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Why Decriminalize?: How Canada’s Municipal and Federal Regulations Increase Sex Workers’ Vulnerability

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-01, 16:16 authored by Emily van der MeulenEmily van der Meulen, Elya Maria Durisin

This article highlights two sectors of the Canadian sex industry, massage and escorting, to explicate how current Canadian municipal and federal regulations violate sex workers’ basic labour rights and contribute to physical and economic vulnerability. We begin with a discussion of the impact of the radical feminist position on sex work and an introduction to Canada’s current regulatory context on both the local and federal level. The article then moves to the two sex industry case studies. Traversing a fine line between illegality and legality, regulations can stigmatize and penalize common job-related massage and escort activities. The article concludes with an international example of decriminalization in New Zealand. We argue that in order to put forth realistic social and policy recommendations, it is necessary to first look to an instance where policies are forged with and by sex-working communities and where sex workers’ labour rights and health and safety standards are prioritized. 

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