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Operators and organizations representing prostitutes say that strategy means erotic massage parlours continue to operate across the island with relative impunity and recent federal anti-prostitution law that came into effect late last year is, at least in part, being ignored.
How to deal with the issue is mixed: Chicoine and other parlour owners want prostitution to be decriminalized entirely while advocacy groups that deal with prostitution in Montreal are split. Chicoine said his businesses are transparent, clean, safe and should be legal because prostitution will never disappear. Dianne Matte, spokeswoman for CLES, a Montreal-based anti-prostitution advocacy group that helps women leave the sex trade, said the new laws on the books need to be enforced.
But Anna-Aude Caouette, who works with STELLA, a pro-sex worker community group that deals directly with Montreal prostitutes, said she fears that if the parlours are shuttered, workers would go underground and it would be extremely difficult to find and help them. If a client is making us feel uncomfortable, we can get help from the receptionist.
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