Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights and a New Framework for Law Reform

Wednesday, July 28 2010

For Immediate Release, June 14, 2006 Report demands legal protections for sex workers Vancouver – Pivot Legal Society has released its second report on sex work and law reform. Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights and a New Framework for Law Reform, funded by the Law Foundation of British Columbia, the Law Commission of Canada and the Canadian Bar Association, the report presents the results of two years of research and in depth discussions with 84 sex workers from various aspects of the sex industry in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.

Pivot’s 2004 report, Voices for Dignity: A Call to End the Harms Caused by Canada’s Sex Trade Laws, called for the complete decriminalization of adult prostitution in order to reduce harm to sex workers and protect their human rights. That report showed a link between the high levels of violence, exploitation and discrimination suffered by sex workers and the current prostitution laws which marginalize and criminalize those who sell sex.

Pivot’s new report moves beyond the question of criminal law reform. It examines the regulatory and legislative reforms that would be required to protect sex workers in the event that the adult sex industry is completely decriminalized. The report highlights nine areas of law, including municipal, employment, labour, social welfare, tax, company, human rights, immigration, and family, and asks whether or not the existing legislation in these areas will meet the needs and concerns of sex workers.

“The bottom line is that sex workers want access to the same legal and human rights protections that are afforded to other Canadians,” says Katrina Pacey, lawyer and author of the report. “Decriminalization is only the first step to making this possible. Legal and regulatory reform is imperative for sex workers to take their place as full members of society.”

Susan Davis, media spokesperson for PACE Society, a non profit organization which offers outreach, counselling, education, and advocacy for sex workers, adds, “Decriminalization will make the industry safer for everyone. Whether it’s a survival sex worker who wants to work indoors or be able to report a bad date, or a massage parlour worker who wants health and safety standards in her workplace, everyone will benefit from law reform.”

Pivot’s report is particularly timely given that the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Solicitation Laws was re-struck last week. The Subcommittee is mandated to consider reforming the criminal laws relating to prostitution.

Copies of the report can be accessed at:

About Pivot Legal Society
Pivot’s mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. We believe that everyone, regardless of income, benefits from a healthy and inclusive community where values such opportunity, respect and equality are strongly rooted in the law.


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