International Conference on Prostitution and Other Sex Work

Université du Québec a Montréal,
September 27-29, 1996

Check out the report on "When Sex Works" from the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver.

participant kit

Technical note #III
The evaluation of the communicating law (Bill C-49): some key findings

  • The Bill enacted in December 1985 had three objectives: (1) to diminish the level of street prostitution; (2) to treat customers and prostitutes alike; and (3) to facilitate enforcement.

  • Overall, it may be said that the law created a more repressive environment, the number of charges increasing dramatically over the two year period and keeping relatively stable since.

  • Prostitutes have a slightly higher tendency to be charged than customers, guilty pleas are entered equally by both groups, and fines given to prostitutes are on average slightly higher than those given to customers.

  • Female prostitutes are charged more frequently than are male prostitutes.

  • On average, female prostitutes will be charged almost twice a year, male prostitutes less than half a time per year.

  • Few customers are recidivists; in fact, the vast majority are charged only once.

  • The numbers of prostitutes ahve not significantly diminished in the two year period between implementation and reports of the evaluation site studies, nor have their characteristics changed.

  • However, there have been significant spatial and modal changes: prostitutes have moved away from the traditional strolls into other areas, in many cases poorer residential neighbourhoods. Their methods of operation have become less visible and aggressive, more subtle, more discreet, yet -- and maybe therefore -- less protective for themselves.

  • Overall, the law had a low impact on the attainment of these objectives, except for relative ease of application. Even then, police have had to develop costly and time-consuming undercover investigation practices.


Fleischman, J., (1989) The Evaluation of the Street Prostitution Legislation: A Summary of Research Findings. Ottawa: Department of Justice.

Gemme, R. and Nicole Payment, (1992) "Criminalization of Adult Street Prostitution in Montreal: Evaluation of the Law in 1987 and 1991." The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, vol. 1, no. 4.

When Sex Works... [Rights Groups]

Created: November 23, 1996
Last modified: September 26, 1997

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