OK, the Conservatives aren't quite up there with Bush in terms of outrageous, poorly informed decisions. But this new anti-prostitution bill they've put forward certainly puts them much closer to the zone. Why would a government of a country known all around the world for its humane laws table a bill that will not only fail to protect sex workers, but in fact will make things quite a lot worse for them across the board?
Read the letter below from a Canadian sex worker, who sent it to the Liberal Party and whose MP Sean Casey read it out loud in the legislature yesterday. This is what Bill C-36 really means to sex workers.
Further criminalization is a disastrous, shameful decision. There's research from all over the world that has already established that. Canada, you are breaking my heart. (Sean Casey's full presentation is here.)
|"Bill C-36 horrifies me—it will have a catastrophic effect on my safety and livelihood.|
|I have been an indoor sex worker for 5 years. I screen clients to ensure my safety. This involves asking for a reference from another sex worker, and then contacting that worker to ensure the potential client was respectful. If it's the client's first time seeing a sex worker, I require their full legal name, employment information, and cell phone number. I have a conversation via phone or email to discuss what services they are seeking, and what I am comfortable providing.... I check the client's information against a bad date list—a compilation of bad clients which is shared among sex workers. I always meet new clients in a public place prior to the session, for example: a coffee shop or the lobby of their hotel.|
|Because I am able to screen my clients, I have NEVER experienced violence during my 5 years in sex work. If you criminalize my clients, they will be unwilling to provide the screening information I require to ensure my safety. I will not have any client information to add to a bad date list should something go wrong. If they've seen a sex worker in the past, they will not want to provide that reference because it will mean they are admitting to committing a crime. I will be forced to accept clients that block their phone number, hide their identity, and have no references. This is a gift to sexual predators posing as clients.|
|Like 90% of sex workers in Canada, I work from an indoor space, known as an “incall”. If I am assaulted in my workspace, due to my inability to screen my clients, I will be unable to contact the police, as this would reveal the address of my incall location. This means police can easily arrest my good clients as they come to see me at my safe indoor location. I also risk being evicted by my landlord.|
|Bill C-36 will have an even worse impact on street based sex workers, who also rely on screening their clients to ensure safety. Street based workers need time to refer to bad date lists, to negotiate safer sex practices (such as condom use), and to assess the client. Bad date lists may include the time and date of an incident, a description of the vehicle, a licence plate number, a description of the person, etc. If clients are criminalized and fearful of arrest, they will try to speed up the process limiting the time a sex worker has to vet their client, and refer to a bad date list. Sex workers will be forced to jump into a vehicle with a client without taking these vital safety measures. They will be forced to work in isolated areas away from police, so their fearful clients will continue to see them. Bill C-36 is a gift to predators posing as clients.|
|This bill will not stop sex workers from working, it will just impede their ability to work safely.|
|Bill C-36 will kill sex workers if it is passed."|