Decision keeps dirty little secret behind closed doors

An Ontario Court of Appeal decision that has legalized brothels and allows security and other staff to protect prostitutes, is “the most balanced approach the court could possibly reach,” says Toronto criminal lawyer Roots Gadhia.

Noting Bedford v. Canada is “not a very surprising result,” Gadhia says, “It has been clear for some several years that the courts have dealt with bawdy house charges by cutting (withdrawing) the ‘found-ins,’ in favour of prosecuting the owners of these dens of ill repute.

“The court has recognized that the women working in these environments are pawns and that the real culprits were the owners, madams or pimps,” says Gadhia.

“Bedford has brought to the forefront a very different perspective on the women who engage in this type of work; that many do so of their own free volition. The issue then is their safety, not just from their clients or pimps, but, from the authorities and state not to be prosecuted.”

Gadhia notes that “by legalizing brothels and legitimizing the business to allow the pimp or madam to then ensure the workers’ safety indoors, and at the same time by maintaining the ‘communicate for the purpose’ provision as criminal, the courts, I suspect, believe the prostitute will be effectively kept off the street – sent indoors where there is an appearance of protection or safety.

“Those engaged in the business of assisting the sex trade worker, albeit as specified for security reasons, would then be exempt from liability as it pertains to living off the avails.

The violent and manipulative pimp or madam who still engages in maintaining control over his or her charge, would still be liable criminally,” says Gadhia.

“In effect, this decision is really society’s desire to keep their dirty little secret behind closed doors,” she says.

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