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Ontario Superior Court Upholds Laws Targeting Pimps and Sex Buyers in Canada: A Victory for Women

Updated: Sep 23, 2023

September 18th, 2023

Asian Women for Equality welcomes the Ontario Superior Court decision that Canada’s prostitution laws known as the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) are constitutional. The Court heard a Charter challenge brought by pro-prostitution lobbyists who sought to have the laws struck down as unconstitutional. As intervenors, Asian Women spoke to the damaging impact of prostitution on women’s sexual and racial equality. It is a view that the Court agreed with.

The Canadian laws are designed to protect women, and target the men responsible for the exploitation, trafficking, and commodification of women ensnared in the sex industry. The Court decision affirms Canada’s commitment to create and enhance sex, race and economic equality for women.

Key Highlights:

1. The Court noted the exploitative nature of prostitution, and who the exploited and exploiters are.

“…there is a large amount of evidence that there are many involved in the sex trade – mostly men – who exploit and profit from the sexual labour of others – mostly women. That exploitation is not only parasitic and misogynistic; it is also frequently violent and manipulative.”

2. The Court noted a strong link between prostitution and human trafficking.

“I find that there is a clear link between sex work and human trafficking. In fact, there is a considerable body of evidence that many sex workers are manipulated or coerced into sex work or trafficked while in it.”

3. The Court found evidence that Canada’s existing prostitution laws are consistent with the Charter and benefit women.

“The evidence does not support the Applicants’ position that PCEPA creates or perpetuates prejudice, stigma, economic exclusion, social exclusion. Arguably, by immunizing sex workers, PCEPA does the opposite.”

Asian Women for Equality is a feminist group that helped win the decriminalization of prostituted women while asserting the need for criminal sanctions against pimps, recruiters, advertisers and sex buyers. The group also advocates for a guaranteed liveable income (Basic Income) to provide another layer of protection that can help women to avoid or exit recruitment into the sex industry.

Asian Women for Equality was represented by Nerissa Yan of Yan Muirhead LLP and Jennifer Flood.

For further comment:


To read more about our legal arguments, download the factum of the intervener Asian Women for Equality in Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform v. Attorney General:

2022 Factum of Asian Women for Equality - CASWLR v Canada
Download • 250KB

Check out our info sheet about the case or download it here:

2023 Info Sheet Asian Women for Equality re CASWLR v Canada
Download PDF • 549KB

Download this media statement:

2023 Asian Women for Equality Media Statement
Download PDF • 130KB

View or download this media statement (French):

2023 Déclaration sur la constitutionnalité de la PCEPA
Download PDF • 122KB

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