Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Support for Living In Community

This is a project that has brought together residents, business owners, police, and sex workers to work on solutions to how sex work impacts neighbourhoods. The Province newspaper is asking for people to write letters on what they think of the recommendations that came out of the report.

One of their own reporters has already published a derogatory opinion piece in today's paper about the report. Please take the time to read the report yourself and feel free to read my blog piece on safe work spaces for sex workers, then write in with your support.

I'm sure there will be plenty of naysayers who do not understand enough to know better. But if we are truly going to make the streets safer for sex workers, we need community support for initiatives that will finally make a difference.

Here is the letter I sent:

Dear Editor:

Re: Prostitution report hides human tragedy in politically correct lingo, June 5, 2007

Alan Ferguson is a journalistic disappointment. Instead of being the voice of the people as all good reporters should be, he blatantly shows his ignorance of the issues he’s writing about.

A “multi-stakeholder co-operative to provide safe, indoor workspaces” for sex workers is exactly that – a safe sex work space created under a co-operative model to ensure that all decisions about the business, which would be run under the business license of a massage parlour, are made collectively among the men, women, and transgendered sex workers who access and contribute to the space.

It would reduce the vulnerability of sex workers who currently provide services in alleys, cars, or wherever their customers take them. It would also create an option for indoor workers who are exploited by agency owners.

If Ferguson knew how much the average massage parlour brings in, he might not balk at the possibilities a sex worker cooperative could create for its members and for sex worker initiatives in general.

Ferguson dismisses the idea that residents and business owners’ assault sex workers. He obviously didn’t research his subject very well. I know one woman who lost her ear to someone driving by and throwing a beer bottle at her in broad daylight.

He suggests we follow the Swedish model of criminalizing the buyers of sex. Tell me exactly how taking away all their customers will help sex workers? In reality, it makes them more financially desperate and therefore more vulnerable to violence.

The real human tragedy is in how so many people who don’t know anything about the reality of sex work behave as if they know it all. Meanwhile, women are being murdered. A safe sex work space that is run under a cooperative model is the best solution we have. Don’t slam it when you don’t even have all the facts.

provletters@png.canwest.com or by fax to 604-605-2223. Please include your name and address.

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