Women 's Legislative History Of Prostitution

2971 Words Oct 17th, 2014 12 Pages
Legislative History of Prostitution in Canada Pre-1867-2014

Overview Prostitution has been a social issue in Canada since before Confederation and until present day. The act of exchanging sexual services for money between two consenting adults has never been illegal in Canada, but the activities that surround prostitution, particularly owning or being in a bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution, and communicating in public places for the purposes of prostitution, have all been made illegal under sections in the Criminal Code (Prostitution, n.d.). Throughout history, there has been great debate about the social harms caused by prostitution versus the individual rights of prostitutes. Prior to the creation and implementation of
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These laws were significant for various reasons. Firstly, during this time period, women and children were seen as the property of their husbands and fathers and therefore were not provided legal or social protections against violence. Due to this, women who were prostitutes experienced extreme violence in the hands of their handlers and clients and had no opportunity to report this violence to authorities. Secondly, during this time period men were seen as beings that were unable to control their desires and needed to be satisfied by women. Under this mindset, men who did not have wives required the services of prostitutes in order to meet their needs. Because of this, vagrancy laws were sporadically enforced. Coastal cities and towns were places that prostitutes could work and not be punished because sailors and other traders that utilized the ports needed their services. In comparison, places considered of “higher status” where elite populations lived needed to be protected from the evils of prostitution and therefore vagrancy laws were strictly enforced in these areas. In the years leading up to the 20th century, views of men and women began to shift and this had a significant impact on laws governing prostitution (Prostitution, n.d.).

Social Purity Movement, late 19th century-early 20th century The Social Purity Movement began in the late 19th century and lasted until approximately

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