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Two weeks ago, 11 women in Moncton were arrested for prostitution-related charges. Specifically, there are three laws in our Criminal Code that relate to activities surrounding prostitution : a law against the operation of bawdy houses, a law against living off the avails of prostitution, and a law against communication in public for the purpose of prostitution.
These laws are being challenged as being in violation of Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms , which protects our right to life, liberty, and the security of the person. The argument is that these laws increase the danger surrounding prostitution by preventing sex workers from working indoors at a fixed location, prevents sex workers from hiring security guards, drivers, etc.
This challenge was first heard in an Ontario court that struck down all three laws, but instituted a stay in the ruling taking effect so that the Federal Government could appeal.
The federal government subsequently appealed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice resulted in the communication law being upheld, but the other two laws changing. The ruling on the appeal removed mention of prostitution from the bawdy house law effectively letting the law stand, but with no relation to prostitution , and the living off the avails of prostitution was narrowed to only criminalize situations of exploitation.
After the appeal ruling, the case was brought to the Supreme Court of Canada, where it was heard this June. Until a decision is issued by the Supreme Court and possibly for a period afterward the stay remains in place.