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SOSC 2652 readings

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York University
Social Science
SOSC 2652
Anna Pratt

CRIM 2652 - Lecture 5 Readings The Limits of the Law: A critical examination of prostitution control in three Canadian cities By: Nick Larsen - Prostitution represents one of the more problematic & frustrating socio – legal dilemmas confronting contemporary democratic societies - Important aspect of this dilemma: contradiction between the liberal notion that prostitution is a victimless crime which ought to be tolerated & the moral disapproval expressed by conservative & religious forces - This is complicated by feminist groups who argue that prostitution represents the ultimate expression of patriarchal relations – not all feminist groups advocate the same legal approach but their involvement cuts across the liberal – conservative debate & helps ensure that clear cut solutions are rarely implemented - Contemporary western societies have frequently adopted compromise positions – selected aspects of prostitution are prohibited by relatively minor criminal laws but prostitution itself is neither criminal nor fully legal - This unclear status leaves participants trapped in an uncertain existence – their activities are tolerated much of them time but are nevertheless constantly vulnerable to police crackdowns & political manipulation - situation becomes particularly problematic in the case of street prostitution - it frequently involves public order concerns of considerable magnitude - In most large NorthAmerican cities, street prostitution is concentrated in business and residential areas near the city centre, which makes the trade accessible to visitors. - It also creates conflict with the people who live and work in these areas, and it is this conflict which creates the dilemma for police forces - Since most street prostitution activities are legally classified as minor offenses, the police are limited in terms of both the priority which they can assign to prostitution control and their ability to deal effectively with street prostitution. - Recent changes to Canadian laws on prostitution – popularly known as Bill C – 49 which was enacted in 1985 was largely a result of public & police dissatisfaction with the previous law - Because this bill represents one of the toughest approaches to prostitution in North America – its provisions are controversial & the law has been subjected to evaluations of its effectiveness - Almost all of these evaluations have concluded that the new law has not been effective as its two primary aims of reducing the overall numbers of prostitutes & controlling the levels of nuisance associated with street prostitution - The new law has been only marginally successful at its third goal – ensuring equal enforcement against male customer & female prostitutes - Relative ineffectiveness of Bill C – 49 has renewed prostitution debate in Canada & many groups are demanding tougher provisions to deal with street prostitution - Several researchers have argued that it is possible to control prostitution effectively without resorting to unduly harsh laws Background – Events precipitating Bill C-49 - Prior to 1985, street prostitution in Canada was covered primarily by section 195.1 of the Canadian Criminal Code which prohibited “soliciting for the purposes of prostitution” - This law was considered satisfactory by most police officers & politicians but there were several anomalies that were problematic from a feminist perspective ex. some courts limited the definition of prostitute to females only & so male prostitutes could not be convicted under this section
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