Friday, September 21, 2012

SCOC grants standing in sex-trade case

The Supreme Court of Canada has done the right thing by agreeing to consider the appeal regarding the prostitution laws in this country.    In a 53 page decision and on behalf of a unanimous court (PDF), Associate Justice Thomas A. Cromwell said that while the women who filed the class action lawsuit from Vancouver's Downtown East Side (DTES) may not represent an active criminal case at this moment in time (in the sense that none of the women leading the class are facing prosecution nor are victims who have filed charges against attackers); but the argument they present is clearly in the public interest and that there has to be certainty as to what the law in this matter should be.

Therefore, wrote Cromwell, the attempts by Team PMS to quash the litigation and have the laws kept as is without a hearing should be trashed -- and as a result the case has been remanded back to the BC courts for further hearing.

Frankly I think the SCC should have taken it further and instead actually had a full oral hearing now, consolidated with the parallel case from Ontario -- simply delaying that hearing only gives PMS even more time to demonize victims rather than helping them as he claims.    I do not as a rule like courts rewriting laws but if it is in the public interest to strike down patently unfair laws and Parliament or the majority in the legislature refuses to even consider the issue, then the courts should do so with due course.    This is clearly a case of the "cure being worse than the disease" and we need to address it ASAP.   Parliament should take the lead here but it's not going to happen with the so-called so-cons.

It is my hope that whatever the result is, a more practical and humane approach to the issue comes out.    We must absolutely put our foot down on the rape and torture of prostitutes, and have zero tolerance for anyone who enslaves someone under eighteen whether for sex or not, but the current status quo is untenable.

There should be laws that actually make sense -- that go after pimps and other predators -- and not go after sex trade workers or to make it a crime to report a sexual assault merely because one is in the trade himself or herself by choice or coercion.   In other words we should actually protect the rights of those who are voluntarily in the trade and helps the already victimized -- and not give the advantage to the bad guys, or make cowards out of the rest of us.

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