Research-to-Action

Bill C-36: No safety or security for sex workers

Rabble.ca
Friday, October 17, 2014

...The provision that criminalizes clients (section 286.1), for example, is intended to abolish sex work. While it is unlikely that a new law will eradicate the sex industry, it will make it more dangerous for sex workers. The criminalization of clients will push sex work further underground and will make it harder for sex workers to screen clients.

In Vancouver the Police Department has already shifted away from arresting street-based workers and instead targets clients. A recent report, "My Work Should Not Cost Me My Life: The Case Against Criminalizing the Purchase of Sex in Canada," demonstrates how this approach makes it harder for sex workers to take safety measures by displacing them to isolated and unfamiliar areas and encouraging them to work alone to avoid police detection.

The report shows how criminalizing clients makes screening harder because street based sex workers have less time to assess potential clients before they enter their cars.

And, even though criminalizing clients means police are still able to respond to violence against sex workers police do not have a good record of responding to sex workers who seek help. For example, the Vancouver Police Department's failure to seriously address the missing and murdered women in the Downtown East side is one of the most well-known examples of police negligence.