The debate about whether to decriminalize prostitution in Canada has been long-standing, and with a discussion today held by Amy Lebovitch of the Sex Professionals of Canada, the Western community is talking.
Many women and men in the sex industry believe decriminalizing prostitution will address various concerns of those in the sex trade, including the safety of sex workers, the ability of sex workers to openly communicate their concerns and the acceptability of sex work in society.
Currently, exchanging sex for money is not illegal in Canada, but there are also no regulations in place to protect men and women involved in the sex trade itself. Canada needs to take action towards decriminalizing prostitution — specifically, the act of soliciting sex itself.
Decriminalizing prostitution will create a safer environment for workers and enable them to be upfront about their business rather than have to covertly work for money.
Amending the law would also change stigmas associated with sex workers and the industry itself.
Although prostitution is stereotypically seen as an act of desperation or a last resort for individuals in dire circumstances, it is in fact a conscientious career choice for many involved.
By viewing all sex workers as victims, we further ostracize those involved and make it a more dangerous line of work. Until prostitution is made socially acceptable in our society, sex workers will continue to be silenced and at further risk of violence and abuse.
Decriminalizing the industry will also make prostitution more transparent so that workers can legally voice their concerns if they are abused without feeling threatened by the law. Currently, many violent incidents are not reported because soliciting sex is a crime.
If prostitution is recognized and accepted as a profession, women and men would be more likely to report abuse and incidences will decrease. Similarly, workers who contract sexually transmitted infections will be more likely to discuss their problems with their doctor due to not being fearful of potential legal ramifications.
There is still contention about whether decriminalization is enough and if Canada should fully legalize the industry.
Though there is an argument for this, Canada is currently not prepared to take the full step to legalize prostitution entirely since our country is still relatively conservative with regards to attitudes towards sex.
Although Canada is unprepared to legalize prostitution, decriminalizing the profession is a necessary first step in order to increase the overall safety of sex workers and acceptability of the profession.
At the end of the day, Canadians must decide what the future of the industry will be as it remains a fixture in our society today.
Being open to dialogue on the issue is a first step.