Obiter Dicta Issue 8 - January 6, 2014

Vol 86 Issue 8 The Definitive Source for Osgoode News January 6, 2014 TERRI-JEAN BEDFORD MAKES THE VICTORY SIGN AFTER HEARING OF THE SUPREME COURT’S DECEMBER 20 JUDGMENT IN HER FAVOUR. Many missing voices in Bedford commentary SEAN AHERNE-BIESBROEK Contributor On December 20th the Supreme Court of Canada released the Bedford decision, striking down Canada’s prostitution laws as unconstitutional, suspending the decision for one year. As an interested law student, I shadowed a member of one of the intervenors in the case, the Asian Women’s Coalition Ending Prostitution (“AW”), at the media scrum on the day the decision was handed down. AW is a group from British Columbia concerned for the safety and rights of Asian women in Canada, and was compelled to intervene in the case. There is disproportionate representation of Asian women in the sex industry that is highly visible in Vancouver. AW expressed concern that Asian women are especially vulnerable to the sex industry due to factors such as trafficking, poverty, language barriers and racism. Furthermore, the group made it clear that racialization in sex industry advertising reinforces racial stereotypes of Asian women (for instance, the submissive Chi- nese doll stereotype). In light of these concerns, the group approached the case with a nuanced legal position. They argued the Supreme Court should consider the sex industry through the lens of gender and racial equality, given that equality is a key value of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They ultimately advised applying Canada’s prostitution laws to johns and pimps but not prostitutes. The position was also shared by another intervenor, the Women’s Coalition for Abolition (a coalition that included groups such as the Canadian Association of Elisabeth Fry Societies and the Native Women’s Association of Canada). “Prostitution should not be fully legalized, nor fully criminalized because it would only exacerbate the equality issues Asian women and other women of colour face – that is why we proposed this third option,” I was told by Sarah Mah, of AW. As a Vancouverite myself, I am convinced the disproportionate representation of women of colour in the sex industry is common knowl- edge. The racial stereotypes of Asian women in the sex trade have been the topic of jokes in my conversations with others in Vancouver. Asian Women backs their analysis of race and racial » continued on page 15 In this issue... Explaining the curve page 3 McMurtry Fellow David Lepofsky page 4 New Year’s resolutions pages 11 and 12 What makes the Western Conference better? page 14