On December 13, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed three provisions of the Canadian Prostitution law, because the three sex workers who brought in the case violated sex workers’ human & ‘constitutional right to security of the person’ by imposing ‘dangerous conditions on prostitution’. 2014 saw the introduction of a new bill by the Canadian government, Bill C-36, ‘Protection of Communities 7 Exploited Persons Act’, which later was enforced on December 5.
While the Supreme Court paraded around like it inculcated a radical change in the approach to prostitution by reasserting that the constitutional & human rights apply to sex workers too, the democratic proceedings in Canada show otherwise. Bill-36 has been ‘consistently misinterpreted’ retort the Canadian Pivot Legal Society, and further adds that it ‘will result in sweeping criminalisation of the sex industry’, including prostitutes themselves. Some have termed that a ‘hate law’, because the security & safety of prostitutes was not exactly what they had in mind when they’d voted for Bill C-36.
Donald Plett, one of the senators, explicitly stated his priority in this regard: ‘We don’t want to make life safe for prostitutes; we want to do away with prostitution.’ Sex work researcher Jay Levy says that Canada is not the only country guilty of the proper legislation, but other states frequently deny prostitutes the same legislative & constitutional rights.
The biggest question has been of how human rights would apply to sex workers & what laws & policies can be formulated in this regard. How are sex workers’ right to be viewed if human rights can be extrapolated to the fullest extent?
There are a plethora of examples around the world where the courts of a respective country or state have hailed & upheld sex workers’ laws & have also succeeded in questioning the existing prostitution laws. Recently in New Zealand, where prostitution is vindicated, a prostitute won a case against a whorehouse owner. While in New York, more than 1800 strippers won a labour rights case against their managers, who were eligible for a sum of $10 million as compensation. In both Germany & Austria, the courts have upheld the abolishment of the notion of prostitution as ‘immoral,’ thus paving the way for legal reform & the recognition of sex work as work, which can be equally ludicrous.
The European Court has had a different perspective and has viewed prostitution as an ‘economic activity,’ and where it supposedly stands helpless as it cannot restrict the ‘freedom of movement,’ not even for prostitutes. It is a widely accepted & yet an often deluded fact that while court rulings and laws are necessary for reminding those sex workers to have rights too, one cannot solely rely on court rulings to admit the proper laws for sex workers, which protect them from the injustices they face.