Canada Has New Prostitution Law, Targets Buyers of Sexual Services
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | June 5, 2014 12:02 PM EST
Canada has a new prostitution law that targets more the buyers of sexual services rather than those who sell it.
Pimps and anyone else who pockets profits or advertises the sexual services of a seller are likewise targeted in the new law.
Convicted offenders who bought sexual services could spend up to five years in jail. Fines range from $1,000 to $4,000. And if the exchange happened in public places, in parks or near schools, more severe penalties could be slapped.
"I'm devastated and heartbroken ... It's essentially full re-criminalization," Caroline Newcastle told the Star, pointing to the ban from advertising on a Web site or communicating online with clients regarding safe sex practices or fees for service.
MacKay said the bill likewise aims to help women exit the prostitution trade. "The bill . . . recognizes that the vast majority of those that sell sexual services do not do so by choice. We view the vast majority of those involved in selling sexual services as victims."
However, a report by the Vancouver-based Pivot Legal Society, a coalition of Canadian prostitutes, obtained by the Star, said the new law will only further endanger the women already engaged in the trade.
The society's report focused on the Vancouver Police Department which has been targeting and arresting "clients" or "johns" over the past five years, essentially curbing street-based sex trade.
Prostitutes in Vancouver, however, found the scheme all the more dangerous for them because it exposes them to "significant safety and health risks" which include "displacement to isolated spaces; inability to screen clients or safely negotiate terms of transactions; and inability to access police protection."
But MacKay said the new legislation was not made to immediately end the trade.
"This will not be a legislative response that will answer all the ills associated with prostitution," said MacKay. "If there were a perfect black and white, simple answer, after thousands of years, I think it would have been discovered."
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