Megan Murphy has been writing about sex work on rabble.ca and has been causing a bit of a stir… Please visit the site to post on the comments!
It’s become so predictable that, now, I just sit back and wait. I’ve written several pieces about prostitution and the abolitionist movement, and several more that don’t directly address these issues, but perhaps mention the word “prostitution.” And really, that’s all it takes these days.
What I’ve come to realize is, no matter what I write, no matter what argument I make, no matter the points I bring up, the sex work lobby doesn’t care. Because if you aren’t agreeing with them, you must be stopped.
Public use of the word “prostitution” is enough to justify skimming right past the contents of any article and heading straight to the silencing. The silencing is the most important work, after all. It is the goal. “If we can bully them into shutting up, maybe we’ll win,” is what they seem to be thinking.
It’s been 22 years since the Montreal massacre. We talk violence against women, and ways to end it, with survival sex work organizer Jennifer Allan, founder of Jen’s Kitchen. She experienced violence in the survival sex industry first-hand, but today, she supports those in the trade and pushes for change. By David P. Ball.
[Jennifer Allan, founder of Jen’s Kitchen, experienced violence in the survival sex industry first-hand – and today she advocates for those in the trade. Photo: David P. Ball]
Jennifer Allan knows first-hand what it’s like to sell one’s body in order to feed it.
About ten years ago, the 34-year old founder of Jen’s Kitchen – an advocacy, outreach and food relief service for women in Vancouver’s survival sex trade – found herself pacing the streets of Calgary and Vancouver, the pain of hunger in her belly.
THE spotlight swings around and the debate, once hushed, grows loud: What happens to sex work in Canada now?
There’s only one thing everyone knows for sure. “The public does not want to see any more bodies in pig farms,” said Nikki Thomas, executive director of the Sex Professionals of Canada. No more Picktons and no more exploitative pimps. But how best to stop the violence?
This is where the dialogue, even in exclusively feminist circles, suddenly diverges. Split into passionate but incompatible paths it goes: abolitionists on one side and the sex-worker rights advocates on the other.
Ward 27 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam says she’s surprised so many people in the Homewood Ave neighbourhood rejected a proposed turn restriction, a move that would have attempted to curb sex work in the area.
This story makes me smile! If you want to learn more – visit Touching Base or listen to Global Perspective’s “The Too Hard Basket” by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
If there’s one thing that makes some people squirm more than the idea of a functional, happy sex worker it’s the frank discussion of disabled sexuality. And award-winning Australian director Catherine Scott has set out to demystify both in her new documentary, Scarlet Road: A Sex Worker’s Journey.
An appeal court decision expected early next year could decriminalize prostitution in Canada, putting us on par with the Netherlands. Experts there say it’s the best way to protect women, but officials in Sweden, where they have a zero-tolerance policy, say it would be a big mistake. Claire Tremblay looks at the two approaches to see what Canada can learn
By Claire Tremblay, Ottawa Citizen December 3, 2011
Det.-Insp. Kajsa Wahlberg, a middle-aged woman with short blond hair, exudes an air of policing officialdom. As Sweden’s National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking, the seasoned police inspector has witnessed human trafficking at its worst. From lone pimps exploiting teen girls and seducing them with promises of love, to complex crime syndicates that drag drugged women en masse into anonymous hotel rooms across Europe, Wahlberg has seen it all.
And as the Ontario Court of Appeal considers a case that could see prostitution decriminalized in this country, she has a warning for Canada: Do so at your own peril.
Expect prostitution to skyrocket, she says. Expect drugs, crime and human trafficking to soar.
“If Canada adopts a model of decriminalizing sex buyers, prostitution will explode. It will become like the Netherlands,” says Wahlberg. “The sex buyers will require more and different types of weirdo sex and new varieties and services. It would be a big mistake.”
The court case that so alarms Wahlberg is Bedford v. Canada, the September 2010 Ontario Court of Justice case where sex workers Terri-Jean Bedford, Amy Leibovitch and Valerie Scott took the federal government to court over Canada’s sex laws – and won.
Despite recent claims from the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) that they’re switching emphasis from sex workers to johns when it comes to street sweeps, local cops arrested five workers in Vanier Nov 25.
It’s the fourth sweep in as many months.
“POWER is certainly critical of the street sweeps happening in Ottawa,” says Frédérique Chabot, a member of Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate & Resist (POWER) and co-author of a recent research report on sex work. “Even the name ‘street sweep’ is problematic in our eyes. The language feeds the construction of sex workers as being disposable and dirty.”
POWER and other advocacy groups question why police are still utilizing this tactic despite a ruling from Ontario’s Supreme Court last September that struck down the laws governing sex work. In her ruling, Justice Susan Himel indicated that these laws contribute to the dangers facing sex workers.