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Carlington Prostitution Sweep

Yesterday, River Ward City Councilor Maria McRae sent out an email to her mailing list.

Here’s what it said:

Hello everyone:

As you know, community safety and crime prevention continue to be a priority for me and I applaud your efforts in working with me and the Ottawa Police Service to make sure that you identify issues of concern to you. In response, the Ottawa Police Service continually investigates and addresses issues brought to their attention. Thank you for your diligence.

I wanted to let you know that West Neighbourhood Officers conducted a two-day prostitution sweep in the Carlington area between May 28 and 29, 2009. The operation targeted street level sex trade workers and “Johns”.

Two adult women and two men were arrested during the operation. The two men qualified for “john school”. The two women were charged with prostitution related offences as follows:

[name redacted by zoom], 43-years-old, of Ottawa was charged with Communicate for the purpose of prostitution 213(1)© CC. She will appear in court on June 22, 2009.

[name redacted by zoom], 37-years-old, of Ottawa was charged with Communicate for the purpose of prostitution 213(1)© CC. She will appear in court on June 24, 2009.

Please feel free to make a confidential call to the police or to Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS) or toll free at 1-800-222-8477 if you want to report possible criminal activity.

With regards,


I responded:

What was the purpose of publicly naming these women? And why did you choose not to name the men?

Maria responded:

I forwarded information provided by the Ottawa Police. I am not certain as to why they provide the info in that format.


The same information was published in the Ottawa Citizen, but the Citizen indicated that the men could not be named. Does anybody know why that is? Is one of the benefits of agreeing to go to John School that your identity is protected?

It doesn’t seem right to me that only the female participants in sex-trade transactions are publicly identified. Personally, I think it should be decriminalized and nobody should be named. But since that’s not the case, then all the participants should be treated equally. Either name them all or name none of them.

One last point. This two-day sweep resulted in two acts of prostitution being interrupted. This would suggest that Carlington does not have much of a sex trade problem.

We keep increasing the police budget every year, but it sounds to me like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel looking for ways to spend it. Perhaps that money might be better spent on improving community and recreation services in low-income neighbourhoods like Carlington.

21 comments to Carlington Prostitution Sweep

  • Seems like a double standard to me. It’s okay to name the women, but not the men. Why? Because the women chose their path in life as sex trade workers, yet the men were simply innocent victims? Doesn’t seem fair to not label everyone.

    And it does seem to be a bit of a waste of money for only two busts. I’m sure the Ottawa Police could find better ways to spend the money.

    I also agree with the idea of decriminalizing it.

  • On top of that, if prostitution really is such an abomination, the police should do hotel sweeps, too.

    Good on you for calling them on it.

    – RG>

  • Formally, the explanation for the difference is that if you aren’t charged with anything, there are no grounds for the police to release your name to anyone.

    “John school” is a diversion program; charges aren’t laid if the john completes it successfully.

  • I am glad to see John schools used as a way to instruct and enlighten men making use of the services offered.
    I am glad they weren’t named publicly.
    I cannot help wondering why the providers of the service aren’t accommodated in a Jill school and also given the anonymity allowed for the men.
    As the church lady might say. Isn’t that conveeeenient.

  • XUP

    I was thinking exactly the same thing when I heard it on the radio this morning. Two arrests is a “sweep”?? After two days? The whole idea that police are sitting around for 2 days waiting to watch 2 consenting adults come to an agreement about an exchange of a sexual nature is absurd anyway.

  • There is no reason to give the names of the women. Why didn’t they give the names of the men. I am surprised the men were arrested. Most prostitution laws just victimize women, only women are arrested, and how can you expect a woman who is in the sex work field to get out once she has a criminal record.
    Check out Happy Endings? a documentary film on Asian massage parlors in Rhode Island were prostitution is legal.

  • Convivialiddell

    I can’t remember who said it, but he pointed out, basically, that it’s amusing that it’s a crime to sell something that you can give away for free. So I think that a way to get around the law is to not charge, but to, ah, request “donations.” It’s like how college girls can “donate” their eggs and are “compensated for their time.”

  • Rachelle

    Apparently in Sweden it is a crime to buy sex but not to sell it. I think the idea is to avoid revictimizing prostitutes, who generally do this work out of necessity (addiction, poverty, by pimps) rather than by choice. (Scientific American Mind, Dec. 2008/ Jan. 2009).

  • Zoom, I love you. So telling publishing those women’s names, isn’t it? Good for you for calling them on it.

  • Carmen

    …arrested for consenting to sex with another adult for money… and they worked two days for that. Eekkk!

  • Greencolander

    I wondered what happens in John School, and what the results are. I found this article:

    This alternative sentencing strategy is designed for the male clients of female prostitutes who have been charged with an offence under Section 213 of the Criminal Code. Upon entering a guilty plea, these men are diverted into a one-day educational program that focusses on the social harms caused by the sex trade. After completing the program, the original prostitution charge is withdrawn. Results from a pre- and post-program survey of John School participants (N=366) indicate that the program is somewhat successful in achieving some of its principal objectives. After attending the program, participants are more likely to accept responsibility for their actions, more likely to admit that they might have a sex addiction and are less likely to report favourable attitudes towards prostitution. There is also evidence of significant post-program improvement in the respondents’ knowledge of Canadian prostitution law and an increased awareness of both the victims and dangers associated with the sex trade. After completing the program, the vast majority of John School participants indicate that they will never again attempt to purchase sexual services from a prostitute. However, one out of every ten participants indicate that they will continue to use prostitutes in the future. The paper concludes with a discussion of the potential benefits and problems associated with the John School model.

    I wonder is an alternative sentencing strategy exists for the women charged with prostitution…

  • One of the reasons used to justify the practice of not naming men charged with solliciting is that it would bring shame and hurt bring down upon their families. Some of these men – like Senator/Dr Keon are viewed as valuable members of the community while the women who provide the female side of the commercial contract are viewed as human trash.

    There is a supply of sex workers because there is a demand from men who want, perhaps even prefer, to buy sex.

  • I was wondering about the whole police priority thing yesterday when I was pulled over by a police officer for riding my bike on the sidewalk. He told me that it is illegal to do so. I told him I knew that, but when I have the stroller attached to the bike, I prefer to stay on the sidewalks. No stroller, I become a law-abiding citizen. He seemed to like this answer and rode away. I should also mention he pulled me over on a quiet, off the beaten path neighborhood street. Sheesh.

  • Helen

    This makes me very cross. Whilst women who are prostitutes are charged with a criminal offence and publically named and shamed, the men who have chosen to buy sex get to keep their anonymity and go on a little one day training programme to correct their naughty ways. They probably even get a buffet lunch when they go to ‘john school’. It’s no great hardship for them I shouldn’t think, compared to what has happened to the women involved. Humph! I think it’s really good that you challenged the providing of the names Zoom – the fact that these women have been named in the community is only going to make it harder for them to get out of prostitution if that’s what they want to do.

  • Interesting. Based on Greencolander’s quote, it appears that the men *are* charged with something–at least until they complete John School–so David Reevely’s hypothesis may not be correct (or it may be correct that this is the police’s justification, but it seems wrongly justified).

  • (sorry, accidentally hit “submit”)

    The description of John School quoted by Greencolander is “a one-day educational program that focuses on the social harms caused by the sex trade.”

    This is highly ironic, because most of the *social* problems surrounding the sex trade are caused by the puritanical paranoia that goes into all this prohibition.

    It’s interesting that you can’t pay someone to have sex with you (prostitution), but you can pay two people to watch them have sex (pornography).

  • Lots of interesting comments here. I haven’t got time to touch on them all, but I’m enjoying reading them.

    Real Grouchy, I was wondering the same thing. According to what Green Colander found out, men ARE charged, then they’re sent to John School, and then the charges are dropped. So why aren’t they named? (And again, for the record, I’m only questioning the inconsistency – in fact, I don’t think the men or the women should be named.)

    Another question – why is John School only for male clients of female sex trade workers?

    Convivialidell, that’s a very good point about it being illegal to sell something that you’re allowed to give away for free.

    And XUP, I like the way you put it. It’s absurd for us to be paying police officers to try to catch consenting adults coming to an agreement of a sexual nature.

  • Okay, I’ve delved a little more in to john schools, and it seems they are pre-charge diversion programs.

  • […] when I blogged about writing to my city councilor, Maria McRae, about the Carlington Prostitution Sweep, which resulted […]

  • […] any of that around here. There’s one old woman who panhandles outside Mac’s. The 2-day prostitution sweep netted the arrests of two sex trade workers and two clients, which is hardly indicative of a huge […]