More than 130 organisations from across Canada have signed on to a statement calling on the new government to implement 'the total decriminalization of sex work as a first step to protecting and respecting the human rights of all sex workers' and the 'recognition of sex work as meaningful and valuable work'.
The statement has been released in advance of the Canadian federal elections, which will take place on 21st October 2019. It has been signed by organisations from across the country, including many NSWP members.
In 2014, Canada introduced the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) which criminalises the purchase of sexual services and frames all sex workers as victims. It includes elements which criminalise street-based sex workers, clients and third parties, including advertising.
The joint statement says:
"Sex workers—people who exchange sexual services for money or goods—are criminalized, disproportionately surveilled, overpoliced, and denied their fundamental rights....
Since PCEPA came into force, sex workers have reported increased antagonism with law enforcement, targeted violence and fear of reporting, unwanted and unsolicited law enforcement of Indigenous, Black, trans, migrant, drug using sex workers, and detainment and deportations of Asian and migrant sex workers. Police misuse and overuse human trafficking laws to target sex workers and clients, creating increasingly unsafe and marginalized conditions for sex workers.
Protecting and respecting the human rights of sex workers requires a holistic response. Decriminalization—the removal of criminal and immigration sex work specific laws—is a first and necessary step."