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Sex worker Terri-Jean Bedford answers questions following an Ontario court ruling striking down prostitution laws Sep 28, 2010. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Sex worker Terri-Jean Bedford answers questions following an Ontario court ruling striking down prostitution laws Sep 28, 2010. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

Earlier discussion

Dominatrix takes questions on ruling against prostitution laws Add to ...

Melissa: First off, congratulations! I was interesting in finding out the main differences, in your opinion, between legalization and decriminalization of sex work. Do you think legalization would allow for better protection of sex workers, or would decriminalization be prefered?

Terri-Jean Bedford: I think first of all that this is a question for lawyers, judges, scholars and above all the Prime Minister. But I do think that the answer would emerge when the full range of reforms is being considered.

Still Skeptical: Hello Ms. Bedford, I am pleased to see that prostitutes have been decriminalized, but I am concerned that this won't serve to protect prostitutes who are most vulnerable. Have you read Shelagh Day's report on prostitution (her research that indoor prostitution is not safer)? What do you say to feminist arguments for abolition?

The Globe and Mail: Click here for a link to a pdf of Ms. Day's report.

Terri-Jean Bedford: I have read the report and like so many others drummed up in opposition to our challege it is terribly flawed.

Guest: Further to my point, given the lucrative nature of sex trade, what would be the incentive for sex workers to give up a significant portion of their income?

Terri-Jean Bedford: I presume you are referring to payment of taxes. The same applies to numerous businesses and incomes. Why single out this type of service?

Vince: How are you doing now Terri. have you recovered from the government induced setback?

Terri-Jean Bedford: I did reopen a second facility in 1999 and closed it early in 2002. So I did get back on my feet, but since then my health failed and I am now essentially retired.

John: How do you believe the ruling will affect current escort operations? Do you believe most will now offer both in/outcall services or will most convert to incalls only to promote a safer environment?

Terri-Jean Bedford: I think at this date that largely depends on how the government responds to the decision. The Prime Minister has a choice. He can be decisive or he can hide behind the skirts of the woman judge and say its before the courts. Nonsense. It's before him.

Eileen: Hi Terri-Jean, congrats on the win. Will the legalization of sex work help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs?

Terri-Jean Bedford: Yes. Women will more freely seek advice and assistance and this is one of the ways they can protect themselves. This was also a health and safety matter.

Oralia: Can you comment on what seems to be the rising trend towards the criminalization of "the demand" or the people who purchase sex? I recently heard that at least two Latin American countries have approved the criminalization of clients, similarly to the steps taken in Norway and Sweden. And more countries seem to have proposed bills to discuss and finally approve similar laws. What do you think?

Terri-Jean Bedford: If the Prime Minister wishes to support that let him say so and let Parliament judge him. In my view, that would keep the activity underground and we are back where we are now. Nothing can be worse than that.

Melissa: Thank you for your answer... I am currently studying sex work in a philosophy course offered by Queen's University. We had a discussion with two women involved in sex work earlier last week; both women had different views regarding whether legalization or decriminalization would better protect those engaged in sex work. Hopefully new insight into which method would be more helpful will come to light soon. Overall, I think it would be helpful to have laws regulating sex work so as to promote this type of work in a healthy and safe manner. Thank you again for your comments and congrats again on the win :)

Guest: Hello. I think that violence against sex workers is very deeply set into the culture of this society through the obvious narratives of hatred of women as well as racism, classism etc. I personally remember jokes about "whores" going back to to my grade school. Do you think that explaining sex work should be part of sex education in schools as part of a larger program of normalizing the labour and dissolving harmful myths about it?

Terri-Jean Bedford: I am not sure that teaching about sex work in the early grades of school would be that helpful. Maybe in high school. It depends, again, on what the law will allow as sex work going forward.

Guest: This ruling is the first intelligent thing that has come along in quite a long while. Bravo!

The Globe and Mail: Thank you for joining us today, Terri-Jean. It's been a fascinating discussion. Keep following this story at globeandmail.com.

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