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Sex-worker advocate wins support

May 29, 2009, Vancouver -- Sheryl Kiselbach, who worked as a sex worker for 30 years and who is the violence-prevention coordinator with the Prostitution, Alternatives, Counselling & Education Society, started a legal challenge of Canada’s prostitution laws in 2007, stating that the laws criminalising sex workers increase their exposure to violence. In December, a judge ruled that Ms. Kiselbach would not have her case heard based on a technicality: Because she no longer works as a sex worker, the laws she is challenging do not cause her to work in unsafe conditions. Here is an update on her fight:

A former sex-trade worker will have support from three legal groups in her fight to one day challenge Canada’s prostitution laws.

Katrina Pacey, staff lawyer with the Pivot Legal Society, said that last December a judge ruled Sheryl Kiselbach, who was a sex worker for 30 years, does not have a case because she is no longer active in the sex trade and isn’t currently facing criminal charges.

“We think that is incorrect legally and also a social-justice, human-rights violation itself,” said Pacey.

On Thursday the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Trial Lawyers Association of B.C. and the West Coast Legal Education and Action Fund were granted intervener status in an appeal that, if won, would give Kiselbach the right to argue that prostitution should be legalized.

“As far as safety, if the laws were changed, the safety of sex workers would be much more enhanced,” said Kiselbach.