Disheartening news from sex worker rights collectives across the country. But the fight must go on.
Official press release from Pivot Legal Society, in conjunction with the Montreal Coalition for the Rights of Sex Workers:
MONTREAL SEX WORKER RIGHTS GROUP DENOUNCES
BC SUPREME COURT RULING THAT DENIES SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS
Monday December 15
Today, the BC Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought forward by a group of sex workers from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (“SWUAV”) who are attempting to challenge the prostitution laws using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Lainie Basman, of Montreal’s Coalition for the Rights of Sex Workers says, “This decision is incredibly disappointing. The B.C. Supreme Court had the rare opportunity to hear a critical claim by sex workers that Canada’s Criminal Code endangers their safety and violates their fundamental right to equality. Outrageously, the Court has chosen to close its doors to one of this country’s most marginalized and oppressed groups.”
Joe Arvay, a lawyer working on the case alongside Katrina Pacey, of Pivot Legal Society, says, “The government’s argument that the Court should recognize as plaintiffs only those sex workers who are presently active in sex work or who are presently facing an actual prosecution is neither sound law or good policy.”
This court decision affects sex workers all across the country. Recent
years have brought attention to the human rights atrocities perpetrated
against sex workers in Canada and to the large number of women murdered
and missing in recent years in Vancouver and Edmonton. Anna-Louise Crago,Coalition member, states, “In Montreal, the issue is as pressing as it is in those cities. In our city there are presently at least two ongoing cases involving men accused of the serial rape of sex workers. Sex workers will not be free of violence or the threat of violence until we are free of the laws that criminalize our work and our lives. The need to recognize sex workers’ rights to work in safe and decent working conditions is urgent.”
The Coalition wishes to express not only grave concern, but also its
strong support for the right to address these human rights violations in a court of law.
For further information contact:
Anna-Louise Crago or Lainie Basman
Pivot Legal Society