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Prostitution in Canada: Who, what, where, when



 - Prostitution in Canada: Who, what, where, when

Canada's prostitution laws are in no way simple. This is because while the act itself isn't illegal, all the activities surrounding it are - this means solicitation, living off the proceeds, where you conduct your business, etc. 

So to make things a little clearer we spoke to Ève Lamont, director of the 2010 documentary "The Fallacy" (L'Imposture) which delves the lives of sex workers in Quebec, and Mariana Valverde, director and professor at the Center of Criminology of the University of Toronto, to get a sense of what prostitution in Canada actually looks like. 

But first, a little context:

- Prostitution has always been legal in Canada. In 1892, a ban against vagrancy and bawdy houses were added to the Criminal Code, forcing sex workers into the streets while simulteanously declaring that illegal. In 1972, solicitation was declared illegal.

- In September 2010, Judge Susan G. Himel of the Ontario's Superior Court ruled that three of the provisions concerning prostitution in Canada's Criminal Code were unconstitutional. These provisions included the ban on bawdy houses (Section 210), living off the proceeds of prostitution (Section 212), and communication or solicitation (Section 213). 

- On March 26, 2011, the Ontario Court of Appeals ruled that sex workers should legally be allowed to operate out of brothels and pay staff to support them in their trade. The court upheld two-thirds of the Himel ruling, but decided that the existing ban on soliciting would continue. 

- On October 25, 2012, the Supreme Court of Canada decided to hear a government appeal on the decision to strike down the ban on brothels. 

- A study conducted by the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Justice and the Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws in 2006 found that 75-80% of people engaging in prostitution are women, and that 5 to 20% are street workers. 


Anne Cohen
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