Appellate judges in Toronto were to begin hearing arguments Monday in a landmark case that would decriminalize the profession in Canada, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.
Last year, Ontario Justice Susan Himel struck down three anti-prostitution laws -- keeping a common bawdy house, communicating for the purposes of prostitution and earning a living from the trade -- ruling the laws made prostitution more dangerous.
Trade workers, former prostitutes and a sex trade support/advocacy group said violence against prostitutes is a problem across the country.
"Countless attempted murders, a few murders, rapes, forcible confinement -- we need to come together and realize sex workers are people and are entitled to have some safety just like everybody else," said Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone in Halifax, a sex-trade support and advocacy group.
A former prostitute the CBC identified only as Joanne said sex workers would be safer if anti-prostitution laws were eliminated.
"The women and men who now have to be in unsafe situations, such as jumping in cars before they are seen, sneaking into dark alleys to apply the trade, would have safer places to be," she said.
Alan Young, lead lawyer working for the sex-trade workers, said he expects the case eventually will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.