Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Rant: On Prostitution

Much has been made about last week's ruling that the laws restricting brothels, communication, and living off the "avails" of prostitution are in violation of the Charter rights of those Canadians who otherwise... for the sake of argument since that was the apparent case here... choose to partake in this particular profession by placing them at additional risk. The thing is, this is inarguable - we do purposely remove the ability of the participants in this profession to establish a safe environment in which to operate largely in the name of disincentivizing while simultaneously turning a blind eye in many cases to the damage this does. In fact, the government's primary "defence" in this case was that the profession was dangerous to begin with so the judge should simply ignore the reality that the laws increased that risk. This is roughly equivalent to a Minister showing up to committee for a budget review and claiming flack jackets are unnecessary expenses for Police Officers because they're at greater risk of being stabbed or otherwise assaulted than shot in this country so we shouldn't bother going further.

Get back to me when that happens.

Even more amusing is Joy Smith, MP from Winnipeg, claiming: “My goodness we would have the nation as the pimp and that’s wrong and we can’t afford that,” while ignoring the reality that we've already had the nation running as outright pimp via the "Stripper Visa" which, while being officially discontinued, in effect simply runs through the regular visa system now. Right there is another case where the people were more concerned with the percieved "moral evils" of stripping than the fact we were shipping in girls to serve at the local meat market - and no one's going to argue all that they were giving out was the full frontal either.

So, why not make prostitution legal? Pretty much every paper in this town funds some portion of it's operations advertising the "professionals" anyways these days...

Moralists like to point to things like: "It destroys marriages!!!". Yet, StatsCan will tell us otherwise:

Geography, place of occurrence=Canada, place of occurrence
Reason for marital breakdown20042005
Reason for marital breakdown, separation for at least one year65,84867,526
Reason for marital breakdown, adultery2,1822,218
Reason for marital breakdown, physical cruelty687619
Reason for marital breakdown, mental cruelty891878

1. Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Vital Statistics, Divorce Database

Yup, that's right, the vast majority of marriages end because one or both of the people involved simply can't stand living with each other anymore. Furthermore, while the stats on this aren't readily available, the reality is that those adultery numbers aren't full of guys/girls picking up strippers/hookers on the side - they're almost always those who feel neglected or are egotistical enough to think they can get away with getting it on with a co-worker (some argue this is 50-75% of the occurrences), or someone you know or have regular contact with - a best friend, relative, neighbour, or worker around the house. Hookers are the least of your concerns. I'd check my browser history for Ashley Madison first.

The next big one is that no one wants a brothel in their neighbourhood. Yet, odds are you already do and don't know. Most are run quietly simply to avoid detection - hell, most of you don't notice when drug lords gut the neighbouring house, steal electricity from you, and grow pot. I also find it hard to give this argument validity because no one wants anything in their neighbourhood these days; be it a freeway or a park full of kids. That doesn't mean there couldn't be somewhere to put such a thing.

The final minor argument is that: "no one grows up wanting to be a prostitute!". Yet, how many people grow up to become what they wanted to be at 5/10/15/20 years old? Those hopes change over time and adjust to current realities and I can tell you right now I've known a few women who found the prospect of being a Serenity style "Companion" appealing - and not just in a Cosplay at the Sci-Fi fest way. Furthermore, the most effective combat against this is not legislation but effective child rearing (in terms of conveying your beliefs and moral standards), and providing means for children to achieve those other dreams you'd rather them be going for.

But, now we get into the uglier bits: the drugs, the health issues, the human trafficing, abuse... aren't these all things that call for appropriate legislation and regulation? Bans on drugs on premisses, liquor licenses, health testing, monitoring/licensing of the "staff", requirements for protection and safety of the workers? Isn't this what we do in every other industry that places it's workers at risk?

There are those that argue that this would be ignoring the reality that there are many participants in this profession who'd operate without licenses because they've no choice. I'd argue you've now got a solid legal method to compensate for that - the establishment of firm legal consequences to non-compliance with the operating guidelines. Furthermore, we live in a country with free health care, welfare, and job retraining programs: if there's a perception in the community that there's no viable exit strategy for a drugged up prostitute... well, maybe we ought to do something about that?

Not only that, but does the potential disincentive of increasing the risk to these men and women justify them being beaten, ignored by police, or treated as a low priority when they go missing or are murdered?

Even more importantly: if we find this profession so objectionable, should it be legal at all and are the consequences of changing the law in that way - forcing it and those involved in it even further underground and into the hands of criminal syndicates just as prohibition did; out of reach of help and even more subject to abuse - worth that change just to satisfy our moral outrage at the worlds oldest profession?

Those are the discussions we should be sitting down and having about this decision: not tossing it at the Supreme Court and hoping it will go away. But we can't because "sex + money = evil" unless it involves sugar-mamas/daddys and no politician worth their salt wants to put their neck out and have an adult conversation on this or any other issue. They're too busy badgering Craigslist into stopping advertising for this altogether despite them being the most proactive of the online sources in combatting the more negative aspects of what's going on online. So, at the end of the day, we'll likely go back to women and men operating without a net as punishment for being in a profession society disapproves of or there's gonna be a bunch of people throwing hissy fits about "Activist Judges"; again ignoring the reality that it's the judiciary's very job when it comes to the Charter to protect "the public" from the "moral majority" to begin with by ensuring everyone is treated equally under the protections it provides.

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