Former madam urges against legalizing brothels

Former madam Tania Fiolleau in Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday June 13, 2013



TORONTO -- A former madam warns that organized crime -- not sex trade workers -- will reap the benefits if Canada's Supreme Court legalizes 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 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.

Valerie Scott, a sex worker advocate and 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.

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