When the Criminal Code’s sections on prostitution were rewritten in 2014 the intent was to focus on the demand for sex services, in order to make prostitution a less risky proposition.
The changes recognized for the first time that the right to safety included people engaged in the sex trade. It was a recognition forced on the government by a Supreme Court of Canada decision in 2013 that struck down key sections of the old law. In the Bedford case, Canada’s top court agreed that prostitutes need to be protected and it agreed with the complainants that criminal sanctions against brothels and those living off the avails of prostitution put them at greater risk.
But there’s a deep divide internationally about how best to protect prostitutes from harm when they’re doing work that’s inherently harmful.
Shouting across the divide are those who believe that prostitution is a job like any other and ought to be legalized; and those who believe that prostitution is violence against women, a vestige of gender inequality that ought to be abolished.