Halifax police worked closely with Stepping Stone while investigating the disappearance of Nadine Taylor, but continue to enforce laws the sex workers’ outreach organization says make women like Taylor vulnerable.
“The prostitution laws in Canada remain on the books and they remain enforceable laws,” Deputy Chief Chris McNeil of Halifax Regional Police told reporters yesterday after announcing Steven Elliot Laffin was charged with murdering Taylor.
“Prostitution creates a significant harm to the people who are involved in it and has adverse impacts on the community. We support the legislation as it currently is.”
Ontario’s Supreme Court struck down those laws in September.
That case is expected to make its way to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone, praised Halifax police for the “diligent” Taylor investigation.
“The murder of a sex worker is the murder of a human being – a daughter, a sister, a friend,” she said.
“Sex workers continue to report to me that violence is an issue.”
Stepping Stone supports the decriminalization of sex work, arguing it would improve the health and safety of women like Taylor and better their relationships with police.
It says many sex workers who have been assaulted don’t report it to police because they fear police will then target them for the criminalized work.
“It’s also about removing the stigma,” she said.
“(The stigma) has created what some call a society where the women are seen as disposable and nobody cares about them. Organizations like Stepping Stone do care, as do their families and friends.”