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Northern Ireland will be the first part of the UK to criminalize buying sex

In October, members of the Stormont assembly voted in favour of a bill that would criminalize buying sex in Northern Ireland. On Wednesday, December 10th, Lord Morrow’s Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill was voted through at the Final Stage. Once it receives Royal Assent, will be the first dedicated anti-slavery legislation to be passed into law by any UK parliament or assembly in more than 200 years. The legislation will criminalize paying for sexual services, enact tougher punishment for traffickers, exempt victims of trafficking from conviction “for all but the most serious of crimes committed while they were being exploited,” establish independent guardians to protect and advocate for children who have been trafficked, and create a statutory support service to assist adult victims of trafficking. From the CARE press...
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NOW Magazine takes a stand; will continue to generate revenue through prostitution advertisements

In a touching love letter to capitalism, Alice Klein, editor of NOW, a magazine whose survival depends, in large part, on revenue from prostitution advertisements, proclaims the publication will boldly go where everyone has gone before and continue to profit from the exploitation and objectification of female bodies. Klein writes: NOW supports its feisty independent journalism by selling advertising. It has run ads for sexual services throughout its history, because as a publication that stands for human rights and free expression, NOW has refused to discriminate against sex work and sex workers while allowing advertising from other less stigmatized businesses. Canada’s new prostitution legislation, which came into effect on December 6, prohibits third party advertising for sexual services. This means that prostitutes can still advertise for their own services,...
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On the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, let’s remember what feminism is actually about

December 6 is the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. It is also the anniversary of the day when 14 women were shot and killed at École Polytechnique by a gunman who shouted: “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” Clearly December 6 is a day of feminist action. It is a day to challenge male violence against women. It therefore feels appropriate to talk about what feminism actually is and means — what is it we are fighting, precisely, as feminists? I define feminism as a movement to end patriarchy and male violence against women. This definition makes sense and feels obvious to me because without patriarchy there would be no need for feminism and because male violence against women is...
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Hi the media. Do your job. Love, feminism.

The Canadian Press published a weird little story today by reporter, Stephanie Levitz, claiming that “sex workers” feel it is “‘sick and twisted’ that Canada’s controversial new prostitution bill comes into force on a day dedicated to eradicating violence against women.” The day referenced is December 6th, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Levitz only interviewed one self-described “sex worker,” Valerie Scott, who is one of the women Alan Young brought on as an applicant in his court challenge (Bedford v. Canada) and who is most likely no longer actually working as a prostitute, having aged out of the biz (johns like the young’uns). This is, of course, part of the problem with the term “sex worker.”...
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Cabinet to proceed with legislation criminalizing johns in Republic of Ireland

The Irish Times reports that Cabinet has decided to proceed with legislation that will criminalize johns in the Republic of Ireland. Members of the Stormont assembly voted in favour of a bill that would outlaw the purchase of sex last month in Northern Ireland. The decision to adopt this legislation in the Republic of Ireland is part of a growing trend, in terms of prostitution law. The Nordic model, also sometimes referred to as the Swedish model or the “women’s liberation approach” is being adopted and considered by more and more countries. Witnessing the failures of legalization and full decriminalizaton — which merely resulted in an increase in prostitution and sex trafficking and failed to reduce violence against women — and the successes of the Nordic model since it...
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From Norway to New Zealand, pro-prostitution research is its own worst enemy

Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf that if you’re going to lie you should make it a whopper, For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. Permit me to show you a lie so grand its telling should cause alarm, but it doesn’t because the deception is in service of solidifying men’s ownership of women from the inside out and absolutely. I triple check facts before stating them. Some is preparation for audience feedback and some is doubt about how well I know what I know, perhaps because I’m a woman in a culture that disregards women. Operating...
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Bill C-36 passes senate, receives Royal Assent, will become law in 30 days

On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Bill C-36 passed the Senate. Today the bill received Royal Assent, which means that in 30 days The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act will become law. In a press release, Hilla Kerner, spokesperson for Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, states: “Having a new law is a very important step but now we need to make sure it’s implemented. We need to monitor the criminal justice system and ensure the new law is used to protect women in prostitution and to stop the men who exploit them. In addition to the law, we want the Provincial and the Canadian government to provide a comprehensive response to women’s needs to prevent them from resorting to prostitution to begin with and to enable women...
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Northern Ireland bans buying sex

Last night, members of the Stormont assembly voted in favour of a bill that would outlaw the purchase of sex in Northern Ireland. Buying sex is currently legal in Northern Ireland though activities such as brothel keeping, pimping, and soliciting a person for the purposes of prostitution are against the law. Research shows that about 17,500 men pay for sex in Northern Ireland every year. The proposal to outlaw purchasing sex is among a number of clauses contained in a bill aimed at amending Northern Ireland’s laws on trafficking and prostitution and was passed by 81 votes to 10. The Guardian reports that “While the legislation still has to pass further assembly stages, the significant majority support… means it is essentially now destined to become law.” This makes Northern...
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Victoria Sexual Assault Centre takes official position in favour of full decriminalization of prostitution

The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre (VSAC) recently published a statement outlining their official position on prostitution, saying: “VSAC unanimously agreed to support the decriminalization of sex work. We therefore oppose Bill C-36, as it further criminalizes the sex work industry.” This position is defended on the basis that, according to the statement, “criminalization of any aspect of the adult sex industry will have a negative impact on the safety of sex workers.” There is nothing attached to this claim to support it, so I’m not sure how, exactly, the organization came to such a conclusion. It seems to me, rather, that the legalization of the industry has been extremely harmful to women and girls, in general, and we have yet to see any real evidence that criminalizing johns has...
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Actual evidence shows the Nordic model works

A study commissioned by Norway’s government shows that criminalizing the purchase of sex has decreased trafficking and has not caused violence against women to increase, as some have claimed. Johns have been criminalized in Norway since 2009, following in Sweden’s footsteps. Reuters reports: The nearly 200-page report is based on six months of research, including interviews with male and female prostitutes, police and support organizations. The Norwegian law applies to all its citizens anywhere, making it illegal for Norwegians to buy sex even in countries where the activity is accepted. Penalties for breaking the law are set by local municipalities. In Oslo, Norway’s largest city, convicted sex buyers face a 25,000 crown ($4,000) fine. Since criminalizing the purchase of sex in 1999, the number of men who buy sex...
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#Notalljohns: Notes from the hearings on Bill C-36

The hearings on Bill C-36, the federal government’s proposed prostitution law, continued today. You can watch all of the testimonies, which began on Monday, on CPAC. Today’s hearings featured, among many others, john-advocate, Chris Atchison (begins at about 10:30), who began his testimony by stating that he is not an advocate “for any individual, group, organization, or moral position on the sex industry.” Atchison, in his own words, “stud and does research with adults who are involved in the purchase of sexual services.” To be clear, Atchison’s work focuses on destigmatizing johns and he advocates for their decriminalization. He is not a neutral party on the issue (not that I believe anyone should be or is neutral on this issue). Regarding the question of whether “prostitution is inherently exploitative,”...
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Meet the ‘nice,’ ‘normal’ johns of Canada

The Invisible Men project Canada just launched a tumblr compiling comments from boards where men go to discuss, recommend, and review the women they buy sex from. The “reviews” are truly horrifying (though no more than you might expect from men who don’t believe women are actual human beings, I suppose) so be warned that they are very graphic and disturbing to read. Last month an article by Max Paris for the CBC asked if “the prostitution law debate hear from johns?” The article cites the work of Chris Atchison, a sociologist from the University of Victoria whose project, “John’s Voice” sought to challenge “stereotypes” around the men who buy sex and why. Apparently the john advocates don’t like that, in introducing Bill C-36, Peter MacKay referred to men...
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Johns are now an oppressed sexual minority

In a last-ditch effort to frame feminists as moralistic neocons and Oppressors of Freedom and Liberty, Alice Klein at NOW Magazine asks: Will johns become the new “fags?” You knew this was coming, right? Men are the real victims in all of this, after all — their right to have their dicks sucked on a whim is not about entitlement, it’s about freedom and sexual expression and anyone who says different is a bigot. Got it? I mean, its not all that far off from what’s been pushed by the sex work lobby for years — their incessant efforts to frame feminists as oppressive murderers of both sexy fun and of women is well-documented. Normalizing pimps and johns is important if we want to normalize and sanitize the sex...
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Hookers on Davie: an old documentary within a new context

Hookers on Davie, a documentary from the 80s,  was screened on June 24th at the Fox Theatre, a venue which caters to mostly white, liberal twentysomethings. The demographic who regularly attend events (music shows, burlesque, etc.) at said venue, were also the demographic who attended the screening. I did not see any local activists, feminists or other people I recognized from communities, other than a few familiar faces from the UBC feminist community. I question if the individuals present were there by default, as the pro-sex work movement seems to be supported blindly because it’s the “left” thing to do. The documentary and panelists gave some historical context for the film although the history presented did not reflect the reality of all women working in the sex industry, as...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Janine Benedet & Alice Lee on Canada’s proposed prostitution legislation, Bill C-36

In 2007, lawyer, Alan Young, initiated a case challenging Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional. After the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the laws criminalizing pimping, communicating for the purposes of prostitution, and running a brothel, the federal government was given a year to come up with new laws. Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, was unveiled on June 4th. Justice Minister Peter MacKay called it a “uniquely Canadian response.” The Bill explicitly targets demand and exploitation, criminalizing those who buy sex and those who profit from the exploitation of prostitutes. It also prohibits advertising sexual services unless a person is advertising their own services. One provision that is concerning to many advocates is that the proposed legislation would criminalize communicating for the purposes of...
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Why I won’t be supporting Canada’s Next Top Progressive Startup, Ricochet

Ricochet has been making some big waves in Canadian media over the past month since it launched a crowdfunder and began work to raise $75,000 to help build “a new model of digital journalism in the public interest.” Ricochet, we’re told, will be “a counterweight to corporate media” and is “building a new model of media: independent, progressive and grassroots” that will “transform the Canadian media landscape.” Sounds great, I’m sure we can all agree. The question I asked myself when I first caught wind of the project, co-founded by Ethan Cox and Derrick O’Keefe was, of course, “what about the women?” I have a healthy and well-founded mistrust for the male left. History shows that women and the feminist movement have been abandoned over and over again by...
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C-36: Some initial thoughts on Canada’s new prostitution bill

Most of you are likely aware by now that Canada’s federal government has unveiled their new prostitution bill. I wrote about it for VICE this week and based on talking to a number of women on the issue, here are the conclusions I’ve come to for the time being. I say “for the time being” because I think at this point we’re still speculating about the purpose of one particular (problematic) provision. Ok. So first a very brief summary of key aspects of the proposed legislation, called Bill C-36, The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act: buying sex is criminalized pimping is criminalized advertising for sexual services is criminalized unless it is the prostitute themselves who is doing the advertising prostituted people are decriminalized BUT there is a...
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