Type: Analysis
Pages: 9 | Words: 2462
Reading Time: 11 Minutes

Over many years, prostitution has been regarded as one of the major social problems in society. In many countries, prostitution is illegal, but other countries, especially in Europe and America, have legalized prostitution. Prostitution has become a social problem in many countries in the sense that it has been the major contributing factor to the rapid spread of severe diseases like HIV/AIDS. In addition, prostitution has stimulated the spread of other social crimes in the societies, for instance, a substantial number of young girls have dropped schools and engaged in prostitution as a way of earning income. This is unfortunate because it jeopardizes the lives, health and success of young girls in society. This paper will also provide adequate information to prove how prostitution has been a social problem in Canada, as well as other parts of the globe. Finally, this study will provide a position on the social problem and provide the most appropriate approaches aimed at finding a lasting solution to the social problem.

Social problem

Despite the negative role that prostitution plays in society, some governments have decriminalized prostitution. Decriminalization refers to the legal act of making something that was formerly illegal to be legal or lawful. Some countries like Canada have reviewed the Laws prohibiting prostitution and finally legalized this act. However, sex workers, as well as some human rights activists in Canada feel that some provisions of Criminal Code frustrate their activities, since they cannot engage in their business safely and legally (Smith& Stacie, 2012).

Am interested in the study of prostitution because I have a friend who was once in the prostitution business and she always shared with me the frustrations that sex workers go through. According to her, prostitution is legal theoretically, but in the real sense there are a couple of laws that jeopardize their business and even compromise their safety. Moreover, she shared with me the problems and suffering that sex workers go through in the hands of security officers who always frustrate their activities. Despite prostitution being legal in Canada, many sex workers have been charged with violation of prostitution laws. According to her, legalization of prostitution only benefit few individuals in society such as brothel owners and security officers who get an opportunity to harass sex workers and even taking bribes from them so that they can set them free. She argues that sex workers can only benefit from their business only through decriminalization of prostitution. Another reason that attracted me to this study is because there has been a vast outcry from sex workers and human rights activists who challenge the laws that restrict prostitution which is legal in Canada.

How Prostitution have Developed

Canada is among the few countries that have legalized prostitution, which is mainly exchange of sex with money (Austen, 2012). Prostitution is considered to be a business that helps people to earn their living. Religious groups and Canadians living in rural areas have always opposed to legalization of prostitution because it is perceived as a social immorality in society. Despite prostitution being legalized in Canada, the truth of the matter is that prostitution has many negative impacts and increases immorality in society.

According to sex workers and sex workers’ rights activists, there are some laws that hinder their activities. This is because the Canadian government made prostitution legal under certain strict conditions and this denies sex workers freedom and safety to carry out their activities freely. This has resulted in increased calls for full decriminalization of prostitution. According to sex workers, legalization of prostitution has done nothing much as far as creation of a safe working environment is concerned. This is because legalization is basically a controlled system of sex work implemented by Canadian government, but comprises of many restrictions that prevent sex workers from operating freely (Flowers, 1998). For instance, the Canadian law only required sex workers to operate in designated brothels in specific areas, but not in streets. Therefore, sex workers have been fighting for full decriminalization to allow them carry out their business without being regarded as criminals and harassed by security officers. This includes being given the freedom to communicate with their customers in streets without any interference from the security officers.

Although prostitution is not illegal in Canada, the current Laws enacted by the government make prostitution illegal in many cases. The legality of prostitution became in the limelight after Ontario Superior Court judge deemed the above three Laws unconstitutional. Despite the legalization of prostitution, some groups such as Catholic Civil Rights League, Christian Legal Fellowship among other civil rights groups were of the view that most Canadians supported prohibition of prostitution. Such claims were also supported by Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper in 2010. He was of the view that the court’s decision to disregard some laws restricting prostitution was against the public opinion. However, according to various surveys conducted between 2005 and 2011, there was considerable number of people who supported decriminalization of prostitution with the largest portion being men. The Ontario Court of Appeal claimed that such rules were against the constitution and endangered sex workers by compelling them to carryout their activities on the streets instead of working indoors where their safety is guaranteed (Van Der Meulen &Emily, 2012). In addition, such laws jeopardized the lives of prostitutes in the sense that they were restricted from taking specific precautionary measures, such as hiring of bodyguards.

Laws Restricting Free Prostitution

There are mainly three sections of Criminal Code that compromise the legality of prostitution in Canada. Firstly, sex workers have heavily challenged Section 210 of the Canadian Criminal Code, which is commonly known as bawdyhouse law (Gajewski, 2012). This law prohibits sex workers to carryout their activities in their homes or in familiar locations. Bawdyhouse can be described as a place that is used for prostitution. This law prevents from sex workers to carryout their businesses in their own homes, and this is considered as an enterprise crime. In case a sex worker is caught carrying out prostitution in her own home, she is charged, and the government might also seize all the assets of the person charged. Sex workers challenge this law because it denies them freedom and safety in their own homes or places of work. This has jeopardized the sex work business, and many feel that legalization of prostitution in Canada is just theoretical, but in the real sense it is not legal. This has been the main reason that has contributed to increased calls for full decriminalization. This is because the strict regulation enacted by Canadian government makes their business illegal, since they cannot even enjoy safety in their homes or working places.

In other words, despite prostitution’s being legal, prostitutes are still treated like criminals. For instance, in cases where sex workers report bad clients to the police, there is always a possibility that sex workers will be investigated and charged. This has created an ample chance through which bad clients take advantage. This eliminates the need and sense of legalizing prostitution because sex workers are not guaranteed freedom to carryout their business.

Secondly, Section 212(j) of Procuring Law hinders the legality of prostitution in Canada. This law prohibits any person to live with a prostitute. In other words, this section of Procuring Law does not protect the welfare of the sex workers; instead, it criminalizes all the daily, as well as healthy relationships of the sex workers (Morton & Heather, 2012). This is because it is illegal for sex workers to live with a roommate or have any other kind of relationships, even a spouse. In addition, this law has been a major obstacle because it even prevents sex workers from having important support staff like drivers or receptionists, as well as executing other security measures. This section of the Law also eliminates the sense of legalizing prostitution, since it still denies sex workers freedom to operate freely. Equally, this has also been a major reason that has made sex workers fight for full decriminalization of prostitution.

The third Law that hinders the legality of prostitution in Canada is Section 213(1) (c), commonly referred to as Communicating Law. This law prevents sex workers from interacting with their potential clients on the streets. This Law was enacted in December 20 1985, and it prohibits any form of communication for the purpose of prostitution in any public places, such as streets or any other places open to public view (Lowman & Louie, 2012). This prevents sex workers from stopping or attempting to stop any individual, communicating or attempting to communicate to any individual for the purpose of prostitution in public places. This has been a major obstacle to the prostitution because sex workers are unable to negotiate with their potential customers for fear of being spotted by security officers and being charged.

Social Location

I feel connected to this social problem not only because I have a friend who have experienced the suffering subjected to sex workers. Instead, I feel connected to this social problem because I have witnessed other people very close to me going through the same struggle in the society. Cases of sex workers being harassed by security officers and also being charged with violation of prostitution rights have dominated news in the media. Some of the people who have been subjected to such suffering are very close to me, and I really feel this social problem is of great concern to me because most of them have joined prostitution a means of getting their daily bread due to increased poverty contributed by lack of employment. They end up being sexually abused and also become drug addicts, thus I feel connected to this problem since the lives of people very close to me have been ruined.

Social Work Approach

With regard to sex workers, there are different view points among people in the society; there are people who support prostitution and those who oppose. People who are opposed to prostitution believe that women’s body should not be used as a commodity for men’s pleasure or for commercial gains. On the other hand, People who support prostitution view this social problem just as a normal social work, and they believe that women have the right to utilize their body to earn income. As a result, there has been increased pressure to decriminalize prostitution.

The need to Decriminalize Prostitution

According to sex worker, since Canada has already made prostitution legal in their country, social workers feel that the three laws that restrict sex workers from carrying out their activities freely should be eliminated. This is because they only endanger the lives of sex workers, since they are denied a chance to perform their work in a safe environment like their own homes or places of work. Moreover, the laws enacted by Canadian government to control prostitution only benefit the owners of brothels because the law requires sex workers to carryout their business only in specific brothels and other designated places. Therefore, such laws deny sex workers to get a better pay, since brothel owners get about 50% of the earnings that are generated from sex workers. In addition, brothel owners charge unrealistic prices on necessities required in sex work, for instance, lube laundry services, condoms, food among others. Unfortunately, Canadian government obtains money from prostitution business by charging very high rates on licences and also take regular income tax. As a matter of fact, this is unfair to the sex workers, since they also deserve equal and fair treatment as far as the payment of tax is concerned. Therefore, decriminalization will play a vital role in eliminating such problems.

Decriminalization of prostitution is vital because it perceives sex work as a lawful work, and also annuls the regulations against adult sex workers, regardless of whether the prostitution work is private or commercial. Decriminalization of prostitution has worked in countries like Australia and New Zealand (Roleff, 2006). In these nations, sex workers are not required to pay unrealistic prices on licences, and prostitutes can carryout doing their work without fear of criminal charges. The cost of licences in such countries is equal to those of other forms of businesses. Therefore, decriminalization plays a vital role in helping the sex workers to work freely.

In addition, sex workers believe that with decriminalization, sex workers will gain a better jurisdiction with regards to their work, and they will be in a position to work freely as individuals, members of a group or for a brothel. This is because the current system regards prostitutes as criminals and even some of them have been charged and their names were included in criminal records. This is unfair because sex workers in Canada are engaging in lawful businesses.

Decriminalization of prostitution will not only ensure that sex work is legitimate, but it will help in eliminating the historical mentality of regarding sex workers as diseased, disposable and hopeless people. In countries like Canada, where prostitution is legal, there is a need to eliminate the stigma associated with sex workers, since they are normal human beings seeking for their daily bread. They should be treated with dignity.

Personal Growth

As a result of awareness that I have gained from the prostitution business, I feel that something must be done to address this problem. It is unfortunate that sex workers face very many problems in their work including sexual harassment while prostitution is legal in Canada. As a result, there is urgent need to apply positive approaches to discourage sex workers from prostitution other than unnecessary stigma. This is because most of the sex workers have opted for engaging in prostitution due to poverty contributed by various factors in society. For instance, lack of employment has been a major contributing factor that has made sex worker engages in that business to improve their wellbeing.

As I grow up my main challenge will be to discourage prostitution creating awareness on sex worker, and help them identify other opportunities that can generate income. Through this initiative, I will be able to ensure that sex workers shun their business and adapt normal life free from oppression, drug addiction and sexual harassment. This will be imperative because sex workers are also normal human being, and require equal opportunities in the society.


The Canadian government and other federal governments should look at the best approaches that can be established to address the problem of prostitution, for instance, creation of job opportunities and provision of affordable education. This will be imperative because prostitution result in many social problems in society. For instance, prostitution has contributed to the rapid increase in the spread of HIV/AIDS, and this becomes a burden to the government as far as provision of health care and medication are concerned. Also, dependency ratio increases, thus, reducing the rate of economic growth since a lot of funds are used in caring for the affected at the expense of other development projects.

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