Ottawa Street-based Sex Workers and the Criminal Justice System: Interactions Under the New Legal Regime

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Title: Ottawa Street-based Sex Workers and the Criminal Justice System: Interactions Under the New Legal Regime
Authors: Karim, Yadgar
Date: 2017
Abstract: In 2007, one current and two former sex workers, Amy Lebovitch, Terri-Jean Bedford and Valerie Scott launched a charter challenge, Bedford v Canada, arguing that the prostitution provisions criminalizing bawdy houses (section 210), living on the avails (section 212 (1)(j)) and communicating for the purposes of prostitution (section 213.1 (c)) violated their section 7 rights under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Six years later, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously to strike down all three challenged laws, leaving a one-year period to construct a new regime on prostitution. On December 6, 2014, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) came into effect, criminalizing, for the first time, prostitution in Canada and introducing a law that replicates many of the provisions of the previous regime. This thesis uses semi-structured interviews and qualitative analysis to examine the experiences of nine street-based sex workers in Ottawa, paying particular attention to experiences after the introduction of the new law. Drawing on the work of Mead & Blumer’s symbolic interactionism theory and Goffman’s concept of stigma the thesis examines how embedded stereotypes in legislation ‘play out’ in the lives of sex workers. I argue that the interactions of sex workers in Ottawa are conditioned by stereotypical assumptions which in turn lead to their broader discrimination and marginalization. This study concludes by finding that the first objective of PCEPA, to protect those who sell their own sexual services, has not been met; instead, PCEPA has resulted in street-based sex workers in Ottawa assuming more risk, and in turn, facing more danger while on the job.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/35710
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-667
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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