Female judge strikes down laws prohibiting prostitution

Here’s the news story from the National Post.


In her decision released Tuesday, Justice Susan Himel concluded that prohibiting sex-trade workers from operating a common bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution and communicating for the purposes of prostitution, violate the Charter of Rights.

“I have found that the law as it stands, is currently contributing to the danger faced by prostitutes,” Judge Himel wrote in a 131-page ruling.

The three sections of the Criminal Code ruled unconstitutional, “force prostitutes to choose between their liberty interest and their right to security of the person,” she said.

The long-awaited decision stems from a constitutional challenge initiated last year by three women involved in the sex trade.

“It is important to state at the outset what this case is not about: The court has not been called upon to decide whether or not there is a constitutional right to sell sex or to decide which policy model regarding prostitution is better,” Judge Himel said. “Rather, it is the court’s task to decide the merits of this particular legal challenge, which is whether certain provisions of the Criminal Code are in violation of the Charter.”

[…]“We want to be good citizens and now we can,” said Valerie Scott, executive director of the Sex Professionals of Canada and one of the three women in the constitutional challenge.

I think I understand women fairly well, and I think that what was going through Susan Himel’s head was something like this: “if I make this legal, then women who do this sort of thing will feel a lot better about it, because no one will judge them since it’s legal”.

Barbara Kay weighs in here.

I read one feminist web site that called Ms. Himel’s decision “Excellent News”, but I didn’t want to link to them. I would say that legalized prostitution is consistent with feminism’s promotion of non-marital sex as a way of eliminating the unequal gender roles inherent in marriage.

42 thoughts on “Female judge strikes down laws prohibiting prostitution”

  1. I think you’re mistaken on her reasoning– the justification I usually hear is that it’s safer to be a hooker in a cathouse than on the street. (Amorally, there’s justification for this, between the way pimps are and the number of hookers who have become easy pickings for serial killers. It’s also harder to force women into prostitution when you have a permanent address.)

    The result is what you suggest, I just think she has a more sophisticated justification.


    1. You’re probably right.

      Still though, I am not sure that it is a good idea to make it safer to do something bad. We don’t make it safer for bank robbers to rob banks. Otherwise we would have a lot MORE people robbing banks.


      1. Of course we make it safer to rob banks– tellers aren’t supposed to resist, even if they’re sure they can beat the robber. Even if the robber isn’t armed.


  2. Wow. What’s next? They’ve struck down prostitution laws, changed “marriage” to include “same sex”, and are trying to legalize group marriage. Is there a morally questionable behavior that won’t be legalized (read “endorsed by government”)? Probably not.

    I was surprised at the commentary in the article. The judge apparently legalized it because murder of prostitutes was bad. Now THAT is good thinkin’ …?


  3. Aaargh… So let me guess this straight:
    In the eyes of a radical feminist, it’s a terrible thing when a woman chooses to drop a career in finance to take up the vocation of wife and mother. That woman is a slave. In the eyes of the same feminist it is liberating for a woman to choose to sell her body to multiple men she doesn’t even know. It’s a viable and respectable career choice. To this feminist, it’s bad when a man wants to assume a leadership role in his marriage and take charge of his wife’s welfare, but it’s perfectly acceptable for him to treat a woman like an object that exists solely for his self-gratification. Oh and this feminist thinks it’s wrong for a man to have some expectation that his wife will want to express her love for him sexually in the exclusivity of marriage, but it’s fine for him to treat sex as a commodity that one exchanges with anonymous strangers in exchange for money.

    So much for feminism being empowering to women…


    1. I just cannot believe that prostitution is good for women. And I think the way to fight it is by passing laws to promote marrying and staying married. If we have to take every penny out of single-motherhood welfare and put all of that money into significant child tax credits for the children of stable married couples, up to age 18, then we should do that. Every daughter needs a father. They need a father’s love to shield them from the world.


  4. Foxfier, I have heard that rationale. But the thing is that human traffickers lure women from other countries to countries where it is legal. There’s still plenty of abuse. The Red Cord ministry to women in prostitution in the Netherlands, where it is legal, has documented this. So legalizing it doesn’t even work to stop abuse.


    1. I am not sure if she is agreeing with that rationale, so much as explaining that this is what the judge says.

      But I agree with you. When you legalize something, you get more of it. And I don’t want women to see men at their worst like that. I just don’t want it.


  5. Yeah, I also have a hunch that Foxfier doesn’t approve of the ruling. I’m just pointing out that it doesn’t even make sense on secular grounds.


    1. There’s also the claim that, once legalized “no woman will be forced into it” by legal means– although I believe that was shown to be wrong several years ago when a woman in …Germany?… had her unemployment terminated when she refused an offer of work as a whore. Hey, it’s work she was qualified for, just another job in their database. Never did hear what happened after that.


  6. What needs to happen is that laws making it illegal need to focus on rounding up customers. This is rarely pursued–they’d rather round up the hookers than the johns. Really really stupid.

    But yes, it’s the same argument as making drugs illegal–you take away the pimp’s incentive to pimp, the underworld’s reward. When the women are in charge of it, they’re healthier, they get beaten less often. That’s what’s behind a lot of the attempts to legalize: making it easier to regulate.


    1. That’s not really true. Cops run stings to catch johns all the time. Then, they’ll act as johns to catch whores. To what extent they do either is another issue.

      I also don’t think having women in charge makes it any less abusive, necessarily. How do they keep the whores from holding out money or whatever else they beaten for by pimps? The women pimps will beat up the whores, too, or have someone to do it for them. Again, to what extent this happens I won’t wager a guess. But documentaries I’ve seen have supported this.


      1. “Mama-san” can be just as bad as “Big Daddy” for sure.

        I should hope we don’t hear about Johns being caught as often– that would be like telling people where the speed traps are.

        Moving the “action” to an organized building generally means that the madam or pimp doesn’t have to ask for the money, because they get paid directly and the women are paid by them.

        It’s sort of funny, in an odd way, not an amusing one… we have Nevada, where even in the counties where prostitution is legal, they still have illegal “sex workers” and girls forced into the practice. But folks still act like we don’t know what will happen.


        1. Here in New Zealand prostitution has been decriminalized, and the studies have shown that it had made little difference either positive or negative. Summary in our local paper here


      2. MA, I think it’s pretty universally known that when Johns are rounded up and their photos posted in the newspaper, that curbs prostitution.

        And I”m not arguing for legalization or for madams instead of pimps. Women can find abusive relationships in either gender. But it is hard to argue that legalizing prostitution in order to regulate it does make a certain amount of sense. When you make something illegal, you drive it underground.

        Is that an argument for or against?

        Personally, I think more men need to campaign against it. But they don’t.


        1. MA, I think it’s pretty universally known that when Johns are rounded up and their photos posted in the newspaper, that curbs prostitution.



          1. The Times ran a series of articles with commentary from readers after the Elliot Spitzer scandal. Many of the postings referred to community programs in which men arrested for prostitution had their names and photos posted in the paper as highly effective. You can look for them if you want. I don’t have the time, sorry.


          2. The only thing from the NYTimes that came up was an editorial blog-post saying that one study in Sweden seemed to have possibly had an effect, (all links are broken) and a 2005 report on publishing all the info on guys nabbed on suspicion of soliciting in Chicago. (They were going to try it for 30 days.)

            One blogpost from a biased source that even they wouldn’t claim except as “the editors” isn’t strong enough to say it’s universally known.


        2. @McS: “Personally, I think more men need to campaign against it. But they don’t.”

          Actually, I like *this* idea a LOT.

          Guys should make other guys feel bad about making use of prostitutes or frequenting strip clubs, or using p*rn. Instead, most of them either slap each other on the back for it and laugh about it or, if they disapprove, go silent. I work in a mostly male industry so I get in inside view of male group behaviour. If more good guys stood up for decent male behaviour it would help.


          1. Guys who won’t use pr*n or go to strip clubs are automatically considered a bit off– I know, I married one. The only thing he had a slight bit of luck getting to guys with was by mentioning that the first strip club he went in, a girl who is basically his sister was dancing. (Not that effective on guys who don’t have sisters.)

            On the upside, guys who pay for sex– at least in my social group– are considered pathetic. For the wrong reasons, but it’s a start.


          2. Mary, I don’t know what to say to this. I don’t disagree, but I only have two really close male friends, (you know them both), and they are both super clean Christian activists and enormously skilled at Christian apologetics. Actually, whenever I get interested in a young lady, they always write her reference letters on my behalf to get things started. All my other male friends are also into apologetics and they like to fight, too. Guys who like Christian apologetics think only of conflict and honor. We don’t have time to treat women as objects – they make much better soldiers than objects. We don’t get angry, we don’t drink, we don’t smoke. We read and we plan and we fight. I have no idea where all these bad men that everyone is talking about come from. All the men I know are good soldiers. We think of our duty to the Lord – our friendship with him. We take that obligation seriously, because we take the relationship seriously.


          3. WK, that’s really good to hear. :) But surely you know non-christians, nominal Christians, and weak Christians who are not like that?


          4. I dump them. I don’t keep male friends who are like that. Well, to be fair, I don’t have them as FRIENDS. I don’t play with them or have fun with them. If they want to discuss something, then fine. But I just avoid them. I don’t have a “fun” life apart from Jesus. If you’re a non-Christian, I’m going to fight you in debates and love you with gifts and eye-contact conversations. If you’re a Christian then were going to be building each other up and scheming about how to get quality speakers and events at local churches and universities. I have no other mode.

            Bad men catch on pretty quickly that I don’t want to have “fun” with them. I don’t think women are for “fun”. They’re for love and war.


          5. Well, I used to hear that from guys at varsity. They wouldn’t necessarily be your friends, but your classmates or your colleagues.


          6. I mean I used to hear the dodgy stuff from guys at varsity. I recall an occasion when I was working on a project with 4 guys and one of them got relating about when his dad took him to a strip club (not surprising how he turned out). Then he started saying crude things which I wont’ repeat and laughing about it. I asked him to cut it out. He didn’t. It made me very upset. I felt so horrible hearing that said in front of me. I know it was just words, but I felt violated. In fact, I cried. I don’t get violent, but I shoved him away from me (he was sitting next to me). Only THEN did the other 3 (2 of whom claim to be Christian) tell him he was being a jerk and apologize on his behalf.

            I don’t think I heard anyone say before that women are for love and war, but that’s awesome! :D


  7. People universally respond to the threat of being publicly exposed, which is why shaming tactics are used so regularly as a deterrent to curb certain kinds of behavior, both legal and social. You don’t need a single scientific study to observe that.

    The issue, though, is why laws in place that criminalize paying for sex and have been shown to be effective are not enforced. Much better than legalizing it, in my opinion.


    1. McS, didn’t you look at the link? Having their names, photographs and most of their address published hasn’t stopped folks from being picked up for soliciting a prostitute in Chicago. Which makes sense, since criminals generally don’t think they’re going to get caught.

      The issue, though, is why laws in place that criminalize paying for sex and have been shown to be effective are not enforced.

      Where are they not being enforced? Where has it been shown that they’re effective?


  8. They’re effective in Sweden. And I did look at the link. Most of the people shown there were not your “pillar of the community” guy who actually does respond to being publicly held accountable. But I don’t want to argue with you. I read articles on this pretty frequently. I haven’t read many that argue against doing this, or against sending johns to jail. But one article doesn’t constitute scientific evidence, obviously. And the problem is, there IS no scientific evidence. But from what I’ve read, the Swedish approach is working, according to them.


    1. They’re effective in Sweden.

      A blog post said one study suggested that it might work. Initially. And the study has vanished.

      Most of the people shown there were not your “pillar of the community” guy who actually does respond to being publicly held accountable.

      So you believe that pillars of the community are the primary customers for hookers? Based on what, TV shows?

      And the problem is, there IS no scientific evidence.

      If there are as many articles as you claim, then there should be, unless they’re all opinion. Showing a reduction in rate of offenses would be fairly simple, as would basic follow-up of seeing where the rate goes in ten years time. (Generally, a new, well publicized law of any sort will have an initial success, and then the rate will go back up as offenders learn how to avoid it; this is a general pattern.)

      If you go up to Moo’s link, you’ll see an example of basic follow-up– several years after the law passed, they went back and checked the results. There wasn’t much of a result at all.

      But I don’t want to argue with you.

      This isn’t arguing, this is me trying to get you to support your claims, especially since you keep saying you see it all over. All the data we have here says exactly the opposite of what you’ve read, so share what you’ve read. I already did the research for you on the one article you mentioned, which was the dead-end “editors” blog at the NYTimes and was so full of word-hedging that it sounded like a politician.


    1. You did NOT offer an opinion, you made statements.

      “This is,” “People universally respond,” “They’re effective in Sweden,” “several programs were effective” are not “opinion,” they are phrases that indicate fact.

      When asked to back up the statements, you either said them again, told me to look them up myself, or made new claims.

      When I did look with the information you offered, I found a single, hesitant blog post that even the New York Times wouldn’t claim by name, linking to a lost PDF of a study and a wall-of-shame that, amazingly, still has folks on it, making that solution program a wipe at best.

      If you don’t want to be challenged, say “I think that-” or “it would make sense to me if” and leave the false authority of statements you won’t support out of it.

      I even agree with you on the rationality of it all– this does NOT make sense. Why on earth would PAYING someone for physical contact, when it can cost you so much socially and legally, be even a bit interesting? I ask my geek friends to explain, and not a single one can– even the ones who go to buy-me-drink bars don’t get the appeal of prostitution. Obviously, reason is out the window, so we have to stick to actual results.

      The option for stopping is in your hands– stop making claims of fact unless you’re going to support them. If we all agreed on what works, we wouldn’t be having this long conversation. (See also, arguing theology between two religions.)


    1. don’t you find that this blog presents a lot of opinions as facts?

      No, not really; ‘in my opinion’ seems to be one of Winter’s most used phrases. Sometimes, then I call him on it, and WK either offers evidence/arguments to support his statement or goes “oops, yeah, you’re right.”


      1. Yes, when I make an assertion, I stand ready to back it up with evidence. For example, if I say that the universe began to exist, I am not going to talk about red-shifting of starlight, cosmic microwave background radiation, helium and hydrogen abundances, star formation theory, radioactive isotope abundances and the second law of thermodynamics, until someone challenges me for evidence. But if you do ask me, then I’m coming back with peer-reviewed publications. Research.


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