In interviews with the, sex workers in five cities across Canada, all contacted through a popular sexual services website and identified here by their work names, said uncertainty over the new regulations has pushed some clients away and made business harder for them in other ways.
“What’s changed is that we’re not getting new customers,” says “Nicole,” 39, who sells sex from her apartment in Toronto.
“I used to make quite a bit of money, less now because I think a lot of clients are afraid to call us.” , or just Bill C-36, was the Conservative government’s response to Supreme Court’s ruling in the “Bedford” case.
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“I’m not hurting anybody.” In the last several months, though, Raven, 33, has noticed small changes cropping up in her industry.
From Halifax to Victoria and everywhere in between, sex is still being bought and sold in Canada, according to sex workers, police departments, researchers, and common sense.
But that doesn’t mean the industry itself hasn’t shifted in response to the laws.
More importantly, it doesn’t mean the problems that prompted the legal change in the first place have gone away.
The court suspended that ruling for 12 months, however, giving the federal government time to craft a new set of, in some ways, even more restrictive laws around sex work.
Bill C-36, for the first time in Canada, explicitly outlawed the buying, but not the selling of sex.
It also gave police new powers to prosecute those who advertise sex work and those who exploit or otherwise make money off sex workers in all but a few limited cases.
“Raven” sells herself online as “classy, genuine and discreet.” She takes “donations” for her time: 0 for 30 minutes or 0 for a full hour. Online posts — once quite explicit — are slipping into euphemism.
She can be a “sweet innocent girl,” she wrote in a recent posting, “or the one to fulfill all your fantasies.” But if you don’t like tattoos, she added, she’s not the one for you. “Everything has a to be a lot more quiet now and underground,” she says.