You may have seen the recent media coverage regarding adult entertainment establishments and of The Supreme Court of Canada ruling legalizing prostitution. I attended a meeting held by the Adult Entertainment Association of Canada (AEAC) where they presented, what I believe, is an acceptable alternative to this sensitive issue. For the record, I do not support nor agree with prostitution and I am displeased with the position that the Supreme Court ruling has put us in. I do however acknowledge that there needs to be drastic measure taken to eliminate the current illegal brothels being run out of illicit massage parlours in our community, of which there are hundreds. Currently in the City of Toronto there are thousands of illicit massage parlours offering sexual services illegally. Adult entertainment establishments (strip joints) are law abiding businesses that operate under by-laws set out by the City of Toronto. If they break these by-laws they stand to lose their licenses and ability to operate their businesses. These establishments require the dancers to have a license, so each employee is registered with the City of Toronto – similar to a license obtained by mechanics.
This allows for complaints to be logged and investigated by by-law officers when needed. The illegal establishments have no avenue for monitoring or assisting patrons or employees. In other words, if women are in danger in the illegal massage parlours they have no protection against mistreatment. Dancers in the adult entertainment establishments are given options if they feel endangered, the establishments themselves are subject to onsite visits by authorities. Another thing to consider is the safety of the women who choose to engage in prostitution. Because there are no laws to protect these women many suffer brutal treatment at the hands of their clients and pimps and this lack of regulation makes it easier for women of all ages to be trafficked.
Taking all of this into account, the AEAC has suggested allowing strip club owners to receive licenses for operating brothels under their already existing rules. To be clear, they would not be allowed to turn existing “strip joints” into a brothel. It would have to be a separate building/entrance and separate business. This would allow authorities to monitor activities and any complaints versus having the already illegal establishments provide the service.
The AEAC has had years of experience in keeping their employees safe. It would make sense that they could handle issues of employee safety when it comes to brothels. Some safety measures might include a panic button or a security guard, who could now legally provide protection without worry. With the proper regulations Canada will be less appealing to traffickers.
I believe our best option under these circumstances is to allow the entertainment establishments the ability to also open up brothels. Over the last number of years I have been instrumental in reducing the number of establishments conducting in illicit activity and have succeeded in eliminating the only two adult entertainment establishments that did exist in our ward. I believe that supporting the AEAC’s recommendation will be a large step towards removing all illicit establishments in our community.
The alternative to this solution is that brothels will open up in homes, near schools and churches and around our children. Let’s keep our children and homes safe and secure from these activities and the behaviour that comes with prostitution and let’s make sure those who choose this profession are protected from exploitation.