Pictured above is Terri-Jean Bedford & Valerie Smith, two of the women involved in looking fucking fierce!
Today, Judge Susan Himel struck down three laws criminalizing sex work in the Canadian Criminal Code. The laws include: communicating for the purpose of prostitution, living off the avails of prostitution, or keeping a common bawdy house (two of these laws are from 1892 - guess which ones!) The ruling makes working as a sex worker in Ontario much safer, as sex workers can now suss out or background check a potential client, work indoors in the safety of their homes, potential organize unions or work in groups, and report bad clients to the police. If it makes it through the appeal, the ruling will most likely be effective nationwide which means some of my bfs in Montreal will be able to file their taxes.
Here's an excerpt Sex Professionals of Canada's press release:
"Sex Professionals of Canada is delighted by Justice Susan Himel’s decision to acknowledge our right to legally practice our chosen profession. This important victory gives us hope that sex work will one day be fully regarded as the legitimate occupation it is.The invalidation of Section 210 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits bawdy houses, will mean that we can ensure our safety by working together indoors. We can now report abuses of anyone in our occupation to the appropriate authorities, without fear of arrest. Ontario sex workers will no longer be vulnerable to eviction or arrest on our business premises."Read the rest of the press release here.
The reporting (CBC, Globe & Mail, and the National Post) has been pretty balanced so far, though I wish they would give the three ladies who first launched the case (Terri-Jean Bedford, Valerie Scott, and Amy Lebovitch) more space to speak for themselves. As usual, the articles are stacked high with comments from 'expert sources' such as the lawyer, Yonge, who fought for the overruling, Judge Himel, and lawyers and government officials who aren't even involved in the case. Not to mention the deferrals to conservative women's groups like Real Women of Canada.
Tomorrow night, I'm going to celebrate in Toronto at Grannyboots Sex Worker Cabaret - Come! It's free, at the Gladstone, and starts at 7:30 (7:30? Holy shit, I really am living in Toronto!)
Check the facebook event here.
Also, some rad sex worker rights organizations for your perusal:
STELLA (A Montreal organization by and for sex workers)
Commercial Sex Information Services
$PREAD (magazine for and about sex work in North America, I thought it was defunct but the website says differently...)
Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver