Holiday Pimp Chocolate

International Sex Worker Day December 17, 2005


December 17th 2005

{Letter to MPs to follow}

Sex Professionals of Canada (SPOC) has posted letters with a chocolate coin to all 308 Members of Parliament to mark International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers ( December 17 ) and the twentieth ‘anniversary’ of the implementation of the communicating law, section 213, ( December 21 ). We are urging that all consenting, adult sex work be decriminalized in Canada.

At least six hundred (600) Canadian sex workers have gone missing or have been murdered since the Mulroney government passed the Communicating Law on December 21, 1985. For the past twenty years the federal government has been sending out a clear message:

That we are a societal nuisance and disposable.

In response, we are sending a clear message:

That we are human beings, and are entitled to basic human and work place rights, like everyone else.

Dear Honourable Sir/Madame:
Congratulations — you’re now a pimp under Canadian law! Under section 212 of the Canadian Criminal Code (procuring), part J, “Everyone who lives wholly or in part on the avails of prostitution of another person is guilty of an indictable offense and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.” Under our current laws, receiving this holiday gift of a chocolate coin from the prostitutes of Sex Professionals of Canada, makes you a pimp.
It’s this kind of absurdity that makes life unsafe for sex workers in Canada. The procuring law was ostensibly designed to protect sex workers. In actuality, what this law does is prevent us from participating in virtually any relationship whatsoever. It puts our spouses/lovers, friends, roommates and even our children if they are over twelve years of age at risk, as they can be charged with living on the avails of our work.
This is ensured under part 3 of the law: “Evidence that a person lives with or is habitually in the company of a prostitute, in the absence of evidence of the contrary, proof that the person lives on the avails of prostitution.” This law forces our loved ones and everyone we know to prove their innocence by demonstrating that they have not received anything from us or that they have even been habitually in our company!
Sex workers are equipped with the same intellectual capacity as any other person. We are fully able to make decisions about our relationships and how to spend our earnings. If a sex worker is in an abusive situation, there are already laws in place to deal with that, laws such as those against forcible confinement, assault, sexual assault, extortion, criminal harassment etc. There is no need to criminalize our everyday healthy relationships.
Section 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code (communicating) is our de facto death penalty. Twenty years ago on December 21 1985, the Mulroney government implemented the communicating law. Partly as a result of this law, at least six hundred of our colleagues are either missing or have been murdered. A large proportion of these sex workers are Aboriginal or another visible minority. Section 213 forces us to always be wary of police, and leaves us vulnerable to the predators who despise us. Section 213 sends a powerful message that we are a societal nuisance and disposable.
Furthermore, section 210 of the Canadian Criminal Code (bawdyhouse) makes it impossible for us to conduct business behind closed doors in the security of our familiar surroundings. If we do so, there are serious legal repercussions, such as imprisonment for up to two years. Because bawdyhouse laws fall under the ‘enterprise crime’ legislation, the authorities can — and routinely do — seize all of our possessions and funds. In our attempts to work safely, we can be incarcerated and left with nothing.
All of these laws serve to demonize, endanger and divorce sex workers from the rest of society.
If the federal government is truly concerned with our well being, then you as an elected official have a moral obligation to abolish sections 210, 212 and 213 of the Canadian Criminal Code, and decriminalize all consenting adult sex work.
We wish you a happy holiday, and best of luck on your election campaign.
Sincerely on behalf of SPOC,
Valerie Scott
Executive Director
Sex Professionals of Canada