Posted on | September 28, 2010 | No Comments
In a surprise move today, the Ontario Supreme Court invalidated three large segments of the Canadian legislation surrounding prostitution activities. Considering mainly the risks to the personal security of sex workers brought about by current laws, the ruling brings down articles against keeping a bawdy house, communicating about prostitution, and paying wages to a third party out of the proceeds of prostitution.
The conservative government, through the Minister for Justice, seriously considers appealing the verdict. The plaintiffs on their side call this their “Emancipation Day”. A religious organization is worried for the values that are presumably brought down. It may be necessary to remind everyone here to take a deep breath, and consider the full reach of this ruling.
The right to physical integrity is the leading imperative behind the judge’s decision. Prostitutes will soon be able (barring an appeal) to hire bodyguards, drivers, even receptionists to help manage their business. The other side of the medal is that the industry will also be burdened with the same responsibilities incurred by every other personal and corporate citizen: paying sales and income tax, EI premiums, and so on. I would wager that right after the bodyguards are hired, the chartered accountant will follow suit, as entire business models will need to be re-examined in the light of this new reality.
The right to physical integrity also brings about basic notions of cleanliness and disease prevention. The customer also has the right to be protected. A mature government should immediately start defining the working conditions surrounding prostitution (medical check-ups, use of condoms, minimal distance from schools, etc.) and bill the customer. Of course, if the world’s oldest job is recognized and openly practiced, a huge market distortion is alleviated as organized crime can no longer use the secrecy surrounding these activities to cash in and raise prices. If open markets lower prices instead, the government should seize the opportunity to fill its coffers.
After all, I’m a bit tired to be the only one paying my taxes year after year. I’m quite happy then to see that others want to join the club.