December 20, 2013 11:52 am

Who is Terri-Jean Bedford, the dominatrix fighting Canada’s prostitution laws

Watch the video above: Retired dominatrix jokes about Stephen Harper hiring her as “government whip” 

TORONTO – “My name is the Bedford in Bedford v. Canada.”

In a landmark ruling, Canada’s highest court struck down the country’s anti-prostitution laws in a unanimous 9-0 ruling.

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At the centre of the years-long fight to change Canada’s prostitution laws is Terri-Jean Bedford – a retired dominatrix who – whip in hand – has become a champion for the rights of Canada’s sex workers.

The ruling comes more than two decades after the court last upheld the anti-prostitution laws. It represents a historic victory for sex workers – mainly women – who were seeking safer working conditions.

For background, while prostitution itself is legal, the Criminal Code of Canada contains a number of provisions prohibiting keeping a brothel, living on the avails of prostitution and street soliciting.

“These laws we have in Canada really are monstrous and do more harm than good to women in the sex trade industry,” said Bedford in an earlier interview with Vice UK.

On Friday, Bedford celebrated the Supreme Court’s ruling with a crack of her leather whip and wit.

“Prime Minister Harper called me you know, and offered me a job in the Senate – as a government whip. I told him I might have to think about it,” joked Bedford.

Also known as Madame deSade, Bedford, 54, is no stranger to the courts.

In 2007, Bedford was one of three plaintiffs in a legal challenge against Canada’s prostitution laws.

She, along with sex worker Amy Lebovitch and former prostitute Valerie Scott, argued that the laws were unconstitutional.

In 1993, Bedford opened the “Bondage Bungalow” in Thornhill, Ont.

The bungalow was raided by police in 1994 and Bedford was charged with operating a bawdy house.

Bedford said this was the tipping point for her, the moment she decided to fight Canada’s laws.

“In 1994,when I was raided for no reason, without a charge. They carted away my house, my belongings. The judge said the police had every right to do what they did because they were ‘good ol’ boys’,” said Bedford.

Speaking to reporters following Friday’s ruling, Bedford said that men and women shouldn’t be punished for “obeying their natural instincts.”

“It’s not illegal and there’s nothing wrong with it whatsoever. It’s quite healthy and it produces a very productive man. A happy man makes a productive man.”

RELATED: 5 things to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling

With files from The Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2013

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