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Attitudes, Beliefs, and Knowledge of Prostitution and the Law in Canada

NCJ Number
Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice Volume: 54 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2012 Pages: 229-244
Heather Morton; Carolin Klein; Boris B. Gorzalka
Date Published
April 2012
16 pages
This study examined the extent to which a sample of college students were aware of the current laws regarding prostitution in Canada.
Prostitution in Canada is technically not illegal; however, current laws make the act of buying or selling sex illegal under most circumstances. The legal status of prostitution was recently brought to public attention after three of these laws were deemed unconstitutional by an Ontario Superior Court judge. The present study recruited 238 Canadian undergraduate students to investigate their knowledge of, and attitudes toward, current Canadian prostitution laws. In addition, the relationship between these attitudes and beliefs about prostitution more generally, were examined. The results indicate that while most students have an accurate understanding of the majority of the laws relating to prostitution, they are unaware of situations in which prostitution can take place without breaking the law. Further, students are generally unaware that communicating for the purposes of prostitution in a public place and being found within a bawdy house are illegal. The number of years participants had lived in Canada was found to be a significant predictor of more accurate knowledge of the laws. Gender, ethnicity, and beliefs about aspects of prostitution were significant predictors of attitudes toward the law. Participants perceived female and street prostitution more negatively than male and indoor prostitution. Implications with respect to education and changes to the current legislation and public policy are discussed. (Published Abstract)


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