Home Canada Nova Scotia sex worker takes client to small claims court over unpaid fee

Nova Scotia sex worker takes client to small claims court over unpaid fee

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Brogan Sheehan’s small claims lawsuit over non-payment against a client could have a significant impact on prostitution laws across the country.DARREN CALABRESE/globe and mail

A sex worker in Halifax said her supporters said it was the first time a case of its kind had been tested in a Canadian court, highlighting the need to decriminalize sex work in the country. increase.

On Jan. 26, 2022, Brogan Sheehan drove an Uber to a luxury mansion in downtown Halifax to provide companionship services to a man named Bradley Samuelson, according to court documents filed in Nova Scotia small claims court. . Sheehan said he offers sexual services for $300 an hour. Mr. Samuelson paid her security deposit when she arrived and the rest when their time together was over.

“I was providing a service. said to

“This is theft of service.”

Seven hours after Sheehan arrived, Samuelson gave her a bank card to withdraw money from her account, but the card did not work for her. In a text message to her, he claimed she used her PIN incorrectly and froze her account. Later that day, after numerous back and forth emails, Mr. Samuelson finally paid her $300, leaving the rest to her $1,800.

In his defense statement, Samuelson argues that the contract for sexual services is illegal and therefore unenforceable. Alternatively, if the court finds the contract legal, Samuelson said it would argue that the services Sheehan agreed to were not performed. The Globe did not respond to Samuelson’s attorney for comment.

The case will be heard in Nova Scotia Small Claims Court in Halifax on February 2 before judge Darrell Pink.

Canada’s sex trade laws are not clear. Purchasing sexual services is illegal. However, sex workers cannot be held criminally responsible for selling their sexual services. Bill C-36, the Communities and Exploited Persons Protection Act, was enacted under the Conservative government in October 2014. It was intended to protect those who sell their own sexual services, prevent child trafficking, and reduce the demand for prostitution.

But Sheehan’s lawyers and others who advocate sex work decriminalization say sex workers are criminals who need to be prosecuted and held accountable in the criminal justice system, or victims who need to be protected by criminal law. He said he was treated unfairly as a person.

“In my view and Brogan’s view, that is what limits the view of sex workers. You can also see them as people who deserve it,” Jessica Rose said in an interview with The Globe.

The issue of non-payment for services cuts to one of the reasons sex work advocates have fought to decriminalize sex work. They believe that sex workers should have access to the same benefits and protections afforded to those working in other industries, including measures such as going to the police or small claims court if a client fails to pay. “The fact that it’s undecided at this point sends the message that clients can refuse to pay with waivers,” Rose said.

Above Department of Justice websitethe government says legalizing and regulating prostitution will make more people eligible for prostitution. Tolerating overtly gendered practices by legalizing and regulating them demeans and degrades the human dignity of all women and girls. is not a commodity to be bought or sold.”

Sheehan grew up in a middle-class family in a suburb of Halifax. Her parents separated when she was in her sophomore year. Since then, she says, she has always worried about money. Sometimes she was hungry and had no money to buy food.

She started thinking about sex work after seeing other teens posting online ads and talking on social media. Her grades in high school were in her high 90s, she says, and she had dreams of becoming a marine biologist, but her shortcomings always loomed at the forefront. “Financial independence has always been one of my top priorities for her,” she said. “So sex work has always appealed to me.”

Sheehan hopes her lawsuit will spark a larger debate about the decriminalization of sex work, and that other sex workers may be turned to it if clients refuse to pay. “It’s important that anyone interested in participating in sex work be able to imagine it in a safe way, rather than fighting for their lives in a crack house,” she said, adding that the $10,000 I added that I paid taxes last year.

The Canadian Sex Work Law Reform Alliance, which represents 25 sex worker groups, will sue Ontario’s federal and provincial governments in 2021, challenge the constitutionality of the law. During October, case appeared In front of the Ontario High Court.

Alliance coordinator Jen Cramen said the law criminalizes sex workers at all levels. she said. “In this case, gratuitous service is definitely theft of service, which is a problem.”

Sex workers, especially those already targeted by authorities, such as indigenous, black and immigrant women, will never seek help from law enforcement because they are working in a criminal context, she added. “As long as the police have the power to arrest their clients, sex workers will always work in precarious conditions,” Ms. Kramen said.

Justice Minister David Rametti said in response to the October 2022 Standing Committee review, the government will continue to investigate the issue, assess the impact of legislation and consider ways to strengthen the criminal law response to violence and exploitation. and said they would support sex workers.

When asked about the status of this review, Justice Canada spokesman Ian MacLeod said the government believes that individuals can and remain involved in the sex industry under very different circumstances. He said some people are coerced into providing commercial sexual services, while others choose to do so.

“The government is very concerned about the safety of all those involved in the sex industry and is committed to taking into account the interests of all affected groups,” McLeod wrote. “Therefore, the government continues to monitor the impact of these reforms, including relevant Canadian case law and studies, as well as international studies.”

Now Sheehan is taking a step back from sex work. She enrolled in the adult learning program at her Nova Scotia community her college and works as a peer support her worker for vulnerable women at Elizabeth Her Fry Her Society and her YMCA. Her focus is on advocacy to ensure that children and sex workers are not exploited.

“I hope the future of sex workers looks more positive. I hope there is a difference between sex workers and victims of exploitation.”

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