A coalition of groups preparing to intervene in a Supreme Court of Canada hearing into the future of this country's prostitution laws is advocating for a "third way" that would ensure sex workers aren't turned into criminals while ensuring johns and pimps can still be prosecuted for buying and selling women and girls.
The Women's Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution -- which includes a number of organizations including the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies and the Vancouver-based Rape Relief and Women's Shelter -- is among more than a dozen interveners in a hearing scheduled for June 13.
The hearing stems from an Ontario Court of Appeal decision that struck down the Criminal Code ban on bawdy houses last year because the law puts sex workers in danger by forcing them to work outside.
The case has revealed deep divisions among organizations that work with and advocate for the women -- often poor, drug addicted, and in many cases trafficked from outside Canada -- working in the sex trade. Some groups are advocating for a form of legalization, while others insist prostitution must remain against the law.