Collateral Consequences: The Effects of Decriminalizing Prostitution on Women's Equality in Business

AuthorDanielle K. Lewchuk
PositionIs a third year JD candidate at the University of British Columbia, Faculty of Law
By Danielle K. Lewchuk*
CITED: (2013) 18 Appeal 105-119
Prostitution may be decrimina lized in Canad a in the next few years. In Briti sh Columbia,
the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society (SW UAV) and
Sheryl Kiselbach are using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (“Charter”)1 to
challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s adult prostitution oences.2 SWUAV and
Ms. Kiselbach were granted public interest standing to take their case forward by the
Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) in September 2012.3 In March 2012, the Ontario
Court of Appeal i n Canada (Attorney General) v Bedford (“Bedford”)4 found t he sections
of the Criminal Code5 related to keeping a common bawdy-house6 and living o t he
avails of pr ostitution7 inconsistent with sect ion 7 of the Charter.8 Communicating for the
purposes of prostitution9 remains illegal, a lthough this too was struck down at the tria l
level.10 Leave to appeal a nd cross-appeal the Bedford decision was granted by the SCC in
October of 2012.11
e decriminalization of prostitution will certainly aect the lives of sex workers, who
are among some of the most marginalized women in our society. As many advocacy
groups and sex workers themselve s have argued,decriminaliz ation stands to improve the
lives of sex workers in numerous ways.12
* Danielle K. Lewchuk is a third yea r JD candidate at the University of Bri tish Columbia, Faculty
of Law. She would like to thank Professor Yvonne Zyl an and Professor Claire Young for their
invaluable input and advice o n the initial drafts of this paper.
1 Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982 being Schedule B to
the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11 [Charter].
2 Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Societ y v Canada (AG), 2010 BCCA 439 at
para 4, 324 DLR (4th) 1.
3 Canada (AG) v Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence Society, 2012 SCC 45, 34
BCLR (5th) 1.
5 Criminal Code, RSC 1985, cC-46.
6 Ibid, s 210.
7 Ibid, s 212(1)(j).
8 Bedford, supra note 4 at para 325.
9 Criminal Code, supra note 5, s 213(1)(c).
10 Bedford v Canada, 2010 ONSC 4264 at paras 6, 508, 327 DLR (4th) 52.
11 Bedford, supra note 4, leave to ap peal to SCC granted, 34788 (October 25, 2012).
12 See generally Pivot Legal S ociety Sex Work Subcommitte e, Voices for Dignity: A Call to End the
Harms Caused by Canada’s Sex Trade Laws (2004), online: .

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