Greg MacDougall interviews sex workers rights advocates at the 2011 Women’s World conference. Interview with Chris Bruckert, Frédérique Chabot and Tuulia Law — of POWER, Students for Sex Worker Rights, and Sex Professionals of Canada. At Women’s Worlds 2011 conference in Ottawa, July 7. http://womensworlds.ca
Google announced last week that they are making the largest-ever corporate donation to “ending modern day slavery”: an impressive $11.5 million dollars. We applaud and support Google’s desire to fight slavery, forced trafficking, and exploitative labor conditions, but Google’s funding recipients include three NGOs that cause serious harm to sex workers around the world: International Justice Mission, Polaris Project, and Not for Sale. As front line sex worker support services struggle for funding to serve their communities, it is offensive to watch Google shower money upon a wealthy faith-based group like the International Justice Mission, which took in nearly $22 million dollars in 2009 alone. (In contrast, the St. James Infirmary, a San Francisco clinic that provides free healthcare to sex workers, operated on only $335k in 2010.)
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 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.
by Melissa Martin
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.
by Andrea Houston
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.
Of the 1,800 ballots sent out to area residents, Wong-Tam says 200 were returned. Of those, 52 percent were opposed to the turn restriction, while 48 percent supported it.
Wong-Tam has decided not to move forward with the restriction, which would have stopped drivers from turning onto Homewood Ave from Wellesley St E between 11pm and 6am.
The go-to perspective on prostitution from many progressives in Canada these days seems to be a fairly hard and fast vote for decriminalization or legalization. Even many of our beloved East Vancouver lefties seem convinced that the most progressive position to take is one of “sex as work,” arguing that debates around prostitution should prioritize labour rights, allowing women to come out from the underground and”‘into the light” as free and autonomous workers.
The gaps in this logic are all at once complex and simple. While I have long been a supporter of labour rights, of unions, and have counted myself as a fighting member of the working class who has waivered somewhere between socialism and Marxism from the moment I understood the concept of class struggle, I’ve found myself suddenly misaligned with some of those with whom I share my end of the political spectrum.