Removal of criminal law removes the main barrier to sex workers achieving justice. It creates a space that can be filled by effective rights based policy and labour regulations and law. This is what happenned in the much touted example of New Zealand. But ‘decriminalisation’ is not a solution in itself, and it is not a solution if the gap it creates is filled with wrong policy and law. Good regulations and policy don’t automatically kick in when criminal laws are removed – even in rich and well governed countries, let alone where regulatory systems generally are not well organised. The process of struggling for effective rights based policy and labour law must now take place in Canada and it’s regrettable that the energy of activists there will first be diverted by an appeal against Justice Himel’s judgement. What happens next in Canda will be important for the world and we are lucky indeed to have such strong and determined sex workers activists there to drive that process. Forward and Upward !
Read more of Cheryl Overs’ posts about law and sex work on the PLRI blog plri.wordpress.com.