Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Before and After

The current state of Canada's prostitution laws until 30 days from now:
  • It's legal to exchange sex for money. No really, it is, and has been for years.
  • It's illegal to say the words 'Would you like to exchange some sex for some money?' in a public place. This is known as Communication for the Purpose of Prostitution.
  • It is illegal to have a safe place off the dangerous streets where you can say the words 'Would you like to exchange some sex for some money?' in private. This is known as Keeping a Common Bawdy House.
  • If you do exchange sex for money, which remember, is legal, it's illegal to pay rent or buy food with the money you have exchanged sex for. This is known as Living on the Avails of Prostitution. Theoretically this is only supposed to be used against pimps, but has also been used against the prostitutes themselves.
When you look at this literally Kafkaesque patchwork of oppressive, vaguely defined prohibitions you can see why their enforcement is infamous for being inconsistent, capricious and frequently abusive. If you were trying to design a structure with the maximum amount of danger, abandonment, lack of recourse to the law and state sponsored contempt for the women living in the margins of the sex trade, you couldn't have created a better system.

It's priggishly justified, brutally enforced and organized, state sanctioned cruelty on a massive scale against the most vulnerable among us.

Bleating about human trafficking and sex slavery is contemptible hypocrisy if you also support a legal structure of such orchestrated disenfranchisement and victimization that the things you are decrying are virtually guaranteed to happen. If we KNOW that other systems, systems that bring prostitutes under the umbrella of legal person-hood drastically reduce the power of pimps, the spread of disease and the abuse and murder of vulnerable women, then the justifications for maintaining the current system crumble to bitter sand.

What we've been doing doesn't work. The current system has deformed, ruined, and ended lives.

Time to try something new.

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