Sex Work Advocates Anticipate Liberal Action on Bill C-36

Interview With Stella’s Robyn Maynard Ahead of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

  • Robyn Maynard works with Stella, an organization that does street-based outreach and educates people about the realities faced by sex workers.

The Link sat down with Robyn Maynard, a sex work advocate, to talk about the future of Bill C-36, Canada’s newest prostitution law.

Maynard with Stella, an organization that does street-based outreach and educates people about the realities faced by sex workers

Leading up to the federal elections in fall 2015, the Liberal, NDP, and Green parties promised to revisit the law, which advocates say criminalizes prostitution.

“The Liberals have now been elected, they’ve been known to not keep all their campaign promises before, but we can hope C-36 is something that could now be repealed,” Maynard said.

In late 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canadian laws that banned brothels and living off of prostitution, calling them a violation of Canadian’s basic values. The Conservative majority government in power at the time had a year to rewrite the law, and by Dec. 6, 2014, Bill C-36 passed.

The law is based on the Swedish model which criminalizes third-parties, prosecuting “pimps” and anyone who helps advertise prostitution services.

Maynard and other advocates say the bill still puts sex workers in danger by making it illegal to use third parties to seek clients, advertise their services or hire personal protection.

In September, Maynard wrote an article, “#Blacksexworkerslivesmatter: White-Washed ‘Anti-Slavery’ and the Appropriation of Black Suffering,” disputing claims anti-prostitution advocates who call it modern day slavery.

“If you look at the fine print of what these organizations are doing, they’re lumping in consensual prostitution, stripping, massage and calling all these groups of people slaves,” she said.

“It’s distorting the reality in order to criminalize the sex industry, but it’s also piggybacking on what is really just an abhorrent part of Canadian, American, and Caribbean-European history. The actual slave trade is something that has massive effects on black populations, even to this day.”

Dec. 17 is the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. To mark the organization’s 20th anniversary, Stella is hosting discussions after an annual vigil in front of the Montreal courthouse. More information here.

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