CEDAW Shadow Report on Canada

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Year: 
2016

The Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform and Pivot Legal submitted this shadow report to the 65th CEDAW session. This shadow report documents the human rights violations affecting Canadian sex workers since the passage of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which criminalises sex workers, clients, third parties, advertising websites, and made modifications to migration regulations. 

The report documents how the new law increases gendered stereotypes, criminalises working together and advertising adult services, and prohibits migrants from engaging in work, including strip clubs and massage parlours. It also discusses how the new law has led to increased surveillance and harassment of sex workers, increased barriers in accessing health services, and targeted arrest and detention of migrant sex workers.

Canadian sex workers were disappointed by the CEDAW committee Concluding Observations, stating that the committee ‘failed to adequately protect the rights of sex workers in Canada.' However, their shadow report and engagement notably led the CEDAW committee to express concern about ‘potentially increased risk to the security and health of [female sex workers], particularly indigenous women, brought about by the criminalization of [sex work] under certain circumstances as provided for in the new legislation’ and urge Canada to ‘fully decriminalize women engaged in [sex work]’ and ‘assess the impacts of the law on Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons, notably on the health and security of women in [sex work].’

Contents include:

  • Contextual information
  • Rights violations under CEDAW articles
  • The harms of the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act
  • Collateral damage stemming from Canada's anti-trafficking programmes
  • Discriminatory migration bans

Their submission is useful for sex workers who are interested in submitting their own report to CEDAW once their own country is reviewed. It is also useful for those interested in learning more about human rights abuses stemming from the “Nordic Model” and the human rights situation of sex workers in Canada.

You can download this 19 page PDF above. This resource is available in English.