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Red Light Labour: Sex Work Regulation, Agency, and Resistance

Red Light Labour: Sex Work Regulation, Agency, and Resistance




Department of Criminology


Department of Criminology


Edited by Elya M. Durisin, Emily van der Meulen, and Chris Bruckert

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 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.

See below for the Table of Contents.

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By Valerie Scott   

Introduction - Chapter 1
Contextualizing Sex Work: Challenging Discourses and Confronting Narratives
By Elya M. Durisin, Emily van der Meulen, and Chris Bruckert

Law and Policy Contexts: The State and Beyond

Chapter 2
Sex Work Policy: Tracing Historical and Contemporary Developments
By Emily van der Meulen and Elya M. Durisin

Chapter 3
Bedford v. Canada: A Breakthrough in the Legal Discourse
By Brenda Belak

Chapter 4
Municipal Regulation of Street-Based Prostitution and the Impacts on Indigenous Women: A Necessary Discussion
By Naomi Sayers

Chapter 5
From Average Joe to Deviant John: The Changing Construction of Sex Trade Clients in Canada
By Ummni Khan

Chapter 6
Pimps, Partners, and Procurers: Criminalizing Street-Based Sex Workers’ Relationships with Partners and Third Parties
By Kara Gillies and Chris Bruckert

Chapter 7

New Risks Spaces, New Spaces for Harm: The Effects of the Advertising Offence on Independent Escorts
By Andrea Sterling

Chapter 8
Misrepresentations, Inadequate Evidence, and Impediments to Justice: Human Rights Impacts of Canada’s Anti-Trafficking Efforts
By Tamara O’Doherty, Hayli Millar, Alison Clancey, and Kimberly Mackenzie

Chapter 9
Perceptions of Sex Work: Exploring the Narratives of Police and Regulatory Officials
By Frances M. Shaver, John Bryans, and Isabelle Bhola

Chapter 10
Protecting Victims Sexually Exploited Through Prostitution? Critically Examining Youth Legal and Policy Regimes
By Steven Bittle

Diverse Experiences: Examining Places, Spaces, and Types of Work

Chapter 11
Indigenous, Indoors, and Incognito: Thoughts and Experiences of an Irish and Ojibwe Sex Worker
By Elizabeth James

Chapter 12
Myths and Realities of Male Sex Work: A Personal Perspective
By River Redwood

Chapter 13
Champagne, Strawberries, and Truck Stop Motels: On Subjectivity and Sex Work
By Victoria Love

Chapter 14
“The Paradox?!”: Racialized and Indigenous Sex Workers’ Encounters Within a Capitalist Market
By Menaka Raguparan

Chapter 15
Double Punishment: Immigration Penality and Migrant Trans Women Who Sell Sex
By Nora Butler Burke

Chapter 16
“Harassing the Clients is Exactly the Same as Harassing the Workers”: Street-based Sex Workers in Vancouver
By Andrea Krüsi, Brenda Belak, and Sex Workers United Against Violence

Chapter 17
Everybody Knows Everybody: Sex Work in Rural and Small Communities
By Stacey Hannem

Chapter 18
Hypocrisy in “Sin City”: Space, Place, and Sex Work Stigma in St. John’s, NL
By Laura Winters and Gayle MacDonald

Sex Workers’ Resistance: Building Alliances and Subverting Narratives

Chapter 19
Canadian Feminism and Sex Work Law: A Cautionary Tale
By Mariana Valverde

Chapter 20
Whorganizers and Gay Activists: Histories of Convergence, Contemporary Currents of Divergence, and the Promise of Non-Normative Futures
By Becki Ross

Chapter 21
Fighting for Homewood: Gentrification and the History of Violent Struggle Over Trans Sex Work Strolls in Canada
By Morgan M. Page

Chapter 22
Do Black Sex Workers’ Lives Matter? Whitewashed Anti-Slavery, Racial Justice, and Abolition
By Robyn Maynard

Chapter 23
Migrant Sex Worker Justice: Building Alliances Across Movements
By Elene Lam and Chanelle Gallant

Chapter 24
Will the Real Supporters of Workers’ Rights Please Stand Up? Union Engagement with Sex Work in Canada
By Jenn Clamen and Kara Gillies

Chapter 25
Sex, Lies, and Committee Hearings: Challenging Prostitution Propaganda
By Kerry Porth

Chapter 26
Action, Advocacy, and Allies: Building a Movement for Sex Worker Rights
By Sarah Beer

By John Lowman and Frances M. Shaver



Edited by Elya M. Durisin, Emily van der Meulen, and Chris Bruckert