Sex worker says Harper government shouldn’t make new prostitution laws after Supreme Court ruling

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      When Susan Davis heard that the Supreme Court had struck down three of Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional, she celebrated by uncorking a bottle of champagne that she had been saving for 10 years.

      “It’s huge,” the long-time sex worker and advocate said by phone from Vancouver. “You can’t help but think of the women who didn’t make it. But we all celebrated together.”

      However, Davis told the Georgia Straight that she’s “afraid” of the laws that Stephen Harper’s Conservative government might come up with in response to the ruling, which was released today (December 20). She would prefer to see the feds opt for decriminalization and not make any new laws on prostitution.

      “Kidnapping is illegal,” Davis said. “Extortion is illegal. Unlawful confinement is illegal. Assault, rape, even human trafficking is specifically illegal. Why do we need two sets of laws to protect people?”

      Davis called Conservative MP Joy Smith “one of the biggest threats to the safety of sex workers in this country”. Smith issued today a statement promoting what’s known as the Nordic model, which targets clients by criminalizing the purchase of sexual services. According to Davis, this model has proved to be a failure in Sweden.

      “Even their parliamentarians understand that it isn’t working,” Davis said. “It is a moral statement. Those laws are about ideology. They’re not about people. So, I am afraid. But at least in Vancouver we’ve laid the foundation for balanced thinking on this. Here, more than anywhere else in Canada, people understand that we can’t make those kinds of mistakes. There’s no time for ideology. We have to do something pragmatic in light of the disaster in the case of the missing women.”

      In Vancouver, Davis noted, both city hall and the police are making efforts to prioritize the safety and dignity of sex workers. She pointed to the Vancouver Police Department’s Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines report, which states: “Sex work involving consenting adults is not an enforcement priority for the VPD.”

      Davis asserted that one barrier to progress is the falsehoods—one being that sex workers were all abused as children—spread by opponents of prostitution and believed by many people.

      “Those myths have been dispelled by this finding,” Davis said. “If you read what the judges say about those statistics, they’re not real. Those are made-up statistics that these people use to profit from the rescue industry, and they don’t care. They’ve stated openly that they don’t care if a few of us die in the fight for the greater good. That’s illegal, and that’s what the court has said today.”

      According to Davis, the Supreme Court ruling is “not a blanket solution” and change won’t happen overnight. But she believes the decision will make police think twice about shutting down “safe workplaces” and forcing sex workers on to the streets.

      Davis hopes sex workers will organize and establish an industry association and trade guilds in order to negotiate with business owners. She wants to see industry-wide standards for occupational health and safety.

      “If we’re able to be free of these Criminal Code restrictions, we can exercise our right to associate and begin to bring stability and safety to our industry,” Davis said. “Only then can we shine a dark light in every corner and expose exploitation. All of this re-criminalization and driving it underground isn’t going to help anyone. We need to be able to open the doors and see what’s happening inside.”



      Susan Davis does not speak for us all

      Dec 20, 2013 at 11:07pm

      None of my coworkers in massage appreciate this woman or what she says. She has been very mean and even phoned and attacked the agencies that actually try to help us. What we would appreciate is someone who fights for us to get equal pay and more affordable childcare so we don't have to do this job anymore. We want out but we have no other options really. We are not happy doing this work. Nobody is. Susan Davis and others should care more about gender equality rather than increasing men's sexual access to women struggling to survive.

      Former Sex Trade Worker

      Dec 20, 2013 at 11:53pm

      I knew Sue Davis when I was a sex trade worker and I have to say that she is one of the most well-educated and dedicated women I know! Not just that, but she's very right!

      These so called "rescue" groups don't care about the sex trade workers. To them, this is simply a moral issue and not a human safety issue. Their delusional belief in some Utopian end to prostitution is negligent and puts sex trade workers at risk. much better are they from pimps when they feel such ownership over these sex trade women, that they talk over them and down to them when it comes to their rights over their own bodies?

      Brock Maclean

      Dec 21, 2013 at 6:23am

      If someone wants to exchange money for some personal affection, I am OK with long as 2 consenting adults don't hurt each other, what is the problem? I support the new Supreme Court decision. The only thing I have to say. I feel most in the sex trade industry do it because they choose to do it..and only about 10% are victims..the other 90% are happy and can choose to leave and work at McDonalds anytime they want...but they prefer the $200 per hour work and many love sex...simple as that..

      Another escort

      Dec 22, 2013 at 4:04am

      I agree with Brock - many of us chose to do this because we love the freedom, the money, the sex and the people we meet.

      Most of us who do indoor work do not need to be "rescued" and Susan Davis is a wonderful woman who works tirelessly for us. Thanks Susan and cheers !

      Looking from the outside in

      Dec 22, 2013 at 10:20am

      You want out but have no other options? You ladies are making $200hr tax free and I imagine could make multiple sessions in one night and YOU need help with child care? Equal pay? Your making more than alot of tradesman and you cant get your life in order??? Please lady give your head a shake... Save your whines for when this becomes legal and you have to pay taxes on all YOUR hardwork...


      Dec 22, 2013 at 5:28pm

      No man should be involved in this debate. Let's leave it to the women involved in this business to sort it out among themselves. She who wears the shoe knows it best.


      Jan 7, 2014 at 6:42pm

      I don't have a problem with men being involved in this debate. it isn't a women's issue, there are men working as sex workers too. There are female clients who see male and female sex workers. This is an adult human issue, imo. re: the equal pay childcare comment, i assume the poster means that if she had a regular job that paid well & included child care she wouldn't be doing massage work. My reply to that is she also probably would be spending 60 hours a week working, and commuting, & spend a lot less time with her kids, as well as unable to afford their future.

      Take advantage of the experience to get ahead, further your own education and get yourself out of the business. It isn't Sue's fault that she is involved with furthering your right to work in that business rather than assisting you in getting a better paid straight job.

      lmao - well that backfired!

      Feb 16, 2014 at 6:40pm

      Awww what's the matter Sue? Things not going as you planned? Seeing (the usual) many attacks on others by you all over the internet... upset about a quickly approaching Nordic Model and the support by Canadians for it. Time for you to sit down me thinks.

      Mirk Watkins

      Apr 10, 2014 at 10:24am

      It's obvious from some of these comments that not everyone can look past their bias to see the issues properly.

      Humanity is complex and varied to an unbelievable degree. Choosing to damn all sex workers for one reason or another is to unfairly judge most of them. There's too many factors to allow bias and ignorance to cement one's opinion. You'll always be wrong if you choose to judge, rather than keep an open mind.

      Human nature shouldnt be harangued by any man made system. We keep trying to force social structures upon the dark underbelly of human desires and it doesn't work; not with drugs, not with prostitution, not with sexuality, nothing. Crimes will never not be committed, not without some miraculous technological advancement.

      Consider the victims, if you can't abide those who whole heartedly choose the life. How many of these people are raped, beaten, mugged, kidnapped, tortured, sold into sexual slavery and chemical dependency, or ultimately murdered? How many Rippers, Picktons, and run of the mill psychos do we have to see target sex workers, or hear about the atrocities arrayed against them, such as human trafficking and child prostitution?

      Who cares what someone ELSE does with THEIR body when hundreds, thousands of people are destroyed every year in one nightmarish way or another? Is the hate, disgust, and undeserved sense of superiority you people feel regarding sex workers worth even one teenager's hell ride into sexual slavery and a shallow grave? How about a dozen, or a hundred? How many people have already suffered for wont of protection against the real monsters in this world?

      Don't bother looking down on others or letting hatred fester inside. Humanity has dogged this foolish loathing for thousands of years and NOTHING has changed.

      We need to reconsider the structure of society in this regard. We can't stop others from doing what they want, we can only throw them in jail, or fine them, forcing them to continue making money as they always have. This only serves to create more suffering in the world, to take the lives away from individuals, an atrocity in and of itself, while the 'problem' continues unscathed and uncaring.

      Make room for them in our cities, remove the stigma from their life style, tax them, provide security and rights and safe conduct for them.

      Like this.'s_Guild