Friday, June 13, 2014

Letter from Canadian sex worker clarifies dangers of Bill C-36

   As a Canadian practically ready to flee the country just because I hate the current federal government so much, I'm feeling empathy with all those poor Americans who endured all those humiliating years under the presidency of George W. Bush.
    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."

6 comments:

Ed Seedhouse said...

No one can sell anything unless someone buys it. Selling and buying are inseparable, you can't have one without the other.

So it is just irrational to think that you can outlaw purchasing something but not outlaw selling it.

I doubt if the Supreme court will be persuaded that the new law is constitutional. The sad part is the damage that will be done between that passage of this stupid law and the supreme court's rejection of it.

Anonymous said...

Legislated morality is always creepy. Sometimes the judges see through it and strike it down, but sometimes they just go along with all the "it's for their own safety" rhetoric.

I think they should make it illegal to be coerced to be a soldier. After all, you could be victimized or killed. There are lots of safer careers. Don't let people expose themselves to violence like that, it's for their own safety.

A Cohen said...

The rescue industry is going wild with this one. A whole country full of women to "save" whether they want it or not! http://paper-bird.net/2014/03/13/white-savior-cat-on-the-rescue-industry/

Anonymous said...

If a CEO is caught with a prostitute, will he be charged?

If a politician is caught with a prostitute, will he be charged?

Since rich and powerful men will always get access to prostitutes, Bill C-36 amounts to class warfare.

Anonymous said...

As folks prepare for the Senate hearings on Bill C-36 this week, they should keep in mind one point that has been almost completely overlooked: Bill C-36, in conjunction with Section 21 of the Criminal Code, will CRIMINALIZE THE SALE OF SEX. PERIOD.

So much for looking out for the victims.

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