Newly appointed Federal Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould has set her sights on repealing Canada's anti-sex
work laws. Maclean's reports that Canada's new anti-sex work laws are one of three major priorities for the Minister.
The current law is called the Protecting Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA). It came into effect in December 2014 as a result of the Supreme Court's Bedford decision scrapping previous legislation. Unfortunately the replacement was worse.
PCEPA brought back several laws found unconstitutional in the Bedford decision. It also created a new anti-advertising provision that bans ads for sexual services. The laws were created as a Canadian version of the Swedish Model. The Canadian Bar
Association has stated that PCEPA would also likely be struck down by the Supreme Court, according to The Tyee . More information on the harms associated with the Swedish Model can be found in NSWP's Advocacy Toolkit .
The Justice Minister has stated that she will be consulting directly with sex workers in her review of the anti-sex work laws. I definitely am committed to reviewing the prostitution laws, and sitting down with my officials to assess the best options,
and with those they affect directly, Wilson-Raybould told The Tyee . In an interview with Maclean's, she went on to say that the safety of the workers is fundamentally important.
Canadian Parliament resumes on December 3, 2015. It will be the first Parliamentary session of the newly elected Liberal government. A throne speech the following day may gives further clues as to the agenda of the new government. Sex workers and their
allies hope to hear the Liberal promise to repeal PCEPA included.
Vietnam's Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs has proposed that the names of sex buyers should be revealed as a nasty measure to
deter them from resorting to sex services still considered illegal in Vietnam.
The ministry has also suggested that their sex buying should be reported to their employers and local authorities.
The ministry said that the current fines, from VND500,000 (US$22.2) to VND10 million ($440), applied to sex buyers are low and don't prevent repeat offending. Therefore, publicizing the names of sex buyers should be considered an official
administrative punishment inflicted on them.
Lawyer Pham Thanh Binh advised that lawmakers should carefully consider the possible consequences of such name publication. He warned:
It may cause unforeseeable social consequences. There were circumstances in which people committed suicide after the names of their fathers were revealed as sex buyer.
Draft law changes that outlaw prostitution have been sent back to committee after an upper house MP objected and argued that the law should
be amended to protect, rather than punish, sex workers.
Yangon Region parliamentarian U Phone Myint Aung urged MPs to look past ingrained cultural aversion to sex work and acknowledge that efforts to stop prostitution would inevitably fail. Instead, lawmakers should seek to protect sex workers, who are
marginalised and vulnerable under the current laws.
He said it was hypocritical to allow businesspeople to open karaoke bars and nightclubs but punish the sex workers who operate within them. Many prostitutes are sent to prison due to the Suppression of Prostitution Act (1949) but most resume their
trade when they are released, he said, because it is difficult to start a new life. He said:
There is no one to protect their rights. I stand for sex workers. We should understand that ... the culture of the world has changed.
Following his plea, Amyotha Hluttaw Speaker U Khin Aung Myint sent the amendment to the Suppression of Prostitution Act back to the Bill Committee.
The new law submitted by the Ministry of Home Affairs in June, propose punishing both sex workers and their clients. It proposed caning men caught with a prostitute. However, after discussing the issue with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief
and Resettlement on July 20, the bill committee recommended the punishment be changed to a prison term of up to one year with hard labour, and a fine. The committee also proposed adding a section on providing re-education to prostitutes.
Sex workers working without a brothel license may risk a prison sentence of up to six months.
On 12 October 2015, the Act Regulating Prostitution (WRP) was taken up by the House of Representatives in the Netherlands, which is their parliament. The WRP proposes to criminalise all sex workers without authorisation/licensure, including
independent sex workers and camgirls/camboys. According to the Research and Documentation Centre, this will affect one third of all sex workers. Parliament will vote on the law proposal before the end of the year. Most political parties have
expressed their support of the law.
Felicia Anna and Hella Dee from PROUD, the Dutch union for sex workers, explained the sex workers' side:
Holland is moving more into criminalizing sex workers, violating their privacy rights and is moving away from Amnesty's proposal to decriminalize it and protect sex workers' rights. This country is really going crazy
It is often the only option for sex workers who wish to work independently in a situation where cities consistently refuse to give out licenses to any sex worker due to stigma. By working unlicensed, sex workers also avoid the oppressive
regulations and financially exploitative reality of the legal framework.
The main problem with 'prostitution' in Holland, is the shortage of workplaces due to the constant closures of legal workplaces (40% has been closed down already), while it's impossible to get a permit for a new workplace. But now they actually
want to throw sex workers in jail for not being able to get this impossible to get permit.
According to Hella Dee, unlicensed sex workers face all the issues of working within a criminalised environment, especially regarding police harassment. Sex workers report an increase in police violence and intimidation. Police officers out sex
workers to landlords and non-sex work employers, leading to eviction and loss of non-sex work income. Parents are reported to social services based solely on their profession. Police officers enter sex worker homes without their permission and ask
personal questions about their private (sex) lives - the proposed Act Regulation Prostitution (WRP) aims to legalise this practice. Tax office will demand high fines based on unrealistic assumptions about the number of clients sex workers see.
PROUD calls on all Members of Parliament to speak out against the WRP. PROUD also calls on the association of sex workers and allies to take action against this law.
Dutch brothel owners must be able to communicate with sex workers in their own language to supposedly to be able to protect them from abuse, the
European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
The authorities in Amsterdam were right to refuse a brothel owner permission to operate because he could not speak Hungarian or Bulgarian, the ECJ claimed. The court said in a statement:
The court considers it is possible to require that a brothel owner be able to communicate in the same language with the prostitutes who work there.
Only then could a brothel, including Amsterdam's famous shop windows , be organised to prevent abuses and criminal offences against the sex workers, it claimed.
An Amsterdam window prostitute and blogger, who uses the pseudonym Felicia Anna, told the BBC communication was key to fighting issues such as trafficking. However, she said most of the sex workers she knew already communicated with brothel owners - as
well as clients and law enforcement - in second languages such as Dutch or English.
Meanwhile he brothel owner argued that he could use interpreters or online translation software instead. He invoked EU single market rules, saying Amsterdam's mayor, who is not named in the case, was being discriminatory and disproportionate
The French Senate has voted against a bill passed by the National Assembly in 2013 that intends to penalise the
customers of sex workers, making them liable for fines of up to 1,500 euros for a first offence and 3,750 euros for repeated breaches.
Senators voted (190 to 117) against the bill. They have argued that many prostitutes' rights groups are against such a criminalisation of clients.
Sex workers and groups who have opposed the plan, say it can lead prostitutes to hide from police and go off the streets, exposing them to more violence and abuses.
The bill to punish prostitutes' clients must therefore now be discussed by a conciliation committee to find a joint version for both Houses of Parliament. If not, the National Assembly, which proposed the bill, will have the last word.