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Cherry Smiley, middle right, of Vancouver, B. TORONTO -- The Harper government's proposed crackdown on johns and pimps would leave prostitutes just as open to violence as under the old sex laws struck down by Supreme Court of Canada, sex workers and their supporters said Saturday.
In what was billed as a national day of action, rallies against the government's new prostitution legislation were planned in several cities across the country. Dozens of demonstrators gathered around red umbrellas -- the sex trade's symbol of independence -- in a downtown Toronto park to speak out against the proposed law, which would criminalize the purchase of sexual services, target those who benefit from prostitution and outlaw the sale of sex near schools and other places where children gather.
She said that, with the bill, the Conservatives are "spitting in the face" of the Supreme Court's landmark prostitution decision and ignoring the vital input of sex workers. The legislation would also make illegal the sale of sex through print media or the Internet, and ban communicating for the purpose of selling sexual services in public places where a child could reasonably be expected to be present.
Additionally, it would criminalize financially benefiting from the prostitution of others, including through online sex businesses or venues such as escort agencies and massage parlours.
Monica Forrester, who works as a prostitute, said the proposed bundle of new offences would continue to leave those in the sex trade exposed to violence -- a key factor in the top court's ruling.