Home Prostitution The history of women pay equity in Canada Women’s right to divorce in Canada Women in Education
The History of Prostitution by Dunya Lann
is one of the most ancient “professions” in history. It is defined as the
“act or practice of engaging in promiscuous sexual relations especially for
money” (Shaver). Since thousands of years, women especially have given sexual
services in return for money or other goods. Prostitution is a controversial
subject, involving complex and contradictory interests, values and issues. Many
people would rather see it banned and illegalized, as prostitution is often
found in the dangerous areas of large cities and generally involves illegal
procedures such as brothels and pimping. However, other people argue that men
and women have the freedom and right to decide for themselves, and that
prostitution will never really be eliminated, only moved elsewhere. In
Canada, the buying and selling of sexual services are not illegal, but most
surrounding activities, such as public communication for the purpose of
prostitution, brothels and procuring a prostitute are outlawed (Pain). This
makes the act of selling sex very complex to achieve. However, while the
prohibition of the activities surrounding the sex trade makes it difficult to
practice prostitution without breaking any law, the act of exchanging sex for
money has never been illegal in Canada. Laws concerning prostitution were passed
on by the United Kingdom when the country was still one of its colonies. The
first recorded laws dealing with prostitution were in Nova Scotia in 1759 and
were intended to make the status of being a prostitute or streetwalker an
offense (Shaver). “Throughout the 1800s, prostitution in Canada was organized
primarily around brothels” (Shaver) and was practiced in different parts of
the large Canadian cities, depending on the city. During that time, the
development of transcontinental railways also helped prostitution to flourish.
Because mainly single men were working on the railways and sent West, brothels
were created near those working areas and became very popular and lucrative (Shaver).
the Canadian Confederation, the laws regarding prostitution were consolidated in
the Criminal Code. These dealt principally with pimping, procuring prostitutes,
operating brothels and soliciting. When the Criminal Code was finalized in 1892,
street walking and bawdy houses were outlawed in an attempt to make certain city
areas more controlled and, consequently, safer (The Canadian). The sex industry
continued with little public comment and no major changes for the next 50 years.
Only minor changes to the bawdy house section took place in 1947. The maximum
sentence for keepers and inmates was elevated to three years and a new offence
was added. Hereafter, knowingly transporting someone to a bawdy house was
considered a crime. Also during that period, mostly women were arrested and
punished for prostitution. Men seeking it or paying for it were only seldom
penalized for their actions. This was often criticized, as prostitution and the
women offering sexual services were mostly present due to the men who requested
it and would consequently make the profession lucrative.
the late 1970s and early 1980s, the increased visibility of street-based
prostitution in residential neighbourhoods caused some major public protests.
Mainly, the population demanded for stricter laws concerning the solicitation of
prostitution on the streets (The Canadian). In 1972, a law making soliciting
illegal was implanted. In 1983, laws were finally established to make the
“buyer” of prostitution just as guilty as the “seller.” Essentially, men
who procured themselves sex for money were also arrested and punished for
encouraging this often dangerous profession. This was followed by the
criminalisation of even simply "attempting to communicate for the purpose
of prostitution” (Shaver) in 1985. It had then become illegal to even speak
about offering or asking for sex for money elsewhere than in a private location.
New organisations were also created in order to protect prostitutes and their
rights: “The Canadian Organization for the Rights of Prostitutes (CORP) began
in Toronto in 1983 and the Alliance for the Safety of Prostitutes (ASP) was
founded in Vancouver in the early 1980s” (Shaver).
the 1990s, the terms used for describing the act of selling sex for money were
officially changed. Prostitution became “sex work” and a prostitute was now
called a “sex worker” (Shaver). Throughout those years, debates concerning
this profession took a different turn. With the expanding globalisation, laws
and restrictions from other countries were introduced to these debates, forcing
a more open-minded opinion. It became clearer that instead of punishing sex
workers, it was more important to protect them from the dangerous world they
live in. Basically, making their environment safer would cause major changes
regarding the drugs and violence often found within the prostitution world.
Also, with the massive immigration and traveling, the spreading of HIV
and AIDS became a precarious problem.
laws regarding prostitution have not really changed and remain the same today.
Buying sex or talking about buying sex with someone under the age of eighteen or
in a public place is still considered an offence. Engaging in a sexual act in a
public place is considered indecent and punishable by the law as well. Also,
running a “bawdy-house”, working in one, or allowing someone to run one in a
place that is under one’s control is illegal and can be penalized by several
years of imprisonment. “Pimping” or any other acts of persuading and forcing
people into prostitution can be punished by up to fourteen years in prison
(Pain). Prostitution is in itself not illegal in Canada, but the laws that
surround it are very strict, making it very complex and confusing to legally
work as a prostitute.
The. “Prostitution Laws In Canada.” The
Canadian. N.P. 2007. http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/home/Sexuality/2006/03/06/01153.html
retrieved on November 21, 2011.
Tushar K. “Is Prostitution Legal In Canada?” Toronto
Criminal Defence Article. N.P.
retrieved on November 21, 2011.
Frances M. “Prostitution.” The
Canadian Encyclopaedi. N.P. 2006. http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=A1ARTA0006521
retrieved on November 21, 2011.
History of Women’s Pay Equity in Canada
In the past, women in Canada experienced inequality in
the public and the private spheres. Rules were strictly governed by patriarchy,
forcing women to conform to laws even though they were unjust. In today’s
Canadian society, women have more rights than in the past, but they have not
reached complete equality with men yet. This can be demonstrated by the pay
equity of Canadian men and women. According to Statistics Canada, women who work
full time for a full year with a university degree will earn 30% less than a man
possessing the same characteristics (Statistics Canada, n.p.). While
investigating more about this statistic, articles have proved that female
university professors and nurses still do not make the same income as men even
though their careers are of equal value. The government needs to make a change
and enforce better laws for women in the work force.
study was made to compare the wages of full time University professors according
to gender differences. Researchers used data from Statistics Canada that were
collected from all Canadian universities. The study showed that between the
1980s and early 1990s, the wage gap started to decrease, allowing women to earn
a decent salary. The reason for this could be because there are more women
studying to be professors. In the 1990s, the income gender gap decreased even
more, but the females still did not have the same wage as the men, even though
they had the same education. Some believe that men get a greater salary because
they work more hours and take less time off work for family purposes, but does
this hypothesis still stand for women who do not have children to take care of?
Men take time off work for their families too; it is not just the role of
the women in today’s society. Females work just as hard as men do and deserve
complete equality (Warman, Woolley, and Worswick, 3-9). Statistics Canada’s
data showed that between the years of 2002 to 2003, women earned $13, 000 less
than the men teaching in the same field at a University level. More precisely, a
female lecturer or an instructor for health sciences in a university will earn
around $3000 more than a male since the majority are females in that domain, but
when having the position of an assistant professor for health sciences,
will earn more. Male health science teachers, when achieving the highest
position of a completely certified professor, the male will again earn over $12,
000 more than the female per year (Sussman and Yssaad , table 5).
Another article, written by the New Brunswick Nurses
Union, stated that even though 94% of nurses are female and 87% of women work in
health related fields, women are still being underpaid. When comparing to the
majority of males in engineering, the Nurses Union believes that nursing is just
as important and as equal as engineering and that nurses or other health related
fields should get the same wage. The people in the Nurses Union feel that they
are being undervalued for their work even though it has the same value as
engineers. Even though the majority of people working in the health field are
women, the men are still privileged. “In 2002 the average hourly earnings of
full-time women in New Brunswick, who have Community College/ CEGEP education,
including nursing school, or a Bachelor’s degree is 79% of what full-time men
with similar education earn” (The New Brunswick Nurses Union, 3). Today,
although the Nurse Union argued for salary equality, their hourly income is 19%
less than men’s. This proves that there needs to be a law avoiding this
discrimination towards women in the Canadian provinces (The New Brunswick Nurses
The Canadian Human Rights Act is a law that states that
it is illegal to give a higher wage to males or females when both sexes do jobs
or have careers with the same value. If the employer fails to conform to the Act,
the employees need to send a complaint to the Canadian Human Right Commissions
or to the Tribunal, depending on the case. The disadvantages to this procedure
are that it costs a great deal of money and it takes time if both parties cannot
come to an agreement, and this Act does not work in every work field. For
example, it took Canada Post over 25 years so settle a work inequality case with
the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. The complaint started in 1983 and it is said
that they spent 2 million dollars per year to fight for their rights for equal
pay. In 1997, the Pay Equity Act was enforced only in Quebec and Ontario because
the previous act was not working and was against women’s equality. This law
was finally a success (Côté and Lassonde 3-4, 7). Elsewhere in Canada is a
different story. In 2004, the Pay Equity Task Force did a research on pay equity
and strongly believed that women should have equal rights in the work force if
the work has equal value to that of the males. It took them three years to
conduct the study and they even found solutions to the problem. Although the
research made sense and showed fairness, in 2009 the federal government did not
accept the Task Forces solutions and research. Instead, the federal government
made a new Act creating a worse situation. It stated that employers do not have
any time limit to increase the wage of females, meaning that they do not need to
give women an equal pay in the public sector. The worst part is that if a woman
wants to file a complaint, they are allowed to, but they cannot get help from
their union or else they get a huge fine (Canadian Feminist Alliance for
International Action and Canadian Labour Congress, 23-25). “The federal
government in Canada, and most governments at the provincial level have failed
to provide Canadian women with effective laws and procedures for redressing
discrimination in pay (Proactive pay equity legislation covering both the
private and public sectors exists only in two provinces, Ontario and Quebec)”
(Canadian Feminist Alliance for International Action and Canadian Labour
perception of women has evolved when comparing it to the past. In the last
thirty years, the income difference between men and women has decreased. Even
though women have the same level of education and have an equally valued job as
men, they are still not treated equally, as shown when looking at university
professors and nurses income. The federal government is not helping this
situation in Canada by enforcing laws that are not fair to women. Regulations
need to be changed in Canada and women must keep fighting for their equal rights.
Women must not let their hard work and effort be undervalued!
Feminist Alliance for International Action and Canadian Labour Congress.
Women in Canada and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action Fifteen
Years on” A Canadian Civil Society Response. 2010 from http://www.fafia-afai.org/files/2010-02-22-Canada-Beijing+15-NGO-Report-EN.pdf
Côté, A. and Lassonde, J. “Status report on pay
equity in Canada” 2007 from
Canada. “Women in Canada” Economic and well-being. Consulted on
Sussman, D., and Yssaad, L. “Perspectives on Labour and Income”
earn less than their
colleagues. 2005. Vol 6, no. 2 retrieved from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-001-x
New Brunswick Nurses Union. “Brief
on the Pay Equity Act to the New Brunswick
Standing Committee on Law Amendments” 2004 from http://www.equite-equity.com/userfiles/file/NB%20Nurses%20Union_doc.pdf
Warman, C., Woolley, F., and Worswick, C. “The
Evolution of Male-Female Wages
in Canadian Universities: 1970-2001. 2006. Consulted on November 20,
2011 from http://www.fqppu.org/assets/files/babillard/donnees_statistiques/Evolution_Male-Female_1970-2001.pdf
The XXth century has been an era during which many
things have changed in different areas. We can think about the social sphere.
Indeed, society has evolved, especially for women. A few years ago, women were
living in difficult conditions. Some women stood up to help these women to
become stronger, to decide of their future, and to be equal as men. In fact, now
women can make their own choices. But unfortunately, a few years ago, it was not
the case. For example, we only have to think about the women’s right to
divorce. Women did not have the chance to express their ideas and their feelings
for different reasons. Certainly, in this paper, I will demonstrate the history
of women’s right to divorce in Canada. In fact, they were living in a
patriarchal society in which religion had power.
To begin with, a few years ago, women were living in a
patriarchal society. In fact, in Canada, the past society has been patriarchies,
in the sense of being controlled by men. “Patriarchy began in classical
antiquity and ended in the nineteenth century with the granting of civil rights
to women and married women in particular”(Lerner, 1986, p.239). Definitely,
women could not express themselves. Men wanted to have power and keep it. If
woman were not comfortable in their marriage, they had to keep silence, and let
the man decided. Definitely, women were kept in the private sphere. Also, women
could not express themselves in the public sphere. This might be a reason that
women could not think about divorce, because it would give the idea to the
“public” that the woman was not happy in the relationship and indeed, that
would have been a bad image for the man.
During the past years, religion was an important value
that people had to respect. In Canada, people were more guided by religion.
Indeed, one of the important value was at marriage had to last for life. The
divorce was seen as a shame for the family. In fact, for a married couple in
Canada, divorce was particularly unusual until after World War II. Until that
time, Canada had one of the lowest divorce rates in the Western world (Government
of Canada). During and after WWII, women began to work. Indeed, they became more
independent of their revenue. Certainly, before the war, women could not live
without their husband. This was poor conditions if women wanted to divorce
because they would live in poverty. Even today, the high number of women in
poverty in Canada is partially due to divorce and its economic effects.
Most of the
people were guided by social and religious leaders who condemned divorce as a
threat to the family, and the strength of this opinion prevented the reduction
of Canadian divorces. Consequently, access to divorce in Canada was extremely
limited until 1968. The divorce rate has been increasing since the first major
change in the divorce law in 1968. Indeed, this law promoted that divorce could
be obtained on the basis of a matrimonial offence or on the basis of marriage
breakdown. Since that time, the increase has continued to augment with a second
peak in the late 1980s following another revision of the Divorce Act (Government
of Canada). However, as we can read in the catholic school book for women in the
1960’s, women were still controlled by religion and men. For example, at
school, they were learning how to satisfy their husband. Indeed, women could not
think or act in an opposite way as their husband. Even if they were not happy in
their marriage, they could not express themselves, they had to keep silent and
follow the religion or the man.
1986, if the reason of the divorce was a conjugal breakdown, the couple had to
have lived three years apart before they could obtain a divorce. In 1986 a
revised Divorce Act (1985) was proclaimed in force. The revised act
included a "no-fault" divorce and the sole reason for divorce now is
marriage breakdown, which is defined as either living apart for at least one
year or committing adultery or treating the other spouse with physical or mental
cruelty (Government of Canada).
As we can notice, religion was not as important as
before. People were still religious, but they were thinking more about their
rights and their relationships. Moreover, women had more security because they
were less economically independent. Women obtained more rights, which help them
to express themselves and to be stronger.
To conclude, during the past years, women’s
conditions have changed for the best in different spheres. Now women can express
their feeling and be autonomous. The women’s right to divorce is only one of
many progresses that women have lived. For example, we only have to think about
their right to vote or the salary equality. In fact, there is still work to do
to obtain the full equality. Canada could be an example of the progress we have
made because in different cultures, women are still living in difficult
M. Marriage and Divorce. The
Canadian Encyclopedia. 2011.
Douglas, K. Law and Government Division. Revised
27 March 2001
Lerner, G. The creation of patriarchy. Oxford
University Press. 1986
Ward, P. History of
Marriage and Divorce. The Canadian
The History of Women’s Education
by Catherine Jean-Baptiste
Throughout history, women’s education has gone through many stages, and
many fights. Many women have fought heart and soul for a better education for
their peers, children, and future generations. Nowadays, if women can enjoy a
good, successful education, and very similar, if not almost identical to men’s,
it is because of these many battles.
Indeed, before today’s education, women had to go through many
different stages, losses, and wins, in order to build what can be called a good
system of education for the female kind. Women’s education has been awfully
neglected over history as men did not see the importance of educating their
wives and daughters. Harvard University was established in 1636. However, it
took two other centuries before the first college admitted women. Moreover, it
took until 1980 for the number of male and female students attending college to
be equal (NHWM 2007).
In the 1700s, women’s education relied on
race, location, and class. Wealthy women being taught very little, middle class
and poor women had obviously little to no access to any kind of education or
teaching. Wealthy girls and women had the opportunity to be taught by
governesses or to be sent to a convent school. Education for women at that time
was oriented towards what men expected from their wives. Therefore, women’s
ambition was to become skilled in household duties (NWHM 2007).
Most of the things that were taught to women
had a very specific purpose, and it was never for their own pleasure of learning.
For example, they were taught to read only in order to read the Bible. Also,
some of them were taught arithmetic and writing to record household expenses.
The rest of their knowledge laid in needlework, etiquette, music, cooking, and
nursing, and were meant to be used in the daily lives of housewives,
housekeepers, and mothers (NHWM, 2007).
During the Victorian era, especially at the
beginning of the century, girls were educated for fashionable purposes. Since
women found significance in men’s lives through their body and appearance as
it was used for reproduction, and ‘’seen as temples’’ (Licciardi-Lenci),
society educated them from childhood to adulthood to meet these requirements.
In Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane
Eyre published in 1847, this idea of women’s education being narrowed down
to fashionable accomplishments is more than once very well illustrated. Jane
Eyre’s own education reflects these skills that women were required to have at
that time as she is taught French and English, and other meaningless subjects
such as drawing and music. Through the entire novel, all the occupations that
take place in the main character’s routine reside in the hobbies mentioned
earlier. When she visits her dying aunt and spends time with her cousins, when
she stays at Rochester’s house, and when she stays with Diana and Mary,
St-John’s sisters, she spends her time drawing, playing music, and reading.
The following excerpt tells more about it:
Eliza would sit half the day sewing, reading, or
writing, and scarcely utter a word either to me or her sister. Georgiana would
chatter nonsense to her canary bird by the hour, and take no notice of me. [...]
Provided with a case of pencils, and some sheets of paper, I used to take a seat
apart from then, near the window, and busy myself in sketching fancy vignettes,
representing any scene that happened momentarily to shape itself in the
ever-shifting kaleidoscope of imagination’ (Jane Eyre, p.268).
of these occupations have any impact, matter or importance in the society or
public sphere. This novel illustrates women’s education history very
appropriately. Also, in this novel, the history of women’s education is
demonstrated as Jane is sent to a convent school to do her education.
In the United States, after the Revolutionary War
(1775-1883), changes in women’s education were done because of external
factors and goals. Indeed, as they needed to build a Republican country, they
realized the importance of educating women in depth in order for them to raise
patriotic sons, and to teach them independence and self-reliance values. Also,
young men began to choose their spouses according to romance and companionship
more than according to their parents’ wants and needs. Therefore, fathers felt
the need to educate their daughters to make them more attractive, and give them
better chances to marry a good and wealthy husband.
In the 1800s, the implantation of secondary schools,
also called academies or seminaries, started. Women began to be taught subjects
such as ‘’philosophy, chemistry, ancient and modern history, geography,
grammar, rhetoric, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, moral philosophy, natural
theology, and Latin’’ (NHWM 2007). However, even though they were taught
pretty much the same things as their fellow men companions, it took until the
late 1800s to the mid 1960s for education to be heterosexual. Indeed, women
presence was not thought to have a positive effect on men’s education. As said
in the online exhibit of the National History of Women Museum of Alexandria,
Virginia, society thought that women would suffer of nervous breakdowns if they
were to compete in a man’s world, be corrupted, lose their purity, and harm
their reproductive system. It was also a general idea that a learned women might
not end up being a good wife or mother, and that education would
‘’masculinise’’ women (NHWM 2007).
Jane Eyre. London: Penguin Classics, 1847.
Licciardi, S. and
Lenci, E. “The Role of Women in the Victorian Age.” Online Posting. 25 Jan.
2009. English4us. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://5b-english4us.blogspot.com/2009 /01/role-of-women-in-victorian-age.html>