In Canada, more than ever, adult consensual sex work is conflated with sex trafficking — by law enforcement, the media, women's organizations, faith-based groups and the public. Organizations like SWAN work hard to prevent trafficking and address it if it occurs, but shutting down sites like Backpage is not the way to do that.
Prohibiting advertising pushes sex work further underground, where exploitation is more likely and harder to detect. Online classified sites have enabled SWAN to connect with women who tend to be isolated due to their newness in the community and the stigma around sex work. Using sites like Backpage, SWAN has become known in the migrant and immigrant sex-work community as a trustworthy support organization giving women a channel to deal with workplace problems.
The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act introduced in criminalized third-party advertisers like Backpage, although few charges have been laid to date.
Shortly after the law came into force, many websites imposed stricter posting criteria for adult-oriented ads, banning the use of sexual terminology. This prevents sex workers from clearly communicating in their ads what services they provide, increasing the risk for misunderstanding and potential violence. Pivot Legal Society has heard from people across the country that the new law makes sex work more challenging and dangerous.
That is bitterly ironic, given that the law was enacted to replace our former prostitution laws, which were declared unconstitutional for putting sex workers' lives at risk in a court challenge known as the Bedford case.
In the case — in which Pivot was an intervenor — the Supreme Court of Canada found unequivocally that client screening was among the most crucial safety measures for sex workers. The ban on advertising violates sex workers' rights to personal security and freedom of expression.
Canada does not need legislation that inhibits communication between sex workers and their clients and impedes sex workers from working independently indoors. We also won't eliminate trafficking through a crack-down on channels like Backpage that allow sex workers like Li to work more safely.
Rather than blindly following the U. Law-making and law-enforcement responses to trafficking should be predicated on people's lived experiences, not popular hysteria. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way.
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Article text size A. Brenda Belak and Kim Mackenzie. The market for sex was one of the first to move online. Before, sex work mostly consisted of street walkers, often controlled by pimps, and higher-end escorts who typically worked with agencies. The middle men were necessary to find and screen clients. Sex workers gave up control of their lives, and their earnings, for regular access to customers and some modicum of safety.
One-third of all sex-worker homicides are due to murder by serial killers pdf. At the same time, pimps were also a regular source of violence. Starting in the late s, sex workers struck out on their own and advertised on different websites like Craigslist. Soon, specialized websites sprung up to serve different segments of the market: Craigslist personals and Backpage on the lower end, and sites like Eros on the higher end.
Providers no longer needed to rely on middle men to find clients because they could advertise directly to them. Sex workers could also screen clients before they met them to ensure they were not violent or police or both. Sex workers developed a referral network, including message boards to warn each other about dangerous clients.
They were able to verify customer identity by calling their employers and asking for forms of ID. Meanwhile, customers reduced their risk by posting detailed reviews on sites like the Erotic Review. This mutual screening made sex worker safer. More money, independence, and safety attracted more sex workers into the market. Yet even as supply and transparency increased, the price for sex also increased. This is because more high-end escorts entered the market, and escorts use the websites to compare pricing information.
The sites were able to host ads for illegal sex work because Section of the Communications Decency Act does not hold them accountable for the free speech of their users. The purpose of the bill was to reduce sex trafficking following a two-year Senate investigation into Backpage. The investigation found BackPage knowingly aided sex trafficking of women and girls.
Last week, the Justice Department announced seven people were indicted on 93 counts related to facilitating prostitution and money laundering....