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Polling has found a wide gender gap on most aspects of prostitution. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)
Polling has found a wide gender gap on most aspects of prostitution. (JOHN LEHMANN/The Globe and Mail)

THE CONVERSATION

June 14: This week’s Talking Point – criminalizing buying sex – and letters to the editor Add to ...

The Harper government’s push to criminalize buying sex has readers, print and digital, hot under the collar. Regardless of their views on prostitution, few seem to like the bill, which allows sex workers to sell their wares but makes it illegal to purchase them

........................................................................................................................................................................... People are under the illusion that punishing prostitutes as criminals somehow protects their communities from prostitution.

It doesn’t. All it does is mean that prostitutes have to rely on criminals for protection, and are unable to reach out for help to the legal system if they need it.

Malcolm Wright, Edmonton

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Allowing the sale of sexual-services while criminalizing buyers is a twisted scheme only a former prosecutor (which Justice Minister Peter MacKay was/is) could cook up.

Peter Lipskis, Vancouver

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Lysiane Gagnon deserves a thank you for underlining that we sex workers are not all victims (Sex-Work Bill Defies Logic – June 11). Yet, this is mostly the only side the public can see.

I (willingly) started in this work 18 years ago, through agencies. After several years, I made the jump and became a successful independent. Each year, I pay income taxes, including sales taxes, all from prostitution work.

I didn’t witness much abuse in my long career.

True, some agencies are more professional and fair than others. But this is one of the good things about advertising: We can shop around to find the one which suits our needs best. And regarding clients, over 90 per cent of those I have met have been quite … normal. To be frank, I’ve heard more crazy sex stories from “non sex-industry” individuals.

The strong majority don’t want anything deviant, just some physical intimacy and lots of affection. This new law will simply scare this type of client away.

Prices will go down, as the pool of clients will diminish. Safe-sex practices will be jeopardized. Agencies will go underground, the most professional will be replaced by shady ones. Encounters will now have to take place in hidden, unsafe locations.

It won’t affect me much, since I work on my own with a regular clientele. Those who will pay the price for this new law are specifically the ones who are supposed to gain from it: the most vulnerable ones of this industry.

S. Filion, sex worker, Montreal

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Prostitution is wrong and should be illegal. Working girls don’t do it because they “enjoy sex” or be-cause they find it “liberating,” they do it because they’re forced into it by pimps, homelessness and addiction. They are at huge risk of assault, rape, trauma, disease and being murdered.

People who want to support this are just ignorant, they’ve bought into some sort of fairy-tale image – who knows where they got it from – that has nothing to do with the horrific reality of prostitution.

Anne Marie McLennon, Whitby, Ont.

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The prostitutes are not trying to protect themselves when they choose to have intercourse with strangers; how can anyone protect these women from a would-be killer in a room?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is protecting the prostitutes by charging the Johns if they are caught buying sex from them. This should encourage some of the prostitutes to give up the trade. Then they would be trying to protect themselves.

Donna Thompson, Okanagan, B.C.

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The sheer naiveté of the social-conservative base about how the world works astounds me. These folks shouldn’t be anywhere near the levers of power if their heads are that far up in the clouds.

Making policy using wishful thinking will get people killed, all to fit into someone’s world view.

Anthony Aleksic, Calgary

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The proposed legislation only serves to push the sexual-service industry back into danger and darkness. The sex trade should be regarded as a professional occupation and recognized for the essential services it provides.

Services should be taken off the streets and allowed only in owner-operated, inspected facilities. Security services should be allowed and encouraged, clients should have to present photo ID, which would be recorded. (Canadian ID only, no sex tourists).

Minimum rates should be federally legislated to $150 to $200 an hour.

Some latitude should be allowed for the delivery of services to private residences, but conduct of business in any public location would be illegal. Service providers and customers operating outside of legal parameters would be subject to prosecution.

W. Robert Franklin, Brockville, Ont.

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Thanks to Lysiane Gagnon for pointing out that “prostitution cannot be eradicated by laws. It never has been and never will be.”

Here in Kingston, I recently heard an anecdote about a friend of a friend, who bought a home in a charming old area near the former railway station. On one of her first evenings exploring her new neighbourhood, she saw a sex-trade worker standing on a corner. She called the police. “Officer, there’s a prostitute at the corner of Railway and Montreal Street!”

The dispatcher replied, “Lady, there’s been a hooker standing on that corner for 200 years.”

John Lazarus, Kingston

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The U.K. announced this week that prostitution and drugs have added £65-billion to its economy. The common sense of England’s laws should be studied, as well as the Nordic countries.

Rodney Touche, Calgary

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In 1997, before surgery, I filled in a hospital form. After the usual name and address questions, I was taken aback by, “Have you ever paid for sex?” I answered “no,” but on the way home I realized this was not totally true. A rough calculation showed that after more than 30 years of marriage, it had probably cost me in excess of a million dollars.

Howard Dallimore, Vancouver

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Are we not now living in sexually liberating times, where intimate couplings are casually practised and freely dispensed? How can the “world’s oldest profession” still refuse to believe that only the riskiest of clients need to avail themselves of their services?

Joan McNamee, Kamloops, B.C.

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ON REFLECTION Letters to the Editor

Climate is a centrist issue

Climate change must become a centrist issue for voters (Who Can Save The Planet? Voters – June 13). The right, even some on the far left, paint an environment-vs.-economy scenario. It’s not. Necessities – food and energy – are the biggest contributors by far to climate change.

We need ways to improve carbon efficiency now, so we don’t have to make awful choices later between our necessities and our planet. Environmental economists overwhelmingly back putting a price on carbon to incentivize smart choices. Voters should demand this now.

Matt Burgess, Toronto

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Tad less dyspeptic, please

Re New Government, Old Problems (editorial, June 13): Could The Globe have been a tad less dyspeptic and, at least in your initial reaction to Kathleen Wynne’s victory, even – however grudgingly – congratulatory?

Yes, we voters know Ontario faces difficult problems, and we’re sorry to have disappointed you terribly, but an acknowledgment of her impressive success would have been a gracious gesture. There will be plenty of time to criticize over the next four years.

Mike Hutton, Ottawa

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It’s official: Gullible ’R’ Us

Notice to Ontario politicians: It is official, you can lie to us, waste billions of dollars of our money, indulge in the most scandalous behaviour – and the citizens of Ontario will vote you back in with a majority (A Result Even The Liberals Didn’t Dream Would Happen – June 13).

We try to teach young people that bad behaviour has consequences and then we vote the Liberals back into power to continue their disgraceful excesses.

Go figure!

Robert Jamieson, Mississauga

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Stamp out mailings charade

The Conservatives’ allegation that the NDP broke the rules over partisan mailings is truly absurd (Controversial Commons Committee Says New Democrat MPs Owe $1.17-Million – June 11). The Tories practically wrote the book on sending out over-the-top attack ads using taxpayer-funded mailing privileges. The mailings from my Conservative MP usually have a section to be mailed back, also at taxpayer expense, asking for my name and contact information. The NDP are absolutely right to ask a court to end this charade.

Joel MacDonald, Saskatoon

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