Emily Murphy, Letter Regarding Amending the Criminal
Code. Courtesy of City of Edmonton Archives.
Women's Police Court, Civic Block, Edmonton, April 16th,
A.G. Browning Esq. Deputy-Attorney General, Edmonton,
Re: Canadian Criminal Code
I desire to draw your attention to sub-section A of
clause 238 of the Code and urge the extreme desirability of
your requesting the Minister of Justice at Ottawa to have
the words "or herself" inserted immediately following the
word "himself" wherever it occurs.
Heretofore, females have been convicted under this
sub-section, but it is now argued, and I believe on good
grounds, that the word "everyone" in clause 238 does not
include both sexes, the contrary intention being shown in
No pronouns being used, the sub-sections C, D, E, F, G,
and H include both sexes, while in A, B, and L, where
"himself" is used the offences therein specified are
supposedly male offences. In sub-section I, "herself" is
used for what is palpably a female offence.
Owing to the extreme difficulty of getting material
evidence against prostitutes, it is vitally important that
the police should be able to call upon any "loose, idle or
disorderly person" to show that she has "visible means of
maintaining herself" and that she does not "live without
employment," the onus of proof being upon her as upon the
Owing to the introduction of cabarets into our Canadian
towns and cities, the methods of vice have changed. Women no
longer accost men on the streets but do so at the cabarets
under the cover of amusements which in themselves are
legitimate. A great number of females, many of them very
young girls, are thus maintaining themselves solely by
prostitution and it is next to impossible for the police to
secure evidence even against the best-known prostitutes.
Were the amendment above suggested put into force, we
would be able to regain a fairly good grip on a situation
that bids fair to get wholly beyond control.
Hoping you will give this suggestion your favorable
I have the honor to be, Your obedient servant,
Police Magistrate, City of Edmonton and Judge of Juvenile