Hundreds of shadowy body rub parlours operated by exploitative pimps and shysters are operating on the outskirts of Toronto, the Ontario Crown warns in a court document filed on Thursday.
The Crown brief urges the Supreme Court of Canada to let police keep the powers they have to protect female sex workers, who are often cowed into submissive silence.
The document forms part of an attempt by the Crown to persuade the court to maintain an interim ban on so-called bawdy houses.
However, a group of prostitutes who have successfully challenged the ban through two levels of court accuse Ontario and federal Crown lawyers of scaremongering.
In the decision under appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal invalidated the Criminal Code’s prohibition on keeping a brothel. It was critical of an anomaly that makes prostitution legal, yet practitioners are compelled to work in dangerous isolation. It granted prostitutes the right to set up brothels and hire staff to protect them.