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This copy is for your personal non-commercial use only. Crusading clergyman.
Moralizing political regimes. Undercover police stings. Each Women in Jarvis failed to drive prostitutes out of Toronto's unofficial red-light district. Yet on a recent Wednesday night, only two women are working the Jarvis St. In the past fours years, the dozens of women in knee-high boots and thick faux-fur coats shuffling in six-inch stilettos around these downtown streets have moved elsewhere. Some have relocated to the suburbs. Others have taken mainstream jobs. And many have moved inside, soliciting clients through the Internet and classified sections of free weekly newspapers.
Hard hats replaced miniskirts and fishnets as city crews began ripping up the sidewalks. By August, construction was tearing apart Church St. Ebony prefers working outdoors. She works alone and gets to keep all the cash she earns. The construction should be finished by next spring. Coincidentally, it's also around that time that a ruling is expected in a landmark constitutional challenge, being argued in Superior Court this month.
Law professor Alan Young, with three former and current prostitutes, has asked a judge to strike down three provisions in the Criminal Code. The act of selling sex for money is legal, but everything surrounding that business transaction isn't. The three provisions Young wants dissolved are soliciting in a public place, working out of a brothel which could be a sex worker's own bedroom and living off the avails of prostitution. If the judge agrees, prostitution would essentially be decriminalized. Most high-end workers are expected to then move their business inside, which may mean the end of Toronto's red-light district.
Currently, penalties associated with street-level prostitution are ificantly lighter than those for indoor sex work. If successful, says Young, the Crown will almost certainly appeal.
If they win again, it will be up to politicians to decide how to rewrite the laws — whether to regulate the industry or ban prostitution outright. Valerie Scott, an applicant in the case, said the current laws put the workers on Jarvis in danger. People just don't know it. Street prostitution in Toronto has generally been concentrated in the east downtown core. Transgendered prostitutes work in "Trannytown," southeast of Jarvis and Wellesley Sts.
Crack-addicted sex workers can be found along River, Shuter and Sherbourne Sts. Christopher Higgins recently led a John sweep on the Danforth that left 70 men facing charges.
Most of the women who work the streets there are addicts, he said. Jarvis is one of the few areas in the city where higher-end prostitutes work outdoors.
They put an ad in classified sections or on Craigslist. In an affidavit submitted to the Superior Court, Insp. Howie warned changing the laws would increase the of brothels, he says. Julia Vanderheul, who does sex worker outreach with the Bad Date Coalition, thinks it might end the Jarvis strip. They do think it's safer inside. Johns will pay a few hundred for an hour with her in a local hotel room. Even Ebony doesn't plan to work the Jarvis strip much longer.
She's saving to go to school and has plans to open her own spa. Copyright owned or d by Toronto Star Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved. To order copies of Toronto Star articles, please go to: www. The reason is surprisingly practical — roadwork. This is a pivotal time for the country's sex industry. Report an error. Journalistic Standards. About The Star. More News. Top Stories.
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End of the Jarvis stroll? Sex workers 'think it's safer inside'