Oh Canada!

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Sex work is legal in Canada, but brothels are not. The British Columbia Coalition of Experiential Women –an alliance of sex workers–wants to legalize a sex worker co-op in time for the 2010 olympics. Here's the vision:

The incorporated group would operate a museum and gallery to showcase the artwork and history of showgirls and prostitutes, she said. It would also run a dinner club with burlesque performances under the same roof as the brothel.

Any sex worker could join for a nominal fee and be able to rent clean rooms cheaply, she said. Although they would share expenses, members would set their own fees and keep their profits. The co-op would also enforce labor standards.

The Vancouver Rape Relief and Women's Shelter objects on the grounds that "an overwhelming majority of prostitutes would leave the sex trade if given a choice," which is both nonresponsive and inconsistent with surveys of American sex workers. (Women report better pay and control over their work schedules as reasons for choosing sex work over entry level minimum-wage jobs, unsurprising given the centrality of self-employment in more general surveys of subjective wellbeing.) A more coherent objection comes from another quarter: other hookers.

So far, some of the strongest opposition has come from escort agencies threatened by the prospect of organized competition, Davis said. Politicians and local businesses have largely been supportive.

NEXT: "Wings" to Go

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  1. So far, some of the strongest opposition has come from escort agencies threatened by the prospect of organized competition, Davis said. Politicians and local businesses have largely been supportive.

    Q. Who wants government regulation in the marketplace?
    A. Established business interests wanting to stifle competition.

    But we all knew that, didn’t we?

  2. True enough, but (if I’m reading the article correctly) the alliance is applying for an exemption. The escort agencies could rightly object that the co-op is being given an unfair advantage.

  3. There are links on all kinds of articles here, but not one on how people like being prostitutes. Hmmmm?

  4. So far, some of the strongest opposition has come from escort agencies threatened by the prospect of organized competition.

    Shows that special interest lobbying is interventionist and anti-free-market. Ironically, they have the right to lobby governments because of the free society/market.

    Off topic: Talking about Canada — just saw a “Ron Paul for Prime Minister!” bumper sticker. Could hurt RP if displayed on a car the US 😉

  5. So the Canucks have legal prostitutes (though not brothels) and Nevada has legal brothels and both places haven’t been struck down by God yet. In fact, they’re doing quite well.

    What conclusion would a normal person make from that?

  6. What conclusion would a normal person make from that?

    Pat Robertson: That they will be struck in the future!?

  7. Women report better pay and control over their work schedules as reasons for choosing sex work over entry level minimum-wage jobs

    That probably says more about how awful minimum-wage jobs are than anything else.

  8. Kerry, if you look into research that has been done into the sex trade, the average age of entry is 14, usually by girls fleeing abusive homes or addicted to drugs. Please don’t present this as just another career choice offered by the market.

  9. Man, look out Kerry, Bill Pontifex has “research” on his side!

  10. Also, as someone who lives in the Vancouver area, the impetus for this was the murder of a hooker, so as to provide a safer working environment. You may have heard of Robert Picton, a local who is on trial now for the murder of close to 50 street walkers.

  11. Timothy: would comments out of ignorance be preferable?

  12. I’m gonna show Canada my O face.

  13. Kerry, if you look into research that has been done into the sex trade, the average age of entry is 14, usually by girls fleeing abusive homes or addicted to drugs.

    Linky?

  14. Why isn’t Amsterdam’s experience mentioned here? They don’t seem to have problems.

  15. What conclusion would a normal person make from that?

    God is busy helping LT score touchdowns.

  16. God is busy helping LT score touchdowns.

    Why would Lawrence Taylor need help from God to score touchdowns?

  17. I think there’s an important distinction to be made between street hookers and women who work for escort services. The former is clearly an act of desperation while the latter can be a rational career choice.

  18. Kerry, if you look into research that has been done into the sex trade, the average age of entry is 14, usually by girls fleeing abusive homes or addicted to drugs.

    Linky?

    Jake Boone, beat me to it. IIRC, The brothels in Nevada don’t hire many 14 year olds. Sheesh!

  19. I don’t have a link, but I’m pretty sure the horrors of the sex trade are greater where it’s legally prohibited.

  20. Prostitution is wrong, period, and should be illegal. It is just another facet of the evil patriarchy forcing abuse on women. Men don’t need prostitutes or women for that matter, that is why God made hands.

  21. Given the backward social policies of the Conservatives I really can’t see this working out. The NDP and the Liberals aren’t as bad (although they’re worse economically), but on any issue which might lose them popular support (marijuana/drug law reform, etc.) the most they’ll do is pay lip service and ignore it. My guess is that a couple MPs will support it, but any bill will be defeated at first reading.

  22. Venkatesh, who is anti-sex trade, has a helpful review of the relevant literature (pdf): http://www.sociology.columbia.edu/pdf-files/murphyvenkarticle.pdf

  23. although they’re worse economically

    What have the conservatives done better economically?

  24. “conservatives” as in “Conservative Party”.

  25. Men don’t need prostitutes or women for that matter, that is why God made hands.

    Ah yes, Miss Michigan.

  26. The Catch-22 here is that while prostitution itself is illegal solicitation is not. Well into the 70s the Toronto police rounded up streetwalkers on a regular basis and every so often someone was arrested and charged with “keeping a bawdy house”.

    More often than not those charged with “keeping a bawdy house” were not actually running a brothel in the sense that customers went there seeking a service but were hotelkeepers who turned a blind eye to what was going on in their rooms (and sometimes getting kickback from the hookers who brought their johns there).

    I don’t know to what extent the laws have changed in the last twentyfive or so years but back then escort services had to watch that they did not cross the line into solicitation.

  27. Wow, my phrase “Women’s Interpretive Dance Theater” is on the verge of going mainstream!

    Support Women in the Arts! Bonus for ink-free artists, of course.

  28. 28 posts on a Canadian issue that has to do with sex, but only 12 posts on three Americans winning the Nobel prize in economics, on mechanism design theory (something that seems un-libertarian, that on a fundamental level can affect all of us), and we are here debating a sex-related issue. Tells you something about human nature. Sort of like the weekend thread, and the “conservative t-shirt girl in the ad”.

  29. Pimping for Big Pimp now, are we?

  30. The British Columbia Coalition of Experiential Women –an alliance of sex workers–wants to legalize a sex worker co-op in time for the 2010 olympics.

    About as likely as Prime Minister Harper joining the Chippendales.

  31. Vs. Echoing for Big Eco, iih.

  32. Linky?

    For Canada
    http://isw.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/42/4/445

    International Social Work, Vol. 42, No. 4, 445-454 (1999)
    ? 1999 IASSW, ICSW, IFSW
    Adolescent prostitution in Canada and the Philippines: Statistical comparisons, an ethnographic account and policy options
    Christopher Bagley

    Department of Social Work, University of Southampton, UK

    A Canadian study of ex-prostitutes in Alberta indicated that many had been sexually abused within their families. A comparison with sexually abused controls who did not enter the sex trade indicated less severe sexual abuse and less association with other forms of family violence and abuse. As runaways from abusive homes young adolescents are at risk from pimps and drug dealers. A comparison is drawn with juvenile prostitution involving girls in Bombay and Manila, and it is argued that female child prostitution is much less in these cities than in Calgary.

    For the US:
    Sociological Inquiry

    Volume 73 Issue 4 Page 511-528, November 2003

    Using survey data obtained from 309 women working in street-level prostitution in Phoenix, Arizona, this investigation examines the influence of minority status, educational level, and the experience of risk factors in an individual’s childhood or adolescence on the hazard rate for age of entry into prostitution. Findings of this study show that women engaging in prostitution have limited educational backgrounds and often do not complete high school. Results indicate that both white and minority women engaging in prostitution experienced high rates of physical and sexual abuse in childhood, as well as parental substance abuse. When compared to minority women, white women are more likely to have experienced any one of these three risk factors thought to influence entry into prostitution, yet event-history analysis indicates that minority women consistently experience significantly higher hazard rates for entry into prostitution. Findings suggest the need for future research to better assess the impact of race-in the form of socioeconomic and social disadvantages associated with minority status-as it relates to entry into the sex trade.

  33. IIH: They haven’t done too much (cut GST by 1%, added a few tax credits that aren’t alll that significant), but I think that’s more than the Liberals and especially the NDP would have done. I agree that they’re not terribly different though.

  34. As runaways from abusive homes young adolescents are at risk from pimps and drug dealers.

    Yet these young runaways are NOT at risk from the likes of coal-mining foremen and alcohol sellers. Hmm. How very odd that the illegal industries prey on young folk, while the legal ones do not. Almost like there’s some sort of correlation, huh?

    Also, since the survey focused only on streetwalkers, of course that’s going to skew the stats considerably.

  35. Some firsthand knowledge and opinions from someone who lived the life, in both Vancouver and Toronto:

    Javina’s Prostitution FAQ

    Be sure to click on the “More Questions and Answers” for an additonal page.

  36. The problem here is a manifestation of child-labor laws, which forbid people who run away from home from actually earning a living. Since they can’t support themselves legally, they must find work on the black market, and end up being exploited.

    If you want to get rid of the exploitation of children, rather than oultawing prostitution legalize other forms of work. That way a 14 year old girl isn’t forced to choose between hooking on the street and being raped every night by her dad.

  37. Reilly: In any case, I really think that they are the stick that Canadians use to punish the liberals once they start misbehaving.

  38. “So far, some of the strongest opposition has come from escort agencies threatened by the prospect of organized competition….”

    As we all know, restraint of competition is frequently achieved via licensing schemes; where there are licenses, there must also be proficiency testing.

  39. there must also be proficiency testing

    And, it goes without saying, testers.
    That would be either a really great job or a most horrible one.
    But hell, all the Viagra you can eat!

  40. Kerry’s just a shill for Big Pimpin’.

  41. So the Canucks have legal prostitutes (though not brothels) and Nevada has legal brothels and both places haven’t been struck down by God yet. In fact, they’re doing quite well.

    What conclusion would a normal person make from that?

    episiarch — that God is giving plenty of opportunities for repentence before smiting these sinners?

  42. Canadian hookers? Sounds about as exciting as “Worthwhile Canadian initiative.”

    http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank?pid=52356

  43. Normal, God-Fearing ‘Merican:

    I thought the people of Grensburg, Kansas were mostly God fearing decent folk. There must be something more to it than just doing sins, or being good. BTW, this comes from a God-fearing person, just not too simplistic in explaining God or how He works.

  44. Yet these young runaways are NOT at risk from the likes of coal-mining foremen and alcohol sellers.

    If male they need fear the most evil exploiters of them all: old men with yards that need mowing and raking!

  45. That probably says more about how awful minimum-wage jobs are than anything else.

    Dan T: Like most people in this country, I started my working life with a minimum wage job. Would I have traded that so that street creeps could watch me pee in an alley for $20 a pop? No.

  46. iih — My 1:50 pm post was meant to be wry and tongue-in-cheek. Our actions do have consequences, as anyone reading the Prostition FAQ at the 1:15 pm post can conclude — the author has paid a heavy price for her past actions. But, if you believe in God, it logically follows that the consequences can’t be immediate and proportional to the misdeed, or no one would ever sin, thus taking away the gift of free agency. God is not a statist — He is a loving father who does not want to take away our right to make choices, however much our choices may aggrieve Him.

    Anyway, that’s an LDS take on agency (other Mormons view agency in a more authoritarian fashion, such as Romney) — what is your view from a Muslim perspective?

  47. prolefeed: (I did expect it to be wryness, but was not sure)

    what is your view from a Muslim perspective?

    It is quite deep and there is no easy brief answer. Check this article out.

    The important lines from that article are:

    As for human beings, they are not completely masters of their fates, nor are they puppets subject to the hazards of destiny. Allah gave humans limited power and great freedom, including the freedom of choice. That autonomy makes each individual accountable for his or her deeds.

    Accountability is quite important in Islam. No such thing as Original Sin (why should I be held responsible for Adam AND Eve’s “mistake”), or “you’re automatically forgiven” if you are a “born again Muslim”. So, better make these decisions wisely.

  48. Women report better pay and control over their work schedules as reasons for choosing sex work over entry level minimum-wage jobs, unsurprising given the centrality of self-employment in more general surveys of subjective wellbeing.

    The real puzzle that would need explaining (if you didn’t know any better) was not how an woman could sell sex for pay, but why a lot more women don’t.

    In honour of the new Nobel laureates, and as proof I can think of sex and economics at the same time (with some effort):

    Lena LE Edlund, Evelyn EK Korn. A Theory of Prostitution. Journal of Political Economy, Volume 110, Number 1 (February 2002), pp. 181-214.

    Abstract: Prostitution is low-skill, labor intensive, female, and well paid. This paper proposes a marriage market explanation to this puzzle. If a prostitute compromises her marriage market prospects, she will have to be compensated for forgone marriage market opportunities. We discuss the link between poverty and prostitution and show that prostitution may decrease with male income if wives and prostitutes are drawn from the same pool of women. We point to the role of male sex ratios, and males in transit, in sustaining high levels of prostitution, and we discuss possible reasons for its low reputation and implications for marriage patterns.

    The article’s worth it just for the survey of work done on comparing the pay of prostitutes to other “pink collar” jobs. We’re not just talking minimum wage “McJobs” either. One caught my eye, if only because it made me wonder how much this explained about why Canadian health care was so bad:

    Ford (1998) analyzed a sample of street prostitutes in Montreal matched with a sample of hospital workers in 1993: 20 female and 26 male prostitutes were matched with hospital orderlies. Other than gender, the matching was done on the basis of marital status, number of years on the job, and time of shifts worked (evening vs. day). The prostitutes had higher earnings than orderlies, and female prostitutes earned more than male prostitutes (among orderlies, men earned more than women). Whereas no orderlies of either sex earned more than Canadian $50,000 a year, 75 percent of the female and 35 percent of the male prostitutes did so, despite the finding that prostitutes had lower educational attainments. In terms of work environment, prostitution and hospital work were surprisingly similar in terms of both perceived stress level and actual assault rates.

    (Saw my first Ron Paul for President sign near Plattsburgh, New York, yesterday.)

  49. (Saw my first Ron Paul for President sign near Plattsburgh, New York, yesterday.)

    (What about the “Ron Paul for Prime Minister!”. Should get one. I have a soft-copy that I can email you if you would like.)

  50. iih — agreed with most of the post you linked to. Disagree with two concepts: that God / Allah controls all outcomes, and that our course is predetermined: “Thus He knows in advance which path – good or evil – each individual will choose and what will be his or her final destination – Paradise or Hell. But such knowledge does not mean that He makes each person choose a certain path.”

    Mark Twain made some cogent remarks on this philosophy in “The Mysterious Stranger”, which if you haven’t read you ought to if you enjoy Mark Twain at his best.

    I’m not saying that this belief you linked to is wrong — it is impossible to prove it true or false whether we truly control how our lives turn out — only that it makes me queasy to believe that my life is predetermined, and that my choices are an illusion and everything is on a well-greased track we can’t get off, and we only think we can change course. What you describe appears to be the illusion of choice, rather than actual choice.

    It makes life more hopeful if we in fact have some measure of control about what we will do.

    Again, thanks for the link.

  51. The question of destination and free will was a big subject amongst philosophers and theologists during the golden age of Islamic philosophy. It is not entirely as clear cut as the website I linked to says (the website is probably providing the most “mainstream” version of the Islamic viewpoint).

    I personally believe, for example, that there is real choice (as opposed to illusionary), and hence, there is a lot that is in my hand. Proof of this are Quranic phrases like “There is no compulsion in religion”, or all these “dos and don’ts” that can be violated or followed, with intended consequences, etc. The website I provided was trying to play it safe since free will could be quite contentious.

  52. other “pink collar” jobs

  53. prolefeed

    I can’t say I enjoyed Twain’s “The Mysterious Stranger” – way too depressing and cynical. IIRC, most critics regard it as Twain’s attempt to reconcile Religious beliefs with his belief in human freedom.

  54. Unionized prostitutes? Gawd almighty, that sure puts a damper on the fire, don’t it?

  55. Unionized prostitutes give new meaning to the word ‘scabs’.

    sorry…

  56. iih-When I first heard the news about the Nobel in economics I immediately thought what Hit and Runners would say about it, since the work (according to the radio story I heard) deals with conditions under which markets work or don’t work. Hey, for many here that latter event is unimaginable, or at least not to be talked about in polite company.

    I will say that I have no objections to t-shirt girl being a sex worker, since that would increase any chance I have of getting with her (in fact prostitution strikes me as significantly democratizing access to such fine, fine tail) ;).

  57. (in fact prostitution strikes me as significantly democratizing access to such fine, fine tail) ;).

    Mmmno, ‘democratizing’ would probably mean that it would be rationed by a state entity (a state entity in power via democratic process). This is a purely market oriented access. You pay, you play.

  58. Paul-I meant that markets are very democratic. In this instance you need not have the looks and personality to get the gal, just greenbacks, which are usually more widely distributed than the former.
    Note: I’m critical of the idea that markets are magic, but that does not make someone who does not appreciate the uses and pluses of markets, democratization of access to a host of things being prominent among them…

  59. “does not make ME someone who does not…”

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