Federal Bill C-36 will endanger sex trade workers, says group
Published Friday, September 5, 2014 3:58PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, September 5, 2014 6:33PM EDT
Stella, a group that defends the interests of Montreal sex workers, is blasting the Conservative government’s C-36 legislation of the commercial sex industry, saying that the changes will endanger people who make their money in the skin trade.
The group held a press conference Friday to denounce the Conservatives’ handling of the issue and noted that Justice Minister Peter MacKay described sex trade clients as “perverts,” a comment he made in June.
The group said that the bill threatens the safety of sex workers by preventing them from offering their services in a public place where there might be minors.
That stipulation will force the workers into dark corners, which multiplies the risk of assault, kidnapping or rape, they say.
Robyn Maynard, who attended hearings on the issue in Ottawa, said that she was discouraged when she saw that the event was rigged in favour of supporters of the bill.
She is trying to remain hopeful that the upcoming round will be more open to sex workers' input.
“From looking at the witness list, the ratio of critics to supporters, it’s very similar,” said Maynard. “But it’s always important to be hopeful. In France the Senate got rid of the part that criminalizes clients because they realize that it’s dangerous.”
Maynard said that the government shouldn’t ignore their input, as the top court in the land has already recognized their objections.
“The Supreme Court ruled that sex workers lives should not be unduly put in danger by criminal laws and we see that it’s happening again,” said Maynard.
“People are extremely nervous about what’s going to happen to their lives and safety when these new laws are imposed.“
CTV Montreal asked Justice Minister Peter MacKay to comment. Press Secretary Clarrisa Lamb wrote back with a written statement.
"The proposed legislation would protect our communities - in particular women, children, and those who are at risk of being drawn into prostitution - from the dangers associated with prostitution, including violence, drug-related crime, and organized crime," she wrote.
"If we do not respond legislatively before December of this year, most adult prostitution-related activities will be decriminalized. Time is therefore of the essence as we proceed through the legislative process, to ensure we have legislation in place to protect vulnerable Canadians and our communities," the written response concluded.