Busted For Solicitation|
- Favorable Legal Situation
Brief Overview of Canadian
Prostitution is legal in all of
Canada it has been part of the Federal Criminal Code since at least mid
1800s. It is similar to British law and laws in much of Europe. Local
communities can establish brothels and have some other limited powers
such as licensing and zoning but can not outlaw prostitution which
flourishes throughout Canada.
While prostitution itself is
legal how it is practiced is restricted and enforcement differs greatly
in different cities. The Criminal Code of Canada restricts:
1. Communicating -
to avoid street prostitution by preventing soliciting or having sex in
public. Car sex is illegal unless in a very secluded location as one
case pointed out. A telephone is private so you can discuss it freely.
It is also perfectly legal for a prostitute to advertise in magazines,
newspapers and websites, as they are not considered public (you choose
to buy it, read it in privately and read what you privately decide to
read). For example in Vancouver, there are many ads are in the
Westender, Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Providence for providers. Many
Canadian providers have websites and there are good discussion/review
lists. All perfectly legal and without the concern of being a roadmap
for vice cops to find legitimate providers, like in the U.S.
Section 213 of the Criminal
Code states that communicating for the purpose of prostitution is a
summary conviction offence. Summary offences are considered "less
serious", carrying a maximum six-month jail term, a $2,000 fine, or
both. The offender does not receive a formal criminal record, nor are
fingerprints or photographs taken.
In February 1997 the Vancouver
police announced that they no longer intend to arrest prostitutes for
even street communicating, except if they are working near schools etc.
The press release announcing this policy reasoned that: The root cause
of Vancouver's street prostitution trade is the men who purchase or
recruit and control (pimp) juvenile or adult sex workers.
Other cities in Canada and
cities adjacent to Vancouver including Burnaby and Surrey have enforced
the public communicating restrictions and have set up stings against
men soliciting undercover cops on the street.
In Vancouver, in the high
priced downtown streets the hookers help the cops instead of being
adversaries. So the enforcement of the restrictions varies greatly and
can change over time.
In other parts of Canada people
are very upset with all the street walkers in their area and point out
the flaws in the communications law which they hope to change:
According to the Identification of Criminals Act, fingerprinting and
photographing of individuals are only permitted for indictable
offences. Many of those charged under section 213 use false identities,
so it is difficult for authorities to identify repeat offenders or
runaways. Summary offences are often just slaps on the wrist, and fines
become "the price of doing business" for many offenders. With little
sense of deterrence, it is easy for prostitutes and johns (sex trade
offender) to remain solicitatiing on the streets.
Lyla who hosts one of the best
Canadian sexworker discussion sites lyla.com, in discussing street
"The law up here was actually
*more lenient* when I first arrived in Canada. At that time, we had a
"pressing and persistent" component to the law -- which meant that not
only did a streetwalker have to pin a prospective customer, but she had
to hold him down for a count of ten in order to qualify for a
solicitation charge. "
But again it is not
prostitution that is illegal, only the street solicitation.
Prostitution itself is legal in all of Canada just how its done is
2."Bawdy Houses" are
illegal. This provision was made part of the Canadian Federal Code in
1850. Yes, 1850. A bawdy house is a place kept, occupied or used by at
least one person for the purposes of prostitution or indecent acts.
Therefore incall service is illegal but enforcement of this varies in
different cities from no known enforcement in Vancouver to even trying
to use this provision to shut down swing clubs in some Eastern Canadian
Many people think the 1850
bawdy restrictions should be abolished. It would be much safer for the
provider to work out of her own home, or a commercial sex
establishment, properly zoned and business licensed, then going to the
Outcall sexual services of an
independent provider is absolutely legal in all of Canada under
long-established Federal Law. Canada is much more the land of the
sexually free than the U.S.!
In general, Canadian police are
paying progressively less attention to bawdy house violations and
off-street prostitution in general and more on street prostitution (car
sex) which understandably upsets neighborhoods. This public sex is far
different than private consenting adult sexual services, for which
there should be no legal barriers.
3. "Procuring and living off the
income of prostitution" is illegal with its source back in
the 1800s. Currently most of the enforcement of this law is against
pimps living off the income of street prostitutes often also associated
with drug crimes.
But it can also be applied to
legitimate escort agencies that screen and offer some protection for
the provider. Again enforcement varies widely and many think agency
services should be allowed to protect the provider.
On the other hand it helps keep
costs much lower than in the U.S. where the agencies often make a great
deal of money the customer has to pay when using. It also helps
eliminate the concern that "organized crime" groups would be involved
in prostitution. Where it is legal like in Canada, there isn't the same
profit potential as in the U.S. where all sexwork is a crime.
Canadian agencies often just
charge a reasonable flat service fee for listing, advertising and
appointment setting, unrelated to the providers income. But most
providers are independent women working from their homes or apartments.
4. The sexual procurement and
purchasing sex from children and youth. In Canada,
prostitution law enforcement tends to be complaint driven. The
complaints are predominantly about street prostitution. More recently
there has been more concern with children (under age 18) in
prostitution. The age of consent in Canada is a uniform age 14 UNLESS
for financial reward. In the U.S. every state sets its own age of
consent which varies from 13 to 18. In Canada be sure you don't have
sex with anyone 14-18. It is not statutory rape if over 14, but a
different offense which can result in 10 years prison time. Even
tougher penalties are applicable if the provider is under age 12.
The problems in Canada revolve
around the communicating and bawdy house restrictions being too rigid
and unevenly enforced.
In Canada the problems with
prostitution are far less than in the U.S. and there seems to be
agreement that criminalization would only make the matter worse...just
like in the U.S.
Canadian sexwork laws are
similar to British and French laws since France is one of the countries
that colonized Canada. It is also quite similar to laws in the rest of
Europe, Australia and most other countries. In Asian and Latin America
in the countries where it is illegal it is usually tolerated and law
not enforced.. In fact in many countries (parts of Mexico, Philippines,
Thailand and many others) even where "illegal" the government licenses
providers (Guest relations officers like in PI) and requires STD and
HIV testing. In Thailand the Entertainment Act of 1960 basically makes
most all tourist sex legal as "special services" Thailand wanted to
protect all the U.S. service men resting..and recreating in Thailand
during the Vietnam war since sexwork brought (and still does) so many
needed economic benefits. Mexico has its zones where it is legal, and
only a few states regulate it at all.