Friday, December 5, 2014

Let's stop criminalizing vice already

Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere might be happy. - H. L. Mencken
It was only a year ago, back in the heady days of last December when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down our nation's laws against prostitution.  Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin, writing for a unanimous court said “The prohibitions all heighten the risks. . . . They do not merely impose conditions on how prostitutes operate. They go a critical step further, by imposing dangerous conditions on prostitution; they prevent people engaged in a risky – but legal – activity from taking steps to protect themselves from the risks.”  It was a great moment for anyone concerned about the health and safety of sex workers.  Unfortunately that was then and this is now.  Tomorrow Canada's new anti-prostitution laws go into effect and the veil of secrecy associated with black market activities will once again be wrapped around practitioners of the world's oldest profession.  Driven underground once again by the official condemnation of the state sex workers will be needlessly placed at risk of assault, rape or murder.

Have we all forgotten about Robert Pickton?  The criminalization of the purchasing of sex and other related activities needlessly endangers the women who have undertaken this profession.  Instead of the pointless moralizing of criminalizing vice we should recognize that the purpose of law is not to perfect us all morally but to preserve and defend property rights and to enable redress for the victims of aggression.   The provision against exploitation and advertising will militate against the formation of safe enterprises where prostitutes can ply their trade in relative safety, such as a brothel, and force these women into less safe situations.

If a woman decides to make a living selling her body that is her decision.  How other people choose to live their lives is up to them.  It's not our place to condemn or ostracize people who make choices concerning their own body or their own property which we might not agree with and it is certainly not the providence of our legal system to reform these errant souls.  If only the moral busybodies in Ottawa could learn to mind their own business and stop lecturing the rest of us about how to conduct ours.

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