Terri-Jean Bedford responds to new proposed prostitution laws

Reprinted with permission

Unlike the government I have read the document in question and had it carefully explained to me by experts. The new law would basically prohibit the purchasing of and advertising of sex for sale. It would also penalize persons who were in an exploitative relationship with sex trade workers. Mr. MacKay called sex work degrading and said other means must also be added by other bodies to enable women to get out of the sex trade.

I see now why Mr. Harper told McKay to table the bill while he was out of the country. The bill is a rework of the old legislation and will fare no better. We may not even need a constitutional challenge to gut it. It spits in the face of the courts and judges will know this. It repeats the legal and safety shortcomings of the old laws. It does not even define what is and what is not a sex act. As a dominatrix I need to know this so I can punish Mr. Harper for such incompetence.

Mr. MacKay called the sex trade degrading. Who the hell is he to tell women they have to only have sex for free? Who the hell is he to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do in private? How can he stand for a ban on advertising an activity that is legal? I have news for him. Many women love being sex trade workers. Many men who visit sex trade workers, which include some well known members of his own party, are prominent and highly regarded members of society who love their families.

This is the same government that kept insisting that the old laws were constitutional and should be kept. Are we going to believe them now? Neither he nor Mr. McKay nor the dumped Mr. Nicholson would say if they had read the decision of Justice Himel which the Supreme Court endorsed. It said there are plenty of existing laws which address the worst aspects of prostitution, aside from the ones she struck down.

Politics is the oldest profession. Mr. Harper and Mr. MacKay have trumped up incompetent and unethical legislation so they can blame the courts when all restrictions on the sex trade, as distinct from other forms of business, are finally removed. Just like the rest of his “Tough on Crime Agenda” this is a scam and ignores real measures that could be taken to protect Canadian women. Organized crime, human traffickers and exploitative pimps are celebrating today. Mr. Harper is encouraging the women in the sex trade to go underground, where these evil people lie in wait.

Terri-Jean Bedford Responds to the Federal Government’s Consultation on Prostitution

Reprinted with permission from Terri-Jean Bedford

Government Prostitution Survey Results- A Message From Terri-Jean Bedford

The survey is a scam. I say that despite the fact that the respondents agreed with us that the sale of sex should remain legal. The respondents were also not decisively against the purchase of sex or in favour of charging all the associates of sex workers. So even this rigged survey, assuming we are being correctly informed about the response, does not give clear direction to the government. I say the survey was rigged and a scam for a number of reasons. Here are some of them. For one, who drew up the questions? Why wasn’t there a question asking if the government should tell consenting adults what they can do in private for money? Why wasn’t there a question asking what should be included in the definition of a sex act or sex? Why wasn’t there a question about which crimes police should ignore in order to devote scarce resources to ensuring that women only have sex for free? As to criminalizing the purchase of sex, I am including below an open letter from many leading Canadian intellectuals familiar with the issues at hand. I ask you to read the letter. Look as well at who received it and who sent it. It should convince you that if the government does introduce the so-called Nordic approach it will ensure that Mr. Harper and his ministers will be seen as cowards only looking out for themselves by doing what organized crime wants them to do: meaning preventing women from protecting themselves, ensuring they can only have sex for free and denying consenting adults in private basic liberty. We can do better than that. Ask the Supreme Court.

OPEN LETTER CALLING FOR DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK IN CANADA AND OPPOSITION TO CRIMINALIZING THE PURCHASING OF SEX

Right Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada,
Hon. Tom Mulcair, Leader of the Official Opposition, the New Democratic Party of Canada,
Hon. Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada,
Mr. Jean-Francois Fortin, Interim Leader of the Bloc Québécois,
Hon. Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada,

Dear Sirs and Madam,

Re: Evidence-Based Call for Decriminalization of Sex Work in Canada and Opposition to Criminalizing the Purchasing of Sex

We, the undersigned, are profoundly concerned that the Government of Canada is considering the introduction of new legislation to criminalize the purchasing of sex. The proposed legislation is not scientifically grounded and evidence strongly suggests that it would recreate the same social and health-related harms of current criminalization. We join other sex worker, research, and legal experts across the country and urge the Government of Canada to follow the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision and support decriminalization of sex work as a critical evidence-based approach to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers. A large body of scientific evidence from Canada, Sweden and Norway (where clients and third parties are criminalized), and globally clearly demonstrates that criminal laws targeting the sex industry have overwhelmingly negative social, health, and human rights consequences to sex workers, including increased violence and abuse, stigma, HIV and inability to access critical social, health and legal protections. These harms disproportionately impact marginalized sex workers including female, Indigenous and street-involved sex workers, who face the highest rates of violence and murder in our country. In contrast, in New Zealand, since the passage of a law to decriminalize sex work in 2003, research and the government’s own evaluation have documented marked improvements in sex workers’ safety, health, and human rights. Therefore, we call on the Government of Canada to join with global leaders, community, researchers and legal experts in rejecting criminalization regimes, including those that criminalize the purchase of sexual services, and instead support the decriminalization of sex work in Canada as scientifically-grounded and necessary to ensuring the safety, health, and human rights of sex workers. Below, we briefly outline our key concerns.
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Terri-Jean Bedford addresses the Law Union of Ontario

This is the prepared text of the speech delivered to the Law Union of Ontario by Terri-Jean Bedford on March 21, 2014. Following her speech she has asked her supporters to distribute the text to the media and general public. Miss Bedford is a plaintiff in Bedford Versus Canada, in which three of Canada’s key prostitution laws were struck down by the Supreme Court in December 2013. Reprinted with her permission.

Before I say anything else I want to acknowledge Dr. Henry Morgantaler, who died this summer. I appreciate what he was up against, not just because I have been in legal wars and in jail too, but also because both of us were advocating for women. Blessed be his memory.

Now, on the lighter side, let me tell you a little story I think you’ll appreciate. Some years ago I was whipping a client strapped to a bench. With each lash he had to call out “thank you mistress, another please” and he had to sound like he meant it. After he had wept to my satisfaction I removed his restraints and let him kiss my boots. Then I told him to get dressed and meet me at the front door. Now get this. When I let him out the door we said goodbye to each other. He said “Goodnight mistress”. I said,“Goodnight, Your Honour”.

Speaking of judges, our judges are now, thankfully, addressing the federal government’s so called “Tough on Crime Agenda”, which is a scam. The government itself is an offender if laws passed are unconstitutional, or contrary to Canada’s values. Is it patriotic to focus on length of sentences and ignore overcrowding in prisons? Ignore the misuse of warrants? Ignore the underfunding of legal aid? Ignore spousal abuse? Ignore the shortage of shelters for women, or of shelters that accept family pets so the wife beaters can’t use the family pet as a hostage? Is it patriotic to be caught by surprise by the sexual harassment scandals about women and minorities in the armed forces and the RCMP? And, my friends, is it patriotic to tell women they can only have sex if they have it for free?
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Scientists vs. Ideologues

A scientist engages in evidence-based decision making, whereas an ideologue engages in decision-based evidence making. Which one are you?

Do you read a range of opinions and consult evidence from different sources before you make up your mind? Or do you cherry-pick stats and studies that suit your predisposed attitudes, and overlook anything that’s inconvenient to your opinion? Do you let your political identity (liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, whatever) dictate how you should feel about something, based on whether it’s a “left-wing” or “right-wing” issue? Or do you look at each issue of public policy independently, and realize that the world isn’t easily divided along a black-or-white dichotomy?

Once you’ve allowed yourself to be told how to feel about something because of what your political identity is, that’s when you stop being an independent thinker, and start being a partisan hack. Life isn’t about good or bad, left or right – it’s about choosing the best (or in some cases, least-bad) option amongst many. Never forget it.

Canada’s Sex Work Laws: Don’t Break What We Worked So Hard to Fix

With the momentous decision from the Supreme Court on December 20, Canada’s highest judicial authority confirmed what sex workers had known for many years: three of the laws restricting our trade were unconstitutional, and were decisively struck down. In their ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada left no doubt that these laws were not only ineffective, but dangerous; the SCC also told Parliament, in no uncertain terms, that watered-down versions of the same laws would not be acceptable replacements.

The court included a one-year stay of proceedings before the existing laws are to come off the books, ostensibly for Parliament to draft new laws. I have already written extensively on the Five Fatal Flaws of the Abolitionist Approach, and why criminalization of the clients is unwise. Further to that point, it is my contention that no new laws are required. The existing provisions of the Criminal Code of Canada are more than adequate to allow law enforcement to target the more harmful circumstances connected to prostitution, while simultaneously allowing consenting adults to do as we choose in the privacy of our own homes.

When it comes to prostitution, there are three aspects of sex work that the public finds most intolerable: the exploitation of children and youth, illegal trafficking in persons against their will, and disruptive displays of sexual solicitation. Each of these aspects are adequately covered by existing Criminal Code provisions, as I will outline below, and it is clear that the existing laws already give law enforcement the tools they need to stop these offenses when and where they occur.
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This should be interesting: Dominatrix to Question Harper

I received this press release in my inbox today, from my good friend Terri-Jean Bedford:

Dominatrix to Question Harper

I am the Bedford in the Bedford Versus Canada case. In their 9-0 decision last month the Supreme Court struck down Canada’s laws against prostitution once and for all. On the morning of January 8th I am releasing an article I have written, of just under 2,000 words, called “Prime Minister Harper’s Sexual Orientation”. In this article I try to provide some thinking points to those who think new laws should be added to the criminal code to replace the ones struck down by the Supreme Court. All recipients may share or publish this article or extracts from it. It is part of my contribution to the debate now under way. You may also see my recent blogs by visiting my Web site: terrijeanbedford.com. I can be reached at: terrijeanbedford@gmail.com.

I can hardly wait to hear what she has to say, but I suspect it might be along the lines of, “Stepher Harper has been a very bad boy…”

Supreme Court of Canada decision, December 20

I’m heading out of town tonight on a long-planned (and non-reschedulable) family vacation, so I won’t be online or reachable when the decision drops tomorrow morning. To my sex worker colleagues and allies, I’ll be with you in spirit, hoping that the SCC upholds Justice Himel’s original decision from September 2010, which would lead to the FULL decriminalization of sex work in Canada.

Fingers crossed, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and let’s hope that the court issues a ruling based on rationality, rather than ideology. Decriminalization is the ONLY choice.

One more thing about Ford…

… My criticism of him comes from a very special place – I was actually dumb enough to vote for him.

I don’t know if this makes my criticism of him more or less valid, but please, keep that important fact in mind before you accuse all his opponents of being leftie union-lovers. There are plenty of us who appreciate a fiscally-responsible platform who DON’T appreciate lies and deceit – and Ford will find that out in the next election when he struggles to gain 20% of the popular vote.

Also, why in the hell is my TweetBlender stuck on tweets from two months ago?!?