Sunday, June 16, 2013
Former madam warns against legalizing brothels
Tania Fiolleau, a Vancouver-based former madam turned TV talk show host and activist, said she is concerned about the potential ramifications of legalizing brothels.
Canada’s top court finished a week of appeal hearings Friday which could result in a dramatic change to the country’s prostitution laws.
At issue is the constitutionality of three sections of the Criminal Code that ban brothels and deal with living off the avails of prostitution and soliciting. “(Crime syndicates) would rather have legalized brothels that are fronts,” Fiolleau said. “That’s what they like to do. It’s going to bring more crime into it because it’s a cash business.”
Fiolleau said in her experience, legalization will only increase the risk faced by prostitutes.
“They say the women can get tested (for sexually transmitted diseases) more regularly but the john doesn’t get tested,” she added. “Her tests come back clean then she has (unprotected sex) with a dirty trick and her tests are null and void.”
Fiolleau, host of Tania’s Truth Talk on Joy TV, said when she was involved in the business, her brothel was backed by the Russian mafia. The Asian and biker gangs are also heavily involved, she said.
Fiolleau is calling for the government to impose tougher laws, like those in Sweden, where strict penalties for Johns caught buying sex resulted in a dramatic decrease in prostitution.
“We have been pushing for that for years,” she said.
But Valerie Scott, a sex worker advocate, countered Fiolleau’s assertions are wrong. Scott, one of three women who brought forward the case which has lead to the Supreme Court appeal, said moving prostitution out of the shadows benefits everyone.
“When it’s brought above ground and into the light it makes it far more difficult for organized crime to operate,” she said.
Scott said studies have been done focusing on sex workers and sexually transmitted diseases. Sex workers practice safe sex because they have no emotional attachment to johns and don’t fear losing them.
“We can get guys to use condoms,” she said. “We’re not in love with them. Love is the biggest risk factors for STI.”
Scott said she is happy with how the arguments unfolded in court last week and anticipates it could take up to a year before a decision comes down.
“We’d rather they take their time and get it right,” she said.
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