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The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which replaces former laws that have been shot down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, are meant to give sex workers the ability to protect themselves, and create avenues to help get them out of the industry. The list is endless with the detailed questions my group of colleagues and I have come up with. It is not a great sign for a set of laws that were written with the intention of clarifying the murky legality of the sex industry in Canada.
The Supreme Court of Canada shot down those laws last year, calling them unconstitutional, and gave the government one year to replace them. Justice Minister Peter MacKay unveiled the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act earlier this year, which criminalizes buying sex, profiting from the sale of sex, and third-party advertising. The changes were not well received. This is a key change from the previous laws, which made it illegal to negotiate the sale of sex at any time.
The change arguably fulfills a key concern raised by the Supreme Court ruling. Notably, school grounds, playgrounds or day care centres. Opponents say the provision forces sex workers into dangerous and isolated areas which will limit their ability to screen clients and negotiate terms. Or communicate with the intention of buying sex. Fines double if it is done anywhere kids may be present.
Opponents say criminalizing these exchanges push them underground and therefore make the situation more dangerous for sex workers. Though in-person negotiations are subject to the rules above and advertising through media channels, well….
It cracks down on back-of-magazine as well as online ads. It targets those who would run the ads, and could extend to publishers and website administrators. The government argues that such advertisements create a demand for prostitution. This provision makes it illegal to run a business that sells sexual services — such as escort agencies, massage parlours, etc. This clarification to the previous law allows sex workers to conduct their own personal affairs.