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New step in the legal fight between Ottawa and workers ;sex

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Sex workers want their field of activity to be decriminalized.

The Canadian Press

It was Monday morning that the Superior Court of x27;Ontario will issue its decision on the request of sex workers who demanded the repeal of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA), all within the #x27;optics of decriminalizing this field of activity.

The decision expected Monday represents the first round of a legal battle that will likely be fought for several years by the federal government and the Canadian Alliance for Reform laws on sex work (ACRLTS).

This addresses a reform of the laws governing sex work, adopted in 2014 by the government of Stephen Harper.

Rather than criminalizing prostitution, which the Supreme Court of Canada had ruled unconstitutional a few months earlier, the legislative reform criminalized the purchase of sexual services. Advertising for these services and pimping also remain prohibited and are punishable by law.

However, maintains the Alliance, which brings together 26 Canadian organizations supporting and defending sex workers, as the law continues to criminalize certain aspects of their work, sex workers are deprived of their fundamental right to safety be raped because they are forced to work underground.

It's a set of laws that was put in place with the explicit goal of completely criminalizing the sector to eradicate us. The goal is not the protection of sex workers and we have seen this with an increase in violence and other harmful effects.

A quote from Sandra Wesley, general director of Chez Stella, a Montreal organization member of the Alliance

This law endangers our lives. We're getting murdered, adds Ms. Wesley.

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Sandra Wesley runs Maison Stella, a Montreal community organization that works for sex workers. (File photo)

Wesley said it is important to distinguish sex work, carried out by consenting adults, from human trafficking. Moreover, the constitutional challenge to the laws governing sex work does not include sections that deal specifically with minors, specifies the director.

She believes that decriminalization and therefore recognition of sex work would help reduce the violence suffered by those who perform it.

If we accept that sex work is work, the answers to the questions of exploitation are obvious. In any job, there is a risk of exploitation: it is the very nature of capitalism.

A quote from Sandra Wesley, general manager of the company. role of Chez Stella, a Montreal organization member of the Alliance

It is for this reason, she specifies, that there are protections for workers and mechanisms such as labor standards to ensure that workers have rights and that ;they are not exploited.

By continuing to criminalize the sex industry, we invite bosses to exploit us, we invite people violent to target us and we are deprived of our right to security, she continues.

According to Sandra Wesley, this cause concerns many more people than just sex workers.

Our case includes very complex arguments about the right to equality, therefore discrimination against women, against marginalized groups and in relation to our autonomy, our right to consent to sexual relations. And that's an issue that will affect not only sex workers but all people, she says.

We are coming to counter the idea that the right to autonomy in relation to our body is not simply the right not to be violated, she adds. It also includes an affirmative right to consent to sexual relations and its nuances and how we see women's rights, the right to abortion, which could even be in danger if the government wins its case.

Either party will undoubtedly appeal the decision to the Ontario Court of Appeal, predicts Ms. Wesley. Given its serious implications, this case should also reach the Supreme Court of Canada.

What we hope is that the federal government will not wait for the Supreme Court's decision but will act now and pass a law to decriminalize sex work .

A quote from Sandra Wesley, general director of Chez Stella, a Montreal organization member of the Alliance

This determination to defend the criminalization of sex work is done through arguments that should shame the liberal government, which calls itself a defender of women, she lets it slide.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116