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I'd like to think the lull in street prostitution in the downtown and Tranquille business districts is permanent, but I'm not optimistic. I don't totally get the Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that says sex trade workers should be able to hire bodyguards and work in brothels but communicating for the purposes of prostitution is still not OK. In Canada, as we know, prostitution itself isn't illegal, but talking about it is.
It's a very practical approach, since catching people making a deal is a lot easier than catching them in the act. What I'm wondering about is how, if the Ontario ruling becomes the new way of doing things, the prostitution business will work. How does someone set up shop with support staff and an address but not tell anybody about it and then expect to make a profit? It would be like having widgets for sale but keeping it a secret. The mayor of Kamloops says the issue of brothels has never been discussed by City council.
That's not true, not by a long shot. Street prostitution, and the alternative of brothels, has been a matter for debate inside and outside City Hall since the s during which business-licence fees were boosted for escort agencies and led to the Task Force on the Sex Trade in At that time, and for years after, the very focus of the prostitution debate was the impact of the visibility of the street trade versus the alternative of keeping it out of sight in brothels.
Red-light zones have flopped in tragic ways as they become magnets for criminal activity. Legalization has sometimes proven just another way to create a corrupt bureaucracy. And who would want a brothel next door to where you live? Ultimately, though, there isn't much civic governments can do about prostitution except try to reduce the harm it causes. If it moves somewhere else, follow it wherever it goes.
I hope he's right, and that prostitution won't make a return to the streets. But here and elsewhere, the issue will never go away, and we're going to be talking about it - including so-called "chicken" or "bunny ranches," the safety of sex-trade workers, and the attendant social issues of drug addiction and violence - for many years to come. So if the current council hasn't turned its mind to it yet, maybe the Ontario ruling is a good place to start.