Archive | January 2012

Q&A with Lindsay, a sex worker and Human Library participant

By Victoria Abraham

Lindsay is a sex worker who participated as a Book in the Human Library project put on by the Ottawa Public Library, the Canadian War Museum, and CBC Ottawa on Saturday, January 28.  Lindsay is currently working on an undergraduate degree in Women’s Studies at the University of Ottawa and holds an undergraduate degree in archeology and the classics from Wilfrid Laurier University. 

Why did you choose to be part of the Human Library project?
I am big on breaking stereotypes. Anything that I can do to change people’s minds [about stereotypes] is moving in the right direction.

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Sex workers want an end to street sweeps by police

Tactic puts women at greater risk, advocate group says

BY CANDICE SO, OTTAWA CITIZEN WITH FILES FROM ZEV SINGER JANUARY 24, 2012

A coalition representing local sex trade workers is urging Ottawa police to stop cracking down on prostitutes in monthly sting operations.

The group’s open letter to police was sent in response to the warning Chief Vern White issued in December, saying investigators had detected a pattern in the deaths of a number of sex trade workers. The police also issued a safety advisory, advising sex workers to work in teams and to avoid isolated areas.

But the coalition, which is made up of six local groups, says this advice only exposes sex workers as obvious targets for arrest. They’re especially afraid of being caught in a street sweep, an undercover operation where officers start conversations with prostitutes, only to arrest them once an offer of sex for money is made.

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D.C. Gay Activists Fighting Prostitution-Free Zone Bill

By: Armando Trull // January 24, 2012
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A sign designating an area of downtown D.C. as a prostitution-free zone.
A sign designating an area of downtown D.C. as a prostitution-free zone.

A controversial bill that would allow the city’s police chief to set up permanent prostitution-free zones will be taken up this morning by the D.C. Council. The bill lets police detain and arrest people suspected of engaging in street prostitution. Some of city’s gay activists are planning to fight the measure.

Transgender rights activists say the proposal to establish permanent prostitution free zones in the District is a thinly veiled attempt to drive transgendered women out of neighborhoods, regardless of whether they are sex workers or not. Currently, the Metropolitan Police Department can only set up a temporary zone that lasts 10 days.

Activists made a video this week to raise awareness of the bill and are planning to fight the legislation. Rubi Corrado is one of those activists. “These police officers are going ot have to make a choice, to address and arrest young individuals that are on the street trying to survive, or addressing real criminals, seasoned criminals,” Corrado said.

Yvette Alexander, the Ward 7 Council member who authored the bill, says prostitution is running rampant in some neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River.

“We’re thinking either you make a decision, if there are going to be these prostitution free zones, then that’s my cue that I need to get out of the prostitution business,” Alexander said.

Some Council members believe the measure may be unconstitutional because the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down anti-loitering laws.

Prostitution Free Zone from PJ Starr on Vimeo.

http://wamu.org/news/12/01/24/dc_gay_activists_fighting_prostitution_free_zone_bill

Journey to the Supreme Court

Yesterday was the culmination of a pretty amazing journey for me. I sat in the front row at the Supreme Court of Canada as the as the federal government tried to persuade the country’s top court that Sheri Kiselbach, a former sex worker with 30 years of experience and Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV), a non-profit organization run by and for street-based sex workers in the Downtown Eastside, do not have standing to challenge the laws related to adult prostitution because they are not directly affected. Among the people sitting with me wereSheri and DJ. DJ is a member of SWUAV and has been involved with Pivot since we first started looking at the issue of sex workers’ safety ten years ago.

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Sex worker group argues before Supreme Court

NATIONAL NEWS / Ottawa sex workers join BC representatives in bid for safer streets
Luna Allison / Ottawa / Friday, January 20, 2012
Representatives for Vancouver sex workers argued before the Supreme Court of Canada on Jan 19 that a constitutional challenge to Canada’s sex work laws should be allowed to proceed.
The Court must now decide whether the Downtown Eastside Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) meet the legal requirements for representation in the case, called public interest standing.

Sex-trade workers make their case in top court

By Meagan Fitzpatrick

Lawyers for the federal government and a group of Vancouver sex-trade workers were in Canada’s top court on Thursday to argue the validity of an attempted constitutional challenge to prostitution laws.

Members of the sex-trade community and their supporters rallied outside the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa following the hearing.

They said they were proud to be arguing before the country’s top court and to have the opportunity to tell the justices about the rights violations they say sex-trade workers encounter every day.

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