Posted by: sayamika, the killer bunny | 2010 October 3

Hey, baby, want some company?

I remember being a kid, and hearing on the news that someone had been arrested for “Soliciting.” Where I lived, this was apparently code for prostitution, in particular the streetwalking sort. I understood this as a child, and I knew what it meant.

So when I moved to Ontario and saw people’s mailboxes with stickers on them which read “No soliciting,” I thought, gee, Ontario has door-to-door hookers? How about that!

In Canada prostitution is in fact, already legal.

However, in some jurisdictions there were prohibitions on various parts of the trade, and her in Ontario until a few days ago, it was illegal to “communicate for the purposes of prostitition,” to “live off the avails of prostitution,” or to “operate a common bawdy house.”

These laws are obviously exceedingly well enforced. One of the first things that got pointed out to me in Collingwood, ON was the brothel. The classified ads of the newspapers are surely not full of ads for sex services. And living off the avails? No, of course, it’s just spare cash, right? Right?


So, three sex workers hired a lawyer and mounted a constitutional challenge to these laws. The judge examined them, and struck them down, stating that the current laws “place prostitutes at greater risk of experiencing violence,” by prohibiting them from operating out of a place wherein they can screen clients and have help close by.

Listening to the CBC’s “Cross country checkup,” one could be forgiven for assuming we are a nation of old bags afraid that our husbands are going to run out and hire prostitutes the second it becomes fully legal. These women who called in seem incoherently terrified that prostitution should become legalised, one describing what is essentially the current situation and asserting without evidence that things like underage prostitution and human trafficking would surely get worse if prostitution were legal and licensed. Does the evidence back this up? Amsterdam? Sure, it’s sleazy, but are the women worse off, or better? One writer for the National Post went so far to describe prostitutes as “people of low character” and “unworthy of respect.”

Bigotry much?

My two cents, worth approximately that: Legalise it. Make it easier for women (and men, but mainly women) who are in this situation, by choice or not, to control their working conditions, to control who they see as clients. Make it easier for them to make a choice about where they work, and for whom, and with whom. Make it easier for them to get off the streets. Make it easier for them to access the specific types of medical care they need.

Getting them out from undercover makes them more visible – not less – to authorities. They no longer need to fear arrest or abuse from the police. The police suddenly become a resource, a source of protection.

If your argument is that legalising it makes it morally sanctioned, that’s total bullshit. Alcohol is legal, alcoholism is not morally sanctioned. Smoking is legal, and is becoming more and more socially unacceptable. Your mother will kick your ass for lots of stuff that is legal, and that’s where morality comes from.

The law is not your mother. The law exists to protect society, and a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. If you’re selling your body to live, that’s pretty vulnerable. I don’t care how you got there. It’s society’s job – the law’s job – to make things as safe as possible for these people, too.



  1. I read your comments on the “science based” web site, and it makes me want to ask you why do you think an un level pelvis wouldn’t cause pain/ dysfunction?I don’t know of any of my peers who take those ridiculous large x-rays.When I take films, which I read with great proficiency,I always shield the patients eyes, thyroid, gonads.
    I would venture to guess that you don’t know any DC’s, or ever had a conversation with a well educated one.I have many MD’s as both patients, and referrers of many of my new patients.
    Don’t believe the horse shit that the spin doc’s put out there.Instead try to meet a chiropractor and learn what it is we do.Ultimately your patients will win out.

    • Hi Stuart, I do know DCs. I don’t like the ones I know, but I do know them (it’s a small town, and however much you want to, you cannot avoid meeting people). I have yet to meet a “well educated chiropractor” (except the local emerg doc who quit chiropractic and went back to school for a real medical degree- he’s awesome). It looks to me like an oxymoron at this point. I sincerely hope the local ones not the rule, but survey says….

      The giant x-rays I see never have any form of shielding. I see a ridiculous number of them.

      Define a “tilted pelvis.” Because, really, a pelvis is not independent, and if you really see a tilted pelvis you are either dealing with a leg length discrepancy, best treated with orthotics or orthopedic intervention; with scoliosis- again, an orthopedic condition; or with exceedingly poor posture, best treated by Miss Manners.

      Protip: not everyone with back pain needs an MRI. Please share this with your colleagues, because I’m pulling my hair out here.

      My patients can freely go see chiropractors. I have merely complained about the serious incompetence and bullshit diagnoses I have had brought back to me and had to tidy up. I have averred that based on this, and based on the lack of scientific evidence for chiropractic interventions…. my patients, if they ask me, will be recommended to go elsewhere. Anywhere else.

  2. Not sure what the preceding comment has to do with the blog post, but, mmmmkay…

    Anyway, I agree with you on this one. Making something legal isn’t the same as morally sanctioning it. It’s simply recognition of the de facto state, and acknowledgement that legalization has greater benefits than drawbacks.

    Kind of like abortion in that respect. Nobody (I don’t think) would argue that abortion is inherently “good” or “desirable”… but we can argue that criminalization of abortion is much worse in terms of its effects on individual women and on society. Well, ditto with prostitution. It’s going to happen anyway, and better it should happen in lower-risk environments.

    Besides, the moral argument is a fine line anyway. Porn is legal – for the actors and the viewers. So why is it okay for someone to have sex for money on film, and not in a hotel room?

    And, memo to the little old ladies on CBC: If you’re worried about your husband visiting prostitutes once the laws are struck down, you should worry now, too.

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