In 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled unanimously that key Criminal Code provisions relating to sex work were unconstitutional. Canada v. Bedford gave Parliament one year to update the laws. The landmark decision provoked renewed interest from researchers, policy makers, news outlets, and the public but little new insight into sex work.
Red Light Labour addresses Canada’s new legal regime regulating sex work with an advanced analysis of past and present policy approaches, and considers the ways in which laws and those who uphold them have constructed, controlled, and criminalized sex workers, their workspaces, colleagues, and clients. This groundbreaking collection also offers nuanced interpretations of various forms of commercial sexual labour that foreground the personal perspectives of workers and activists. The contributors highlight sex workers’ struggles for civic and social inclusion by considering their tactics, successes, and challenges as they work collaboratively and build alliances with diverse social movements.
Red Light Labour advocates for social and economic justice within a sex-work-as-labour framework. This book is a timely intervention that showcases up-to-date legal, policy, and social analysis of sex work in Canada.
Red Light Labour will be of interest to scholars and students of labour, sexuality and gender, socio-legal contexts, and criminology. It will also find an audience among advocates, policy makers, and researchers in areas related to sex, gender, labour, and human trafficking, as well as with the general public.
A thorough collection, it challenges misconceptions and educates readers on many topics, including sex work in rural and small communities, the experience of Indigenous workers, and union engagement with sex work in Canada.
This book will put to rest any misconceptions that sex workers do not have the capacity to make their own choices. It documents the harms that shame-based laws can cause as well as sex workers’ efforts to resist and challenge the anti-prostitution regime that has developed in Canada.
Red Light Labour is a captivating and informative read that makes an extremely timely and important contribution to studies of sex work in the Canadian context, with attention paid to a broad range of topics, including the legal context, personal experiences of sex workers, and the sex worker rights movement. I strongly recommend it.
Foreword / Valerie Scott
1 Contextualizing Sex Work: Challenging Discourses and Confronting Narratives / Elya M. Durisin, Emily van der Meulen, and Chris Bruckert
Part 1 – Law and Policy Contexts: The State and Beyond
2 Sex Work Policy: Tracing Historical and Contemporary Developments / Emily van der Meulen and Elya M. Durisin
3 Bedford v. Canada: A Breakthrough in the Legal Discourse / Brenda Belak
4 Municipal Regulation of Street-Based Prostitution and the Impacts on Indigenous Women: A Necessary Discussion / Naomi Sayers
5 From Average Joe to Deviant John: The Changing Construction of Sex Trade Clients in Canada / Ummni Khan
6 Pimps, Partners, and Procurers: Criminalizing Street-Based Sex Workers’ Relationships with Partners and Third Parties / Kara Gillies and Chris Bruckert
7 New Risk-Spaces, New Spaces for Harm: The Effects of the Advertising Offence on Independent Escorts / Andrea Sterling
8 Misrepresentations, Inadequate Evidence, and Impediments to Justice: Human Rights Impacts of Canada’s Anti-Trafficking Efforts / Tamara O’Doherty, Hayli Millar, Alison Clancey, and Kimberly Mackenzie
9 Perceptions of Sex Work: Exploring the Narratives of Police and Regulatory Officials / Frances M. Shaver, John Bryans, and Isabelle Bhola
10 Protecting Victims Sexually Exploited through Prostitution? Critically Examining Youth Legal and Policy Regimes / Steven Bittle
Part 2 – Diverse Experiences: Examining Places, Spaces, and Types of Work
11 Indigenous, Indoors, and Incognito: Thoughts and Experiences of an Irish and Ojibwe Sex Worker / Elizabeth James
12 Myths and Realities of Male Sex Work: A Personal Perspective / River Redwood
13 Champagne, Strawberries, and Truck-Stop Motels: On Subjectivity and Sex Work / Victoria Love
14 “The Paradox?!”: Racialized and Indigenous Sex Workers’ Encounters within a Capitalist Market / Menaka Raguparan
15 Double Punishment: Immigration Penality and Migrant Trans Women Who Sell Sex / Nora Butler Burke
16 “Harassing the Clients Is Exactly the Same as Harassing the Workers”: Street-Based Sex Workers in Vancouver / Andrea Krüsi, Brenda Belak, and Sex Workers United Against Violence
17 Everybody Knows Everybody: Sex Work in Rural and Small Communities / Stacey Hannem
18 Hypocrisy in “Sin City”: Space, Place, and Sex Work Stigma in St. John’s / Laura Winters and Gayle MacDonald
Part 3 – Sex Workers’ Resistance: Building Alliances and Subverting Narratives
19 Canadian Feminism and Sex Work Law: A Cautionary Tale / Mariana Valverde
20 Whorganizers and Gay Activists: Histories of Convergence, Contemporary Currents of Divergence, and the Promise of Non-Normative Futures / Becki L. Ross
21 Fighting for Homewood: Gentrification and the History of Violent Struggle over Trans Sex Workers’ Strolls in Canada / Morgan M. Page
22 Do Black Sex Workers’ Lives Matter? Whitewashed Anti-Slavery, Racial Justice, and Abolition / Robyn Maynard
23 Migrant Sex Workers’ Justice: Building Alliances across Movements / Elene Lam and Chanelle Gallant
24 Will the Real Supporters of Workers’ Rights Please Stand Up? Union Engagement with Sex Work in Canada / Jenn Clamen and Kara Gillies
25 Sex, Lies, and Committee Hearings: Challenging Prostitution Propaganda / Kerry Porth
26 Action, Advocacy, and Allies: Building a Movement for Sex Worker Rights / Sarah Beer
Afterword / John Lowman and Frances M. Shaver
Appendix: Prostitution-Related Criminal Code ProvisionsIndex
Experience, Advocacy, and Research on Sex Work in Canada
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