Canada’s Anti-Prostitution Law Soon: Critics Call it Draconian

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By Kalyan Kumar | July 31, 2014 9:05 AM EST

Canada's Conservative government is getting ready with a new anti-prostitution bill. The move follows the Canadian Supreme Court striking down major statutes against prostitution last year. The court ruling had signalled a move towards decriminalisation of sex work. Critics fears that the provisions in the bill will turn counterproductive and appear draconian.

REUTERS/Toru Hanai
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks to the media before a working lunch with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo July 28, 2014. Baird is in Japan for a four-day visit. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government is pushing C-36 bill sharpening punishment for the act of buying of sex. The current laws struck down by the Court will expire in December. So the government is in a hurry to pass the Bill by then.

Offensive Sex Services

According to the government legal brief to the committee that considered the bill, lap-dancing, masturbation in a massage parlour‎ are sexual services or prostitution but stripping or production of pornography are not.

The penalties proposed are jail term up to five years and cash fines that can go up after a first offence. Also anyone receiving a financial or material benefit obtained directly or indirectly from the sale of a sexual service faces 10 years in prison.

The bill targets the "demand side" and the law will be ruthless on those purchasing sex than selling sex per. In that process the Bill seeks to criminalise many services and personal interactions.

There are strictures against advertising sexual services and ban on collective enterprise related to sale of sexual services such as brothels and using online classifieds site.

Child oriented places

The new Bill also puts curbs on explicitly child-oriented places such as schools, daycare providers and playgrounds.

Advocates for decriminalisation of consensual sex work fear that the new bill would erode sex workers' ability to assert their rights. The right to assembly in public or communication in private has been prohibited. With a depleted client base sex workers will suffer economically and lose leverage in negotiating their pay and working conditions.

Swedish model

The new bill emulates the so-called Swedish model in which consumers become the targets. This is a way to choke the demand for sexual services. With the bill erecting more barriers on the market life of sex workers will be getting miserable. There will be hardships in exercising a choice on work after impoverishing them.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai / )
Canada's Foreign Minister John Baird speaks to the media before a working lunch with Japan's Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida at the Iikura Guest House in Tokyo July 28, 2014. Baird is in Japan for a four-day visit. REUTERS/Toru Hanai
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