Search About Newsletters Donate
Submitted 11:59 a.m.
Letter to the Editor

I agree that it is not fair for people with so much money to exploit people who don't. But to criminalize the exchange of sex for money is not going to help. ”

Anna Smith of Richmond, British Columbia

I am originally from rural Argentina.

I live in Canada, and I worked on the street in the late 1990's when about fifty women in Vancouver were murdered, many of whom were Aboriginal. In Canada, Aboriginal women are more vulnerable because they are more likely to be poor, discriminated against in general and by customers, hotels, escort agencies and massage parlours, and thus worked the street more often, for less money, and in isolated, industrial areas. The numbers of missing and murdered aboriginal women continues to grow, fueled by poverty. Many women are going missing in northern British Columbia on what is called " The Highway of Tears,” "for the simple reason that there is not adequate, affordable bus service and women are routinely compelled to hitchhike to get anywhere.

Recently, Vancouver Police said that arresting sex workers or their clients is a low priority and they will not intervene unless there is a reason such as a report of violence or endangerment. We are grateful for this, as it is contrary to the program of the federal government that brought in Bill C-36 last year, a law that criminalizes clients, advertising, and any managerial or supportive services.

I question the belief that the Nordic Model helps those victimized by the sex trade. Since the Nordic Method has been implemented in Canada, sex work has not slowed down. The same people seem to still be working, but some workers have been forced to tolerate more difficult conditions and humiliating mass arrests by the police. The government said it would put millions of dollars into programs to help individuals leave the sex trade. My one experience participating in such a program was that it was hastily slapped together, providing cheap unpalatable sandwiches and humiliating self esteem workshops and it made me want to rush out and make some money and buy some decent healthy food. The sex workers I know have not seen a dime of these retraining funds, there has been no practical help and apparently much of this money is going to the police!

I agree that it is not fair for people with so much money to exploit people who don't. But to criminalize the exchange of sex for money is not going to help. It will just create more hungry children and more criminals, fodder for the prison and social work industries.

It would be better for everybody to consider the real causes of injustice and the societal structure of economic abuse: start with abolishing credit cards, raising the minimum wage, and expanding the social service safety net. As long as the gulf between rich and poor continues to grow, and with all the wars and environmental chaos, people will do what they must to survive and to take care of their families.

These letters written in response to