SEX WORK

Sex Work

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Sex Work

Overview

In Canada and many other countries, sex workers face extreme human rights abuses. Laws and their enforcement often contribute to the stigma, marginalization, discrimination, violence, and lack of access to basic services, such as police protection and health care, experienced by sex workers.

Efforts to improve the health and safety of sex workers must be based on a recognition of sex workers’ individual agency, dignity, worth and right to organize. Decriminalizing sex work is an important first step. So long as sex work is criminal in Canada, sex workers cannot enjoy their international and Charter rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association, security of the person, right to work, and right to enjoy just and favourable conditions of work.

We consult and work closely with organizations run by and for sex workers, and we encourage all governments to do so, in order to bring about reforms that respect and protect the health and human rights of sex workers.


Brief to the Standing Committee on Social Policy Regarding Bill 96, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act 2017

We urge the Standing Committee on Social Policy to uphold the human rights of sex workers by rejecting Bill 96, the Anti-Human Trafficking Act 2017, as it does not help end trafficking but endangers the safety and security of vulnerable people, particularly migrant sex workers.

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Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) Fails to Respect Sex Workers’ Rights

November 18, 2016 — Sex workers and allies in Canada are expressing deep concern and disappointment with the CEDAW Committee’s failure to adequately protect the rights of sex workers in Canada. During an international review of Canada’s progress on women’s human rights, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women sidelined the concerns of […]

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Legal Network Welcomes Canada’s Commitment To Redress Discrimination Against LGBTQI People

November 15, 2016 — The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomes Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement today to appoint a Special Advisor on LGBTQ2 issues who will work with Egale Canada Human Rights Trust and other stakeholders to address the urgent human rights and public health issues outlined in The Just Society Report.

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Briefing to the High-level Working Group on Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents

“The Legal Network submits this briefing to the World Health Organization’s High-Level Working Group of Health and Human Rights of Women, Children and Adolescents in order to provide inputs on the following areas of concern: (i) the rights of women living with HIV; (ii) the rights of women, children and adolescents who use drugs; (iii) […]

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Submission to UN Women’s Consultation on Sex Work

“The Legal Network’s guiding values are rooted in a focus on the human rights of marginalized populations such as sex workers and their meaningful participation in policies and programs that affect them. We make this submission to UN Women to urge the agency to (1) engage in a transparent and inclusive consultation with sex workers […]

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Review of Canada’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women

“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network submits this briefing to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women in advance of its review of the periodic report of Canada, held during its 65th session from 24 October to 18 November 2016. “In this submission, the Legal Network sets out its concerns about Canada’s […]

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International Assistance Review: an opportunity for Canada to stand up for human rights abroad

When International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau took up her post in November 2015, she was tasked with leading Canada’s efforts to “provide humanitarian assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world” and refocusing Canada’s development assistance “on helping the poorest and most vulnerable.” This renewed focus on marginalized communities must underlie the current […]

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Submission to Global Affairs Canada: Human Rights Priorities for Canadian International Assistance

“The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network welcomes this opportunity to provide our perspectives on the government’s priorities for establishing an international assistance policy and funding framework. When International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau took up her post in November 2015, she was tasked with leading Canada’s efforts to ‘provide humanitarian assistance to help reduce poverty and inequality in the world’ and […]

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Amnesty International Policy Is Opportunity for Canada to Reform Harmful Laws on Sex Work

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network applauds Amnesty International’s “State Obligations to Respect, Protect and Fulfil the Human Rights of Sex Workers,” released today, which calls for the removal of all laws and policies that make sex work a criminal offence, including those that prohibit selling, buying or facilitating sex work or living off its proceeds.

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Submission to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Pre-Inquiry Process

“We are pleased to see the new federal government’s commitment to recognizing the legacy of colonization on Indigenous peoples and its direct relationship to the widespread violence that Indigenous women suffer. We make this submission to urge the Inquiry to ensure the meaningful participation of Indigenous women who sell or trade sex and/or use drugs, […]

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Canada’s New Government Must Take Action on HIV

Toronto, November 30, 2015 — In a briefing paper released to parliamentarians in advance of World AIDS Day (December 1), the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is calling on the new federal government to take decisive steps to address the HIV epidemic, both in Canada and abroad. Laying out five key areas and recommending associated actions, […]

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Action Required: five key HIV-related issues facing Canada’s federal government

It is time for Canada to re-commit to the global project of ending HIV, including by basing our response on sound scientific evidence and fundamental human rights principles.

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An open letter to the foreign participants of the 5th Eastern Europe and Central Asia AIDS Conference

“We, activists and representatives of the key populations affected by HIV and non-governmental organizations working in the field of combating the HIV epidemic in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (EECA) and other countries, with this open letter would like to express our concern in anticipation of your expected participation in the 5th Eastern Europe and […]

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Election 2015: Bill C-36 and sex workers’ rights — Canada’s major federal parties respond

This is the third in a series of blog posts being published by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network ahead of Election Day on October 19, 2015. Recently, we sent a questionnaire to the five major federal parties, asking their position on key questions related to HIV and human rights. Four out of five parties responded. […]

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Election 2015: Keeping HIV and Human Rights on the Agenda

On October 19, 2015, Canada’s voters have an opportunity to decide what kind of government they want — one that has regard for evidence and upholds health and human rights for all, or one that perpetuates outmoded and ill-informed policies

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Ontario turning its back on sex workers – Statement

While Ontario Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur has not yet publicly released her review of Canada’s new, misguided sex work law, we understand – according to a reported statement today by Premier Kathleen Wynne – that this review has found “no clear unconstitutionality” in the socalled Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act. We disagree with […]

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Sex Workers, Unite! (Litigating for Sex Workers’ Freedom of Association in Russia)

The existing legal framework in Russia makes sex work and related activities punishable offenses, leaving sex workers stigmatized, vulnerable to violence, and disproportionally affected by HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. In light of international human rights standards, in particular the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights, we examine in this paper whether […]

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Advocates call on provincial leaders to resist deadly law, end violence against sex workers

This was released at today’s press conference re: the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Click here to read Richard Elliott’s remarks.

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Letter from the legal community to Ontario Premier and Attorney General re: Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

Today, on the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies will send a strong message to Canada’s provincial leaders: Reject the federal government’s toxic new law governing sex work, and do not enforce the law while its constitutionality remains in question. 190 legal experts in Canada have signed a […]

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Media Advisory: At Queen’s Park, sex workers and allies demand action from provincial leaders

On December 17, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, sex workers and their allies will be calling on Canada’s provincial leaders to take action. Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC), Maggie’s — Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, COUNTERfit Women’s Harm Reduction Program (South Riverdale Community Health Centre), and […]

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Letter to Canadian premiers re: Bill C-36

“We are deeply concerned with the new criminal provisions introduced by the so-called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act,

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School’s back — and, unfortunately, so is Bill C-36

From September 9 to 11, testimony on Bill C-36 (the so- called Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act) was heard by the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Stéphanie Claivaz-Loranger, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Policy Analyst, and network member Kara Gillies presented to the Committee, voicing strong opposition to the bill as it will greatly affect the […]

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Reckless Endangerment — Q&A on Bill C-36: Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act

In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously decided that several parts of Canada’s Criminal Code dealing with prostitution are unconstitutional because

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Judging the epidemic: A judicial handbook on HIV, human rights and the law

Judging the epidemic has been prepared as a resource to help judges, magistrates, arbitrators and other judicial officers throughout the world adjudicate cases involving HIV-related issues. This handbook may also be used by judicial trainers and ministries of justice to deliver educational programmes to judges and magistrates on legal issues related to HIV and human […]

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Sex Work Law Reform in Canada: Considering problems with the Nordic model

This policy brief considers the impact of the “Swedish” or “Nordic” model on sex workers and, in light of its harmful effects, argues that this approach would not withstand constitutional scrutiny in Canada.

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Women and HIV – “Women, Sex Work and HIV”

This is one in a series of four info sheets on the human rights of women living with or vulnerable to HIV in Canada.

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Sex, work, rights: Changing Canada’s criminal laws to protect sex workers’ health and human rights

This booklet explains how Canada’s criminal laws related to prostitution affect the health and the human rights of sex workers. It recommends changes to those laws to improve the lives of sex workers. We hope it will be useful to sex workers who are already fighting for their rights every day, and to others who […]

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