Canadian brothels legalised

September 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ontario in Canada has become the latest part of the world to make brothels legal after a long and very complicated legal process.

A judge has overturned a ban on prostitution introduced by the national government in the province, after concluding that the ban on brothels made life more dangerous by forcing prostitution onto the streets.

The female judge Susan Himel concluded that the laws “forced prostitutes to choose between their liberty, interest and their right to security of the person” and urged the national government to regulate the sex trade rather than the ban the practice and force it underground. The court heard from one of the three prostitutes who brought the case forward, who said that she had been beaten and raped many times due to working on the streets.

The controversial ruling has been criticized amid concerns that the state will now become a haven for human traffickers.

In many ways a brave and mature decision to recognize the benefits from a safe, regulated sex industry, Ontario is not alone. According to research of 100 countries worldwide last year from the CIA, 50% of countries allow prostitution. Among this diverse list: Germany, Bangladesh, Switzerland, Uruguay, Belgium, Singapore, Venezula. Germany in particular is an interesting case, with an estimated 400,000 prostitutes working in the country and 1.2m using their services every day – revenues are at least €6bn a year. The state take a percentage of their earnings to cover health and pensions, and sex workers can even unionise.

International Prostitutes Collective logo

This is the logo of the pro-active site the International Prostitutes Collective, a US and UK organisation campaigning for safer conditions for sex workers, in another example of how prostitute groups can form to improve conditions.

On a difficult point for most people to debate pragmatically, a properly organized sex industry can be the only sensible answer. Accept that you will never eradicate the buying and selling of sex, and the next logical step is to make sure the practice does not harm any of the women involved, does not support human trafficking, and does not exploit underage girls. If a state can achieve that, it should congratulate itself for winning a major social and political battle.

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