Canada's new prostitution law take effect

A sex trade worker is pictured in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Wednesday, June, 3, 2014. Canada's new prostitution laws take effect Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014.
Image Credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

TORONTO - More than 60 organizations and agencies from across the country are calling for the non-enforcement and repeal of new prostitution laws that came into force on Saturday.

The groups — which include the Canadian AIDS Society, John Howard Society, and Native Women's Resource Centre — want the new law repealed and the full decriminalization of sex work in Canada.

The sweeping new changes to the way prostitution is regulated in Canada follow a Supreme Court decision last year that found the old laws violated the rights of prostitutes.

The groups say the law will recriminalize sex work while recreating the harms and violence experienced by sex workers under the previous laws criminalizing prostitution.

The groups are calling for sex work to be legal in Canada and say sex workers should have legal and labour rights.

Akio Maroon of Maggie's – Toronto Sex Workers' Action Project calls the implementation of the new law "a sad day for human rights in Canada."

The bill criminalizes the purchase of sex as well as things like advertising or other forms of communication related to its sale, though it provides some legal immunity for sex workers themselves.

The government says the law gives prostitutes the ability to create safer working conditions for themselves.

Critics question that, given that it makes most elements of the sex trade illegal.

"(The new law) views all sex workers as victims of violence, rather than understanding that it is criminalization, isolation, and the denial of rights and freedoms that breeds violence and exploitation against sex workers," the groups said Saturday in a statement.

"We need the full decriminalization of sex work to ensure the safety, dignity and security of all sex workers and recognize that enforcement disproportionately targets black, indigenous, migrant, transwomen and street-based sex workers."

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