November 22, 2010

Prositution laws in Ontario under scrutiny

CANADA/SEX - This past September an Ontario Superior Court judge struck down three key prostitution laws, and that decision is set to come into effect in Ontario on Saturday November 27th. The result will be an “unprecedented” social experiment to see whether brothels is a safer place for prostitutes than walking the streets, and whether prostitutes have the right to use the money they make to feed their families and the right to hire bodyguards and staff, and perhaps most importantly the right to screen customers.

The three laws struck down prohibited the use of brothels, the ability to hire staff/give money from the proceeds to family members, and a communication law which prohibited prostitutes from screening customers with criminal records.

The laws were struck down because the judge ruled that these laws made it less safe for prostitutes. The concept is that prostitutes will be much safer if they have the right to operate a brothel, that they need the right to feed their family and hire bodyguards/staff for their protection, and that they should be given the right to screen customers who might have a violent criminal record.

However the new status of these laws isn't a done deal yet. The federal and Ontario governments are today before the provincial Appeal Court, asking for the ruling to be stayed until a proper appeal can be heard.

Lawyers for the federal government say if a stay isn’t granted, Saturday will bring about a “social experiment unprecedented in this country.”

But lawyers representing sex workers say those laws contribute to the dangers faced by prostitutes, and that status quo can’t be maintained.

Soliciting sex and pimping are still illegal in Canada.

See Also
Canadian Feminists divided over Prostitution
Criminalizing the Men

In other news...

Judge in Murder Trial declares Mistrial

The judge for Erika Mendieta’s second murder trial has declared a second mistrial Monday. Mendieta is charged with murdering her daughter in 2003 after she beat her 2-year-old daughter Emily to death. The judge ruled that the prosecutor from her first trial had distracted the jury and intimidated the defendant.

Mendieta’s second trial had begun to crumble when the jury sent a note to Justice Nola Garton asking that a man be removed from the courtroom gallery because he was making strange faces. The man in question turned out to be assistant Crown attorney Paul Alexander, the prosecutor from the 1st trial.

The note read:

“Dear Your Honour, We the jury would like to have a male individual removed from the courtroom. We find him very distracting, and he is making strange faces all the time. We feel very uncomfortable with him. He sits to your right, and has blond hair.”

They included a diagram of the courtroom, marking the spot where Alexander sat with an asterisk and the words “He sits here!”

The judge determined that Paul Alexander was deliberately trying to distract the jury and intimidate the woman on trial and declared a mistrial. A third trial will be held in the future.

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