Friday, August 3

Constitutional challenge today of Canada's prostitution laws

Two Vancouver lawyers will launch a constitutional challenge today of Canada's prostitution laws, arguing they force sex workers into unsafe conditions and infringe a sex worker's right to freedom of expression."The prostitution laws . . . subject sex workers to increased risk of physical and sexual violence, psychological injury, kidnapping and death," says a statement of claim to be filed in B.C. Supreme Court."

The prostitution laws deprive sex workers of the ability to lawfully conduct their work safely because they are prevented from taking steps to establish health and safety conditions in their work," it adds.

On Thursday, lawyers Katrina Pacey of Pivot Legal LLP and Joseph Arvay planned to file the statement of claim on behalf of the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, a group of mostly aboriginal women, some of whom have experienced physical or sexual violence because of their work in the sex trade.

Vancouver East MP Libby Davies said she, too, feels the prostitution laws need to be contested."

The status quo is completely unacceptable, in fact it is harmful," said the NDP MP, who was part of a parliamentary committee which, despite her protests, concluded its investigation of prostitution laws in 2006 without recommending decriminalization.

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