Dominatrix on Trial
How a Canadian Dominatrix Fought the Law and Won
by Terri-Jean Bedford
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Pub Date 26 Apr 2022 | Archive Date Not set
Riverdale Avenue Books, Truth
Terri-Jean Bedford was one of Canada's most notorious citizens--but few know her under that name. As Madame deSade, however, she was Canada's most famous leather-clad dominatrix, a well-known public figure appearing on the evening news as she took on the Canadian legal establishment to ultimately change sex worker law throughout the country.
Born into abject poverty, this bi-racial girl was placed into a foster home at six, where she was abused. She was later moved into various children’s homes and lived there until she was 16, when she left to make it on her own. She survived by working numerous unskilled jobs, until she entered the world of prostitution.
Her talents and interests helped her move into the elite world of the professional dominatrix, after which life was never the same. Located just outside of Toronto, her elaborate Bondage Bungalow became the target of a spectacular raid. Six highly publicized years of trials and appeals later, she was convicted under bawdy-house laws and paid a small fine. In 1999, she opened a similar facility in downtown Toronto, one that closed without police interference in 2002.
A few years later she was at the center of Bedford vs. Canada, a five-year constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex trade laws. The Supreme Court vindicated her struggles. A mother and grandmother, she still advocates and writes for sex worker rights. Despite her at times heart-breaking story and declining health, she says she is going out a winner.
She remains a vocal advocate for civil rights and the disenfranchised. She has been a plaintiff in a major constitutional challenge, and, as a result, Canada's prostitution laws were struck down in 2010.
A play based on her life story is currently in production in Windsor, Canada in 2022.
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