Sex, Fantasies and Exploration

Susan wants to open Canada's first brothel


by Vanessa Charles


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In Canada, prostitution has never been a crime. However, various activities surrounding the exchange are proscribed, including:

1) pimping or living off the avails of the prostitution of others
2) owning, keeping or occupying a bawdy house
3) communicate publicly, in any way, for the purpose of prostitution
4) knowingly transport another person to a bawdy house
5) purchase the sexual services of a person under the age of 18.

Some of the laws prohibiting these activities have been in place for over 250 years.

Sex workers at risk

Since brothels are banned in Canada, prostitutes must walk the streets at night, despite the risks. The risks are serious: a man has just been convicted of the murder of six women, and is suspected of the murder of 43 others, most of them prostitutes in Vancouver's downtown east side.

The sex workers decided to take their fate into their own hands. They have formed a "cooperative" to demand the opening of a brothel before Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Olympics. Susan Davies, one of the organizers of this campaign, tells us about her struggle.

In this sense, in 2010, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, in a landmark decision, ruled that laws that prohibit running a brothel, living off the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purpose of prostitution violate the Charter's right to free expression and security of the person and, as such, cannot be justified by the reasonable limits clause.

"Girls don't go dancing in windows"

Susan Davies, one of the leaders of the group, a prostitute for 22 years, tells us:

"We are not waiting for a green light to open brothels all over the city; we are just asking for an opportunity to demonstrate the impact that the creation of closed prostitution venues would have in terms of safety and public health. Girls don't go dancing in storefronts. The idea is to create a safe environment for all prostitutes, even those most accustomed to the street. Our cooperative is very diverse. We have women, men, transsexuals, people of different skills and social classes. Because the sex industry itself is very diverse. We have Asian, Caucasian, Black, Métis and Inuit prostitutes.

Getting all these people to work together took time. Over the months, we have created procedures for working, joining and making decisions within our group. We want to make sure that no one is going to use our group for personal gain and that sex workers are finally taking charge. The Winter Olympics give us a good opportunity to do this campaign and a deadline to meet.

Arrangements are being made...

Later, in the same case, the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed that anti-prostitution laws put sex workers at risk. It said that sex trade workers would be safer if they were allowed to operate a brothel and employ security personnel to protect themselves. However, the Court says that the laws against soliciting should remain in place.

The case was subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court. In its December 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court struck down all three Criminal Code provisions at issue in the case. In a unanimous decision written by the Chief Justice Beverley McLachlinThe Court stated that it is not illegal to exchange sex for money in Canada. Further, the decision states that the provisions present risks to "the health, safety and lives of prostitutes.

Video on the dangers of these laws in Canada:

Vanessa Charles

A (very) close friend of Cupid and a true lover of relationships of all kinds, I am the main editor of Give Me Date. I answer your questions about couples, sexuality and dating and I test dating sites to give you a subjective opinion on how to find love or meet new people.

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