Open letter: 300 researchers call for decriminalization of sex work in Canada

Academics also oppose criminalizing the purchasing of sex

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      Brian Marlatt

      Mar 27, 2014 at 12:33pm

      Three hundred "researchers" have just called their credibility into question.

      Rick in Richmond

      Mar 27, 2014 at 1:17pm

      And how many of these 'researchers' would gladly see their own daughters become prostitutes?


      Mar 27, 2014 at 1:29pm

      If the peer reviewed research is "unequivocal" on this issue, then why is there still debate on the issue? Can't the criminalizers simply accept that they're wrong and leave the rest of us in peace?


      Mar 27, 2014 at 2:17pm

      People like to deny the evidence, in order to further their own agenda. The signatories on this letter do not profit from their POV, but the anti-sex work abolitionist pro Nordic groups most definitely do. To the extent that human trafficking organizations have distanced themselves from anti sex work groups who try to manipulate the general public by falsely using human trafficking stats in their sensationalism 'reports'.

      The facts do not support criminalization, or anything other than simple regulation of something that has been and is already legal in Canada, provided it is not under duress and done by 18 and over, anything else is already fully and completely addressed by current laws.

      Sarah M Mah, McGill Epidemiology Student

      Mar 27, 2014 at 3:39pm

      Sadly, I believe many of these "researchers" have come to their recommendation based on inappropriate assumptions, incomplete (and in some cases, entirely false) information, and dare I say - motives that have absolutely nothing to do with the health, safety, or rights of women and girls - and disproportionately, those who are poor and racialized and Aboriginal.

      All of their so-called "evidence-based research" is poorly synthesized to account for the overwhelming reality of women's inequality in this country, and the study design, analysis, and conclusions of the "evidence-based research" these signatories are referring to are engineered to frame prostitution as a job, a matter of disease control, as an inevitable harm that we can only ever hope to reduce, and not work to eliminate that harm instead.

      Prostitution is violence against women, full stop. Women need to be decriminalized, yes, and granted viable alternatives such as safe exiting strategies and social welfare reforms that don't leave women in abject poverty, but we need to be able to limit the ability of the pimps and purchasers to violate the rights of the sexualized, the racializd, and the poor. Legal brothels have never worked, and will never work. I ask you to consider the Asian women who are trafficked and murdered in the massage parlours that operate with impunity across the major Canadian cities.

      The standards of academic research are at an all time low - both in scientific integrity and in ethics, and there is a glaring failure to see the full decriminalization of the pimps and purchasers as posing an unquestionable threat to the social, political, and economic security of women. As some of the most privileged people, equipped to critically assess and evaluate the health and safety impacts of prostitution which are directed at the impoverished and dispossessed, the social scientists, the epidemiologists, the public health researchers - you all need to wake up.


      Mar 27, 2014 at 5:01pm

      Yes, that's right, they used the 'poorly' done police research and government non biased researchers for their evidence. They 'relied' on the Swedish police reports that verified that the results of the criminalization had no impact on the sex trade, and certainly did not reduce trafficking in the country. They 'believed' the NZ govt based evidence of a thorough and most comprehensive review 5 years after decriminalization which also found that there was no increase in either the number of sex workers or in the number of trafficked/unwilling workers.

      I realize that the 'facts' are difficult to comprehend, but we are talking here about the people who have done the real research, have investigated the issue, and, shockingly, have actually talked to sex workers.


      Mar 27, 2014 at 5:09pm

      Oh, and not to mention that these researchers include information that i think you should actually read. If a complaint is that the voices of the marginalized street workers (the minority of all sex workers) then imagine how it is to be the vast majority seeing their voices silenced. These are not the 'privileged', these are the majority, and they deserve to be heard. Stamping them out, dismissing them as incapable or incompetent to govern their own lives, what does that make you? Someone who wants to silence the only people capable of helping those same marginalized sex workers you claim to be so concerned about.

      Because i can tell you right now that the only thing they are most concerned about is paying their rent, buying their food and hopefully make the lives for their children better. I don't see one solid fact based reasoning for anyone against sex work to resolve that adult consensual sex workers don't need or want your help, In fact dismissing this majority of voices is harmful to all sex workers, including the ones you claim to want to 'save'. They'll be the first to tell you they are also not your rescue project.

      Don Collins

      Mar 27, 2014 at 7:03pm

      The Supreme Court has ruled on this issue. Re-introduction of legislation to make this a criminal offence once again is boneheaded and irresponsible.


      Mar 28, 2014 at 9:24am

      The 2008 New Zealand government report was exhaustively detailed, and most importantly consulted a large number of their nation's estimated 2332 sex workers. The supporters of the so-called Nordic system disingenuously ignore the large majority of sex workers they claim to want to help.
      The best alleged research and backers (Melissa Farley, etc.) the government could find to support its side in the case that led to the Himel and Supreme Court decision were quickly and easily debunked in court by the winning side. Yet Joy Smith clownishly still uses their ridiculous nonsense in attempting to justify her position.