Friday, November 5, 2010

Quebec Hookers Should think Twice about Going Legal

A recent Ontario court decision striking down aspects of Canada's prostitution laws has Quebec hookers and their support groups excited about legalization.
"....a coalition of academics, feminists, sex trade workers and human rights experts are to gather at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute to support a recent decision by Ontario Superior Court Judge Susan Himel striking down key sections of Canada's Criminal Code regulating prostitution.
"We believe sex workers have the right to live and work safely, in an environment free of violence and discrimination," a statement signed by 40 professors, lawyers and community activists says." LINK
Before embracing legalization, sex traders might just want to consider what they are getting themselves into, it might not be such a good deal.

Prostitution is not an easy vocation. For all but the exclusive high end "Eliot Spitzer' type of hooker, it can be dangerous and hard work that isn't particularly lucrative. 
Unfortunately, legalization won't change any of that.

What would legalization bring hookers?
Certainly they could crawl out from the murky undershadows of society, but if they think they will earn a measure of acceptance in the mainstream, they are sorely mistaken. Legal or not, hookers are on the bottom of the respect list. While men may be ambivalent, women hate them with a passion.
On the positive side, legalization may release hookers from the stranglehold that their pimps exercise over their lives, brutally dictating their work conditions and taking a sizable chunk of their earnings.

But with legalization, prostitutes would be encumbered with the responsibilities of good citizenship including the obligation to obey laws and pay taxes on income.
Sadly, This would eliminate any savings they would gain by getting rid of their of pimp. Come to think of it, pimps provide a certain level of protection and a steady stream of customers.
The government...not so much. Hmmm..

It's true that prostitutes could deduct the tools and instruments of their trade as expenses, but condoms, spiked heels, mini skirts and fishnet stocking are a negligible expense.  
As for becoming eligible for government benefits, as independent contractors, they wouldn't qualify for the majority of programs and benefits offered to ordinary salaried workers.

One of the most important benefits of legalization, would be the de-criminalization of the 'bawdy house.' Hookers could safely use their homes to ply their trade.
But they'd surely be required to get a special business permit and authorities would almost certainly dictate where these businesses could be located. Neighbours would no doubt object to having a whorehouse next door, so residential neighbourhoods would be out. The combo brothel/home would probably be sent to the industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, not a convenient arrangement.

Inevitably, the government would set up whorehouse standards.
Could the children of prostitutes be allowed to stay in such premises? 
Would sheets be required to be changed after each customer? Come to think of it, would sheets be required at all?
Would the whorehouse be subject to standard hours of operation?
Would they be forced to close on statutory holidays like Christmas and Easter?
If whipped cream, edible panties or any other consumable was part of the 'experience,' would the establishment require a restaurant license?

Then there's the requisite safety regulations.
Hookers would certainly be required to provide health certificates and to submit to costly HIV and STD testing on a regular basis.
Of course risky sexual behaviour would be banned by government health authorities. Going bareback would no longer be an option, even if customers paid more. Condoms would be mandatory and perhaps even rubber gloves as well.

Streetwalkers would be liable to additional rules including a special permit that would guarantee them exclusivity on a certain corner- for a price.
Limits on the height of spiked heels that they wear would be imposed as a health measure and they would not be allowed to walk the streets more than two hours without a scheduled break.
At dusk they'd be required to wear a reflective vest for their own safety and that of the drivers.

So as not to block traffic, drivers would be required to park their cars and get out of traffic while negotiating prices with streetwalkers. Hookers leaning into open car windows in the right-of-way would be subject to fines.

When approaching Johns for the first time, the first language of contact would have to be French. Hookers could switch to English after a specific request, but no John could demand to be serviced in English.

Then there would be the competency tests.
There is a certain level of skill required and the province would demand a 'Sex Worker' license, similar to a driver's license.  Candidates would be required to take a course and then answer a multiple choice questionnaire at the licensing bureau.

Cash transactions would be discouraged and hookers would be required to use portable Interact machines which could process credit and debit cards. They'd be required to charge provincial sales tax as well as GST and remit these sums to the government on a monthly basis. On the bright side, the devices would allow hookers to reward loyal clients with 'Air Miles.' Of course prostitutes would have to provide clients with a written receipt for services rendered, with copies kept securely for five years in case of an Revenue Quebec audit.

Undercover government inspectors would be dispatched to make sure that there are no undisclosed cash transactions and that hookers were in possession of the government issued license at all times.

Before engaging in sex, clients would be required to fill out a consent form, swearing that they were free of sexually transmitted diseases and providing a list of their last three sexual partners 'just in case'
Hookers would be required to keep these records on file for up to a year.

A code of ethics and truth in advertising rules would be imposed.
Discreet colour-coded lapel pins, to be worn while working, would indicate whether the prostitute is male, female, transsexual or a transvestite. No "Crying Game" surprises allowed!
Hookers who haven't been 'artificially' enhanced would be allowed to wear a special 'green' pin.
Prostitutes engaged in role-playing would be barred from wearing 'Catholic schoolgirl attire' or sucking on a lollipop, wearing pig-tails or in anyway conveying the image that they are under-aged. They would also be barred from portraying schoolteachers, nurses, policewomen or judges as this would be considered demeaning to the professions. Portraying lawyers and politicians would remain legal. Dominatrices would be barred from using racist German or Russian accents or wearing Nazi regalia. Boot-licking would be banned as unsanitary.

If handcuffs, whips, chains or any other devices of a potentially dangerous nature were to be employed, a safety range officer would be mandatory.  All equipment of this nature would be subject to a yearly safety inspection. Foreign 'objects' that were 'insertable' would be subject to proper sterilization standards.

In the interest of honesty, hookers would be discouraged from lying about studly performance by their clients or exaggerating the size of certain 'equipment.'
At the end of each session the prostitute would be obliged to hand the client a card with the phone number and Internet address of the Quebec Sex Works Licensing Board, just in case he had a complaint. In the case of any such complaint the prostitute would be obliged to put the client's money in trust until such time as the disagreement would be adjudicated. An agency, similar to the Rental Board would be created in anticipation of problems.

I imagine that before long some prostitutes, will find their new found freedom and legitimacy a bit too much to handle.
Some will likely slip back into their old ways and go underground.

Much to the chagrin of law-abiding hookers, these 'pirates,' unencumbered by the legal and financial obligations of legitimacy, will undercut the prices the regular hookers charge.

With no expenses other than a new pimp and no taxes and licensing fees to pay, they will likely make more money and charge less.

"How can we compete with these bandits?" screams the head of the Association of Independent Sex workers of Quebec. "It isn't fair!!!"

The moral of the story--- "Be careful what you wish for!"


  1. Mississauga Guy said...

    Editor, near the top of your article, you mention there would be an obligation to pay taxes.

    This is nothing new. The morality of how one earns one's income has never been a factor with the CRA. Whether your income is through gambling, extortion, being a hitman, prostitution (legal or illegal) or other morally questionable means is not an issue. The CRA doesn't care how you earn your income as long as you pay the appropriate tax based on your income.

    The other points brought up in this article are moot.

  2. Your article is wrong, wrong, wrong. Prostitution should be legalized. You sound a bit here like those sanctimonious temperance league societies that gave the mafia the best gift on earth - prohibition. The Toronto guy.

  3. "I imagine that before long some prostitutes, will find their new found freedom and legitimacy a bit too much to handle."

    I disagree. Jack Layton and the NDP have been whoring themselves for years and they seem to be doing ok.

  4. You should talk to the good folk at Stella for a reality check.

  5. Mississauga Guy said...

    Anon @ 4:43PM yesterday: Good one! Mulcair is even better at it than Layton!

  6. A few thoughts:

    - SUPPLY AND DEMAND: pimps could capitalize on the fact that the cost of doing business legitimately is higher than had been expected and "adjust" (increase) their own profit margins as a result. In a province with $7/day daycare but with scant few spots, I'm willing to bet a lot of us would pay a pretty penny (north of $7/day, at any rate) for someone trustworthy to look after our kids. The gray market/black market sex workers (their managers at least) stand to make some cash... until they're busted for violating any number of byzantine regulations.

    - LUCRATIVE TRANSGRESSIONS: potentially higher incidences of pimps/prostitutes being hit with heavy penalties for (non-criminal but rather) civil, statutory, and regulatory infractions, rather than do hard time behind bars. If the hookers decide it's still more worth it to work for a pimp, make it lucrative for the pimp to genuinely declare all earnings in exchange for a more advantageous tax burden. Alternatively, redefine the pimp's job into being exclusively one of "talent recruitment". It works for placement agencies, doesn't it?

    - REGULATE, without getting in the way too much: a non-negligible number of extra NEW jobs (none of them necessarily current sex workers, although that wouldn't be a hard requirement), just to regulate all facets of the industry, and then some. Plus, nobody does government bloat better than we do!

    - DIVERSIFY: a professional order? Why not? You said there's already a permit. How about professional development/improvement seminars? Specializations too (belly dancing, exotic dancing, pole dancing, weekend experience, porn star experience, LGBT?). It all only sounds crazy until you actually give it some thought. Would you pay less to get a bypass from someone you know isn't a doctor? Alternatively, you could get a haircut or even a massage from just about anyone, but won't their level of skill determine whether you go back?

    - ENCOURAGE A MIDDLE ROAD: the notion of two-tier healthcare is repugnant to some of us because we find it morally wrong that better care should be given to those who can afford it. The person who will "love you long time" as long as it's under the table (double pun intended) might operate outside the law either to escape the restrictive regulations holding back their pursuit of greater lucre or because they are so poor/disadvantaged as to be at the very bottom of the food chain (I'm thinking of human trafficking victims especially) that they can't legally break into the profession even if they wanted to. A parallel welfare-to-work system to properly integrate Eastern European, Latin-American, African, or Asian smuggling victims who genuinely wish to continue in the profession might not be so crazy if we designed it right.

    I also don't dispute the other anonymous commenters in that putting up a structured system that effectively extracts money from working people shouldn't be so antithetical (let alone impossible) to the fair number of pornocrats who are drawn to political capitals like flies to excrement...

    Less is more, but more is morer. Everything old is new again.

  7. Here they are again those awful Mississauga and an awful "apparatus for shit" who are talking in their tent....