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Jen, a sex trade worker or prostitute in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, waits for a customer. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)
Jen, a sex trade worker or prostitute in Vancouver’s downtown Eastside, waits for a customer. (John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail)

Women’s coalition plans to argue against legalizing prostitution Add to ...

A coalition of women’s groups is preparing to urge the Supreme Court of Canada not to legalize the sex trade, arguing any form of prostitution is a form of discrimination.

The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution is among the interveners in a case scheduled to be heard by the country’s highest court next month.

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The hearing involves an Ontario case that saw the province’s Appeal Court strike down the Criminal Code ban on bawdy houses on the basis that it increased the dangers prostitutes face because they are forced to work outside.

Janine Benedet, a lawyer and law professor who is representing the coalition, says she’ll be urging the court to craft a “third way” between the current laws and full-scale legalization.

Benedet agrees the current law violates the charter, and she says laws that target the vulnerable women who are forced into the sex trade should be struck down.

But she says it should still be illegal to buy sex and to pimp, and those laws should be used to aggressively prosecute johns and pimps.

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