itself are another issue entirely.

While many would be loathed to admit it, we all sell ourselves—our brains, our brawn, out abilities—when we agree to work for someone else and get paid for it. Mix sex into the equation and people get squeamish.

But ultimately, what we bring to the table is what we can do. And in the case of prostitutes, it’s their body. As long as it’s really their decision, freely made, they should be free to make it. And to make a living doing it.

Where the problem lies is with coercion. No one should be forced to do anything by someone else. When they are, the full might of the law should be brought to bear on those doing the forcing, especially where minors are involved.

So it appears legalizing brothels could be a two-edged sword. On one hand, it could make it safer for prostitute; on the other it could help those forcing women into the trade to carry on business behind closed doors.




Aliatair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.



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