Hopefully you can hear me say that the irony of you not being able to hear me while I'm talking about sex workers not being heard is not lost. Hopefully that will give all of you a little smile for the day. Maybe you can't hear that.
Madame Gaudreau, you cannot hear me say it still? You can? You thought my joke was funny, fantastic.
I'll just continue on some of the principles that underscored our recommendations.
The last few are around how singling out sex workers and activities related to sex work for additional prohibitive or additional repression is virtually always harmful for people working in the sex industry. Some of the briefs that you received, particularly the one from West Coast LEAF and other partners, really outlined the evidence around that.
Any legislation or policy or repressive measure that you're thinking of right now should really maximize the autonomy of sex workers to be able to work as safely as possible in keeping with sex workers' human rights to safe working conditions, liberty, privacy, non-discrimination and dignity.
I'll finish up now, but there's been a lot of discussion around youth in this committee as well. There's been a lot of conflation of issues with youth, and exploitation, and sex industry, human trafficking; these words are being bandied about very carelessly. In our recommendations for law reform, we also took the time with the hundreds and hundreds of sex workers to talk about recommendations for youth. I also wanted to share those with you too, because our recommendations really stem from recognizing the agency of people, and that includes people under 18, and by agency meaning the capacity to think, and the capacity to make decisions in a given set of conditions that anybody is living on.
The entire focus on child exploitation and human trafficking in this committee has been completely overblown. That is not to suggest these things don't exist in real space and time, but they have been overblown with respect to the conversations in this committee. The framing of all content online as youth exploitation really undermines sex workers' ability to keep safe and makes it harder to address violence in the industry. When we see everything as violence in the industry, it's hard to understand when sex workers are actually experiencing violence.
The alliance's groups recommend the following principles with respect to understanding youth and any regulations that involves youth: a harm reduction approach that requires authorities to use the least intrusive approach towards youth with the emphasis on preserving community; and a recognition that repression, apprehension, detention and rehabilitation are often experienced as antagonistic and traumatic and often push youth away from supports rather than towards supports.
The alliance's member groups also recommend a reliance on existing laws rather than the creation of new laws, additional regulations and law enforcement measures that move people away from supports rather than towards supports.
I'll conclude by saying that last week we heard Bill Blair say what all sex workers were fearing as a result of this committee. We were assured it had nothing to do with committee, but we heard Bill Blair say that he was thinking of creating a new regulatory body that would be created for online content. We can't stress enough that more regulation is not the answer and that it will just actually harm sex workers and harm the industry in general with respect to sex workers' rights.
There's also the ongoing parallel work of Bill S-203 submitted to the Senate by Julie Miville-Dechêne.
On top of this there's the continual refusal of Parliament to decriminalize sex work, despite the evidence that regulation and criminalization harms sex workers.
Targeting Internet sex work during a pandemic is such an aggressive and violent move on your part and on the part of everybody who's considering regulation right now. The Internet has been a safe haven for so many workers who are unable to face the conditions of COVID like so many sex workers. Some sex workers, but not all, have moved online and have been able to support themselves this way, so it is important, now more than ever, to protect these spaces and to ensure that sex workers can continue to work without violence and exploitation.
If you want to know how to protect people on platforms like Pornhub, create a committee, sit down with people who actually post their content on Pornhub, sit down with sex workers and talk to us.