Tag Archive | news

Prostitution sweeps on hold since December

Move followed announcement of ‘pattern’ in homicides


Ottawa police have not conducted any prostitution sweeps since Chief Vern White’s announced in December that a “pattern” had been identified in a number of unsolved murders of prostitutes.

Since Dec. 9, when White warned the city’s sex workers to take precautions because of a potential threat – police have been loath to use the word “serial killer,” but the link between killings is ominous – advocacy groups have been calling for a moratorium on prostitution sweeps.

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Community groups seek legal advice on prostitution sweeps

Ottawa police refuse request for moratorium on sweeps while they probe possible predator

Six community groups are seeking legal advice after Ottawa police Chief Vern White last week refused their request for a moratorium on prostitution sweeps.
Bryonie Baxter, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, said a consortium of local groups met with police Feb. 8 to argue that sweeps put sex workers at risk by forcing them into remote areas away from circles of support.
Bryonie Baxter, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, said a consortium of local groups met with police Feb. 8 to argue that sweeps put sex workers at risk by forcing them into remote areas away from circles of support.(CBC)

“We asked Chief Vern White to prioritize women’s safety by putting the risk to the lives of sex workers over nuisance complaints during a time which he has identified poses heightened risk to sex workers,” said Bryonie Baxter, executive director of the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, in a press release. “We are effectively asking the police to take one operational tool out of their toolbox and we in turn offered to work with police and concerned citizens to effect longer-term solutions to their concerns.”

On Tuesday, Insp. Uday Jaswal told CBC News the police force can’t choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore. Jaswal said prostitution sweeps will continue and he added that police remain committed to discussing the issue.

In a meeting with police on Feb. 8, Baxter said the group argued that sweeps put sex workers at risk by forcing them into more remote areas away from circles of support.

Their request came two months after White issued a warning that police had discovered a pattern in unsolved assaults and homicides on sex workers in Ottawa.

“We believe the Ottawa police owe a duty of care to sex workers which extends beyond merely warning them about the existence of a predator,” Baxter said. “It also involves proactively working to eliminate practices which increase the risk of harm to this group of women.”

The six groups include the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, POWER (Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate, Resist), the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Ottawa (SASC), Families of Sisters in Spirit and the AIDS Committee of Ottawa.


Ottawa police warn sex-trade workers after finding pattern in unsolved murders

OTTAWA— The Canadian Press Published Friday, Dec. 09, 2011

Women working in the sex trade in Ottawa are being warned by the city’s top cop to watch out for their safety.

Chief Vern White issued the warning Friday, saying police have found a pattern in unsolved homicides in Ottawa involving sex trade workers.

Police aren’t saying how many homicides have been linked, what the pattern is or how far back it goes. But they’ve confirmed a link and they want the community to know, Chief White said.

All women, especially those who work in the sex trade, should “be vigilant and exercise good safety practices,” he added.

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Elena Reynaga: Sex work is a service, so why can’t we have rights?

Prostitutes in Argentina are taking an unprecedented step – calling for a charity that represents them to be given full union status. As World Aids Day approaches, Metro speaks to the woman behind the move…

Elena Reynaga, prostitute, sex worker

‘I’m not ashamed. I’m truly proud of what I do,’ says Elena Reynaga. ‘Through my work, I created possibilities for my children, opportunities I didn’t have myself. My children went to school, got jobs. I have nothing to be ashamed of.’

Reynaga was a prostitute who spent the 30 years since she turned 19 working in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. She has now left the streets behind to lead Redtrasex (Latin American and Caribbean Sex Workers Network) and Ammar (Female Sex Workers’ Association of Argentina).

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Hooker’s sentence ‘outrageous’: Lawyer

BARRIE – Local lawyer Angela McLeod is speaking out after a client got significant jail time for prostitution charges.

By Janis Ramsay Nov 29, 2011 – 6:00 AM

McLeod can’t understand why a nine-month sentence was handed down when the legality of prostitution is under question. In September, a Superior Court judge said there was a problem with the law banning sex trade workers from soliciting clients. Justice Susan Himel struck down the law for safety reasons, but an appeal on the future legality of prostitution hasn’t been resolved. Barrie police Chief Mark Neelin said at the time that officers would continue to monitor the streets for illegal activity. And they’ve kept to that. A sweep was undertaken downtown in late September after residents complained.

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Vulnerable witnesses to be shielded at Pickton inquiry

Squamish Nation elder Eugene Harry, right, blesses the Missing Women Inquiry headed byWally Oppal as it got underway Tuesday in Federal Court in Vancouver.

Squamish Nation elder Eugene Harry, right, blesses the Missing Women Inquiry headed

by Wally Oppal as it got underway Tuesday in Federal Court in Vancouver.

VANCOUVER — Vulnerable witnesses, including some who may have witnessed events at the B.C. farm of serial killer Robert Pickton, will be able to give evidence in sworn documents instead of testifying at a Vancouver inquiry.

The names of the potential witnesses — some of whom the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry has been told fear reprisals by pimps, drug dealers, other sex workers and even police officers — will be banned from publication.

Commissioner Wally Oppal, a former judge, made that ruling on Thursday morning, following Wednesday’s application by lawyer Jason Gratl for special arrangements at the inquiry to protect sex workers by banning their names and allowing them to testify by affidavit.

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Activist looks to bring plight of deadly sex trade to UN

by Caroline Zentner, Lethbridge Herald

The hundreds of murdered and missing women who have worked in the sex trade to survive inspired a Vancouver woman to work towards nationwide change.
Jennifer Allan, a First Nations human rights and sex worker activist, knows the dangers these women face firsthand. At 18, she became involved in the sex trade to escape violence and addiction at home and had been sexually exploited as a child. Her pimps moved her to Alberta where she worked for various madams. Then she got a criminal record for assaulting a police officer and was unable to work as an escort anymore because she couldn’t get a licence. She also couldn’t work at other jobs she had experience doing such as security and telemarketing. That forced her to work on the street.

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Majority of UK Sex Workers Not Forced or Trafficked, Says Report

By IBTimes staff Reporter | November 1, 2011 7:23 AM GMT

In a shocking revelation, the large majority of interviewed migrant workers in the British sex industry are not forced or trafficked, suggests a report.

The International Union of Sex Workers warmly welcomes the publication of “Migrant Workers in the UK Sex Industry” by Dr. Nick Mai

This is the largest ever qualitative research into the experience of migrants selling sexual services inLondon, and reports suggests that immigration status is by far the single most important factor restricting their ability to exercise their rights in their professional and private lives.

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Sex worker says police did nothing after she was raped by Pickton (updated)

Susan Davis walks out of Federal Court in Vancouver Oct. 31 after testifying at Missing Women Commission of Inquiry. 

By Suzanne Fournier, The Province November 1, 2011

A sex worker testified at the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry on Monday that she tried three times to get Vancouver police to investigate her complaint of violent rape by the man she now believes was serial killer Robert Pickton.

Susan Davis, 43, said the fact that the VPD failed to follow up on her report of a sexual assault at knifepoint was a “major life-altering event” that forever undermined her trust in police.

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No interest from cops over missing sex workers: inquiry

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER — A woman who helped run a Vancouver drop-in centre for sex workers says she reported one of serial killer Robert Pickton’s victims missing, but believes she was lied to when an officer told her the woman was in rehab.

Elaine Allan, who ran the WISH drop-in centre from 1998 to 2001, told an inquiry into the Pickton case that she doesn’t believe Tiffany Drew was ever in rehab.

Instead, Allan said she thinks she was lied to by a police force that was dismissive and uninterested in reports that sex workers were vanishing at alarming rates from the city’s Downtown Eastside.

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