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Current Canadian laws pertaining to sex workers reflect a diverse Canadian history of attitudes towards sex work. In the 19th century, although prostitutes certainly existed in Canada, the dominant religious and moral beliefs disapproved of the sex work industry and the laws were intended to end the industry. It is mainly within the late 20th and early 21st century that laws concerning sex workers have begun to change in response to shifting social attitudes. First, feminists argued that laws that punished mainly female sex workers and let buyers of their services go unpunished were essentially discriminatory. Second, once the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was passed, Canadian law had to deal with making sure that no laws concerning sex workers violated the Charter rights of the workers. Moreover, in the wake of the horrific mass murder of prostitutes by Robert Pickton in Vancouver, Canadian law began increasingly to take into account issues of the safety of sex workers.
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