Prostitution - Framing the Debate for Decriminalization

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Infosaturated
Prostitution - Framing the Debate for Decriminalization

Is this a fair representation?

Sex Workers in this context refers solely to what is commonly referred to as prostitution. Sex Workers use the term to indicate that they have willingly chosen their profession.

Prostitutes, in this context refers to women who do not want to be prostitutes but were forced into it through physical violence, coercion, or poverty.

The three arguments for and against decriminalization are based on:  worker safety, worker rights and personal freedom. 

1) Safety, decriminalization could result in either greater or lessor safety.

Safety, meaning physical harm, rape, assault, unsafe sexual practices, physical coercion, forced trafficking, child prostitution.

2) Individual worker rights versus the collective right of women to be protected from exploitation.

Worker rights include UIC, pensions, etc. but also the right to be protected from exploitation. "Voluntary" migrant workers fall under this category as does economic coercion and luring under false pretenses like exagerating the amount of money to be made.

3) Freedom of the individual versus community rights to control environment through barring harmful practices.

Communities can be negatively impacted by criminal elements, citizens being accosted on the street, condoms and needles strewn about and a repellant atmosphere.  Linked to this is the more ideological argument of promoting equality, respect for women and Canada's image in the world. Do we want sex tourism?

Proponents of full decriminalization believe that harmful and exploitative practices can be handled through existing laws against rape, assault, kidnapping, forcible confinement, trafficking, etc. Proponents of partial decriminalization contend that despite laws the illegal components rise with legal acceptance of prostitution leading to more trafficking and child prostitution. Also the attitudes towards women that it engenders undermines the ability of women to achieve respect and equality in a broader sense.

Each argument can be supported or undermined by outcomes where decriminalization or legalization have occurred. Decriminalization means no red light districts or forced health checks. Legalization means the government controls red light districts, can require registration and health checks.

The Charter challenge is going for full decriminalization, not legalization.

Those opposed want partial decriminalization. Prostitutes and sex workers would never be arrested.

New Zealand is held up as the ideal model for full decriminalization. Sweden is held up as the ideal model for partial decriminalization. There are many other countries with varied forms of legalization. Each of the examples has to be viewed in the context that Canada is a different country therefore outcomes won't necessarily be exactly the same here.

New Zealand is right next to Australia where prostitution is legalized. Canada shares a border with the United States. Sweden believes strongly in affirmative action for women. It is their contention that left to the marketplace it would take another 100 years for women to achieve equality. Canada is less willing to actively pursue equality for women leaving it up to the individual.

Australia, Germany, and others went with legalization which the sex workers in Canada don't want so they consider the experiences of those countries inapplicable.  Given that there is only one example of decriminalization, which isn't that different from legalization, I don't Opponents think the experiences of these other countries can't be so easily dismissed especially as Canada might choose legalization rather than decriminalization. Therefore it is valid to examine information from these countries too.

Lee Lakeman

Great summary on the whole but I am confused by the last paragraph.  Was that just a typo?.

martin dufresne

When you factor in the municipal by-laws and licensing schemes that inevitably come to frame the exercise of prostitution - can't bother the rich in their comfy residential areas now, there are zones for that kind of pleasures -, there aren't that many differences between decriminalization and legalization, although some people make a great deal of them to rally anti-State liber... I dare not utter the word...

A much more important distinction that ought to be featured in framing this debate is what and whom gets decriminalized.

It is absolutely NOT the same thing, for instance to decriminalize soliciting by prostituted folks - a reform that abolitionists wholeheartedly support, in solidarity with them - and to attempt decriminalizing the practice of pimps ("bodyguards"), brothel-owners ("entrepreneurs"), traffickers ("travel agents") and soliciting by johns (looking for a very short term "Girl Friend Experience").

Indeed, to merely speak of decriminalization (or "decrim") undifferentiated is missing the point of prostitution and equivalent to disinformation.

Infosaturated

martin dufresne wrote:
It is absolutely NOT the same thing, for instance to decriminalize soliciting by prostituted folks - which abolitionists wholeheartedly support, in solidarity with them - and to decriminalize the practice of pimps ("bodyguards"), brothel-owners ("entrepreneurs"), traffickers ("travel agents") and soliciting by johns (looking for a very short term "Girl Friend Experience").

Indeed, to merely speak of decriminalization (or "decrim") undifferentiated is missing the point of prostitution and equivalent to disinformation.

Yes I did make a typo in the last paragraph. 

I agree about the misleading "decrim" term. In reading message boards attached to newspaper website it's clear to me that many Canadians think decrim either applies just to the sex worker/prostitutes, or assume that it would result in red light destricts and health checks, not brothels next door.  If they knew that it meant a couple of sex-workers could move in next door and they could end up sharing the elevator with johns their point of view would change dramatically.

This charter challenge is taking a big gamble.  I'm not satisfied with the status quo, and I am not satisfied with just decriminalizing solicitation.  I want the "body rub" shops closed.  A brothel by any other name is still a brothel. Strengthening the laws against johns and pimps would be a move in that direction. I really hope this challenge backfires on them.

I don't buy the "short-term girlfriend experience" line either.  Why are people falling for the "pretty woman" version of prostitution as the norm?

susan davis

YOU want body rub parlours closed, after all...it IS all about you info......i really hope you understand the laws WILL fall, all sides i terstimony i have read from the challenge agree the current legal framework is causing harm.we already live next door to you and you see our clients everyday. they are your co workers, sons. brothers,fathers.......

falling for it, why are you falling for all the tired old rhetoric being perpeuated about us all being trafficked and abused? i provide link after link to support my claims while you allow your fear of the unknown to rule your opinions on this issue. did you not read the articles i posted from the UK? 900 brothel raids and not one person found to be trafficked during those operations? the only charges resulting stemed from outside actions not related to anti trafficking initiatives. i would say that seriously challenges your assertions, excuse me, opinion that we are all trafficked victims of merciless men.

i really can't believe your othering sex workers as if we need to be seperated out of society. hey, maybe we could build some camps and round us all up!then we could sterilize us all so we didn't make any bastard babies and maybe even do some medical testing or pschological experiments to try to show us how abused we were as sex workers....maybe then, once broken/reformed, we could be trusted to re enter society! maybe then it would be ok for a sex worker to live next door.

exclusionism seems to be more your political position on sex work info saturated, exclude, isolate and abolish/eliminate.....sounds very familiar......

susan davis

you talk about street disorder associated with street level sex work, would it not be diminished by workers being able to dispose of condoms safely? the needle mess in the DTES has been seriously diminished by the implementation of the safe injection site...

street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess were all reasons the coop brothel project won public support. it would adress concerns on bothe sides of the situation. workers would be safe and able to wash after, communities would be less impacted by condom mess, public sex acts,etc...

susan davis

martin dufresne wrote:

Indeed, to merely speak of decriminalization (or "decrim") undifferentiated is missing the point of prostitution and equivalent to disinformation.

funny to hear you speak of dis information...is that different from the mis information abolitionists like to promote?

martin dufresne

...street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess...

This rhetoric shines a light on the very real exclusionism being used to promote the creation of legitimized brothels, i.e. giving the cops legitimacy to come down hard on street prostitutes.

 

susan davis

excuse me?never was that a part of our plan, VPD rarely charge workers on the street.....and rarely are the bath houses raided either,,,,i never advocated against street sex workers, i am directed by street sex workers, and others from other areas of the industry....

it is a direct quote from the www.livingincommunity.ca action plan and came from residents and business owners in areas affected by the street disorder associated with the street level sex trade.

so martin, now i am not a pimp/ trafficker promoter/lobbyist but working with police to harm street workers.....i see....

 

martin dufresne

Backtracking, eh?... you could also edit out post #5 where you unequivocally state: "street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess were all reasons the coop brothel project won public support."

Tehanu

Infosaturated, in the [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/feminism/sex-workers-voices]last thread[/url], presumably referring to my post [url=http://rabble.ca/babble/feminism/dominant-culture-feminism-drowning-out-..., you said this:

Quote:
Tahanu stated that violent pornography, child sex abuse and prostitution were outcomes of a repressive society. I'm just using her terminology not "being smoooooth".

I did not say that. I did not even remotely say that. I said that some sex-positive feminists thought that such things (as well as homophobia) could be symptoms of an unhealthy and repressive attitude towards sex. And that was in the context of a much more comprehensive post about sex positivity, responding to a specific statement by Martin about "sex-positive" being a libertarian term.

I also said that feminist thought around sex-positivity was complex and worth exploring, and that I agreed with a lot of it, but not all of it.

Misrepresentation and quoting out of context are tacky debating tactics.

Ironically, later in the very same post, you said:

Quote:
I don't expect you to agree with me but I do require you to treat me respectfully and to refrain from putting words in my mouth or thoughts in my mind. I am fully capable of expressing myself.

Practice what you preach.

It's Tehanu, by the way.

susan davis

martin dufresne wrote:

Backtracking, eh?... you could also edit out post #5 where you unequivocally state: "street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess were all reasons the coop brothel project won public support."

i am not back tracking, that statement is directly from the living in community action plan as concerns from business owners and residents in neighbourhoods impacted by street level sex work.....i have only posted the link about 10 times...did you ever bother to read what vancouverites felt was the most balanced action plan to stabilize sex work ad community safety?

are you running out of ways to try to bait me?i never go back and edit my posts. exactly how am i back tracking? i don't like the inference that i am underhanded or somehow working withpimps or traffickers police to harm street level sex workers. i have consistently stated my position but you still try to manipulate my words to suit your own posistion and cast me as an enemy of sex workers.

please provide links to support your assertions of me "back tracking" or editing my posts........

Infosaturated

Hit on a couple more things that may need clarification for some people:

Willingness and trafficking.

Trafficking can be defined several ways but this is the strictest interpretation:

Trafficking Protocol expressly permits states to focus only on forced prostitution and other crimes involving force or coercion and does not require governments to treat all adult participation in prostitution as trafficking.

Coercion includes debt bondage, removal of passports on arrival etc.

A less strict interpetation includes illegal migrants who have paid a smuggler to transport them particularly if the smuggler is delivering them to a brothel.

The interpretation used varies by government and trafficking can also refer to people being moved within a country.

Visa workers imported specifically for sex work can be considered trafficked particularly if deception was used concerning job requirements. Some are also kept in debt bondage. A Visa worker in Canada cannot change jobs, cannot apply for citizenship, and is sent back after 2 years leaving them very vulnerable to demands.

NGOs will often use the broader interpretation as smugglers are seen as exploiting the desperation of illegal migrants particularly if they are being moved for a particular purpose, for example to stock a brothel. NGOs may consider Visa workers trafficked if once they are here job descriptions are changed because their options are severely limited.

Illegal migrants are not trafficked but as they have to live under the radar they can be trapped into various forms of exploitative work. Refugees may also be under excessive pressure.

Legal immigrants can be drawn into the trade due to lack of options then trapped due to misinformation.

In all of the cases above inability to speak English can result in workers being virtually trapped. They don't know their rights in Canada so whomever is managing them can manipulate them through lies.  For example, telling them they will get 10 years in jail if the police find out what they are doing.

With the exception of legal immigrants and refugees the other migrants are subject to deportation which they may consider worse than the conditions where ever they are from.  People back home can be depending on them to send money too.

Lastly, there are legal immigrants which may be willing to be doing the work they do as an alternative to poverty.

Defining "willing" in this context is troublesome.  Supporters of full decriminalization such as exists in New Zealand will refer to anyone who isn't being physically forced as willing.  Those who support limited decriminalization such as exists in Sweden will define anyone who says they would do something else if they could as unwilling.

Views concerning immigration, migrant labor, racism, definition of economic coercion can all affect how someone defines "willing" vis a vis migration.

Pretty much everyone is against minors being used in prostitution. But what happens when they turn 18? Are addicted drug users really "willing"? Are they truely willing given that they have been streamed into prostitution and don't know anything else?  High numbers suffer from PTSD and have such battered self-esteem that they don't consider themselves capable of doing a different job. What if they are doing it because welfare doesn't cover food?

Trying to determine what percentage of women are genuinely willing sex workers is highly problamatic.

 

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:
YOU want body rub parlours closed, after all...it IS all about you info...

I want them closed because I believe that they are harmful to women.

Lee Lakeman

Lets be clear, The Living in Community Report was a project for which you applied for money from the harm reduction folks at Vancouver City hall in those days, in which you personally were hired, paid and in which you defined prostitution, sex trade, indoor and outdoor and in which you told the community what to think and do about prostitution particularly street prostitution in thier neighbourhoods.   I am happy you got work and happy you enjoyed it but you ought not to then pretend it is another independent source that somehow backs up your opinion. 

When that booklet was taken back to the community for "consultation" we abolitionists organized ourselves to every single neighbourhood in which the forums were held.  We being women living in those neighbourhoods.  So I know that there was no neighbourhood where your arguement to punish street entrenched prostitutes and to accept in fact push women indoors was not rejected as a solution.  Nevertheless no opposition appears in any of your reports.  

 

Infosaturated

Tehanu wrote:
Quote:
I don't expect you to agree with me but I do require you to treat me respectfully and to refrain from putting words in my mouth or thoughts in my mind. I am fully capable of expressing myself.

Practice what you preach.

It's Tehanu, by the way.

My apologies, I got carried away with the back and forth with Snert.  I don't want to get into it here because I am hoping for a thread that will help us all recognize each other's perspective.

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:
street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess were all reasons the coop brothel project won public support. it would adress concerns on bothe sides of the situation. workers would be safe and able to wash after, communities would be less impacted by condom mess, public sex acts,etc...

Decriminalization has failed to reduce the number of street workers in New Zealand.  The problems I mentioned are complaints that communities have in New Zealand as a result of full decriminalization. Because there are no red light districts workers ply their trade whereever they choose to therefore a coop is not a solution.

Currently there is nothing standing in the way of your Vancouver coop other than money so it has nothing to do with decriminalization as far as I can tell.

susan davis

Lee Lakeman wrote:

Lets be clear, The Living in Community Report was a project for which you applied for money from the harm reduction folks at Vancouver City hall in those days, in which you personally were hired, paid and in which you defined prostitution, sex trade, indoor and outdoor and in which you told the community what to think and do about prostitution particularly street prostitution in thier neighbourhoods.   I am happy you got work and happy you enjoyed it but you ought not to then pretend it is another independent source that somehow backs up your opinion. 

When that booklet was taken back to the community for "consultation" we abolitionists organized ourselves to every single neighbourhood in which the forums were held.  We being women living in those neighbourhoods.  So I know that there was no neighbourhood where your arguement to punish street entrenched prostitutes and to accept in fact push women indoors was not rejected as a solution.  Nevertheless no opposition appears in any of your reports.  

 

i was not hired by living in community, i was not paid, i did not get a job.... i am an active sex worker funded by working on my back....i never suggested we push workers indoors. i have repeatedly stated we will not be rounding any workers up or making them line up a la vegas style brothel. we are interested in the rooms by the hour model which seems to meet the needs of street level sex workers and sex workers working as escorts but who do not have a place where they can work independently. read the thread fer christs sakes.

it is a completely independent source and does back me up. we are supported in actions for our coop and industry association as well as by law revisions.....

i like how you try to diminsh this reports findings though....by trying to imply i coordinated or was paid in anyway shape or form...or as if it is as politicized as reports put forward by your group....i had no control over the outcome, i did not write it, it is based on what people in vancouver feel is the best way to proceed having been given all the facts.

lisa gibson was the coordinator and was hired by committee. i went to a few dialougues and don't remember ever seeing rape relief, awan or expals.....perhaps you were there, but public suport in the final plans shows your opinion is not the majority. the living in community steering committee has been awarded implementation funding for this plan and it will be moving ahead in the next few months, i have already had conversations with city coucil members and the socail planning department for the city of vancouver in regards to implementation.

hardly the insignificant project you make it out to be and seem to be claiming you had a hand in stopping....it IS being implemented, by the city of vancouver and in partnership with sex workers,police services, sex worker support services, health services, business improvement associations and residents groups.

it is not a bc coalition activity or a sex worker coop activity, it is and action plan designed in partnership with all vancouverites and funded by the vancouver agreement, so all three levels of government. it was $250,000.00 and is the most balanced plan i have seen to date.

luckily, public service employees and government in vancouver are not so easily mis lead by such politicized views of sex work.

what booklet?...are you talking about the community initiated health and safety tool kit developed by sex workers who were hired by the living in community steering committee?

you should really try to become familiar with our work and what we are involved in before making yourself look foolish...

to be clear, i was not the coordinator of living in community and never was paid and have been on the steering committee with BIA's, residents groups, sex worker support service, health services, police service, city staff since it's beginnings.

ms lakeman, do not lie about me or my work. my resume is posted for everyone to see. i d not appreciate you iplying i will punish sex workers and round people up...i never have advocated for anything of the sort.

living in community is an independent of us report n which we did not get to define sex work, etc but were INCLUDED as were all community members.it does support my position.

 

susan davis

Infosaturated wrote:

susan davis wrote:
street disorder, unwanted attention from customers towards non sex working women, sex in public and the condom mess were all reasons the coop brothel project won public support. it would adress concerns on bothe sides of the situation. workers would be safe and able to wash after, communities would be less impacted by condom mess, public sex acts,etc...

Decriminalization has failed to reduce the number of street workers in New Zealand.  The problems I mentioned are complaints that communities have in New Zealand as a result of full decriminalization. Because there are no red light districts workers ply their trade whereever they choose to therefore a coop is not a solution.

Currently there is nothing standing in the way of your Vancouver coop other than money so it has nothing to do with decriminalization as far as I can tell.

it is related to safety for workers, period. decrim is another discussion. how is a coop not a solution? did you even read our plans? if workers had somewhere they could safely meet clients-ie have security, panic buttons etc. it would be safer than CRAB park....no security, no toilet....

i want to be decrimed and have my home decrimed and my life and savings decrimed....wouldn't you? it has stabilized violence against workers i new zealand....god ...round and round we go.......

susan davis

Prostitution and trafficking - the anatomy of a moral panic

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated

 

There is something familiar about the tide of misinformation which has swept through the subject of sex trafficking in the UK: it flows through exactly the same channels as the now notorious torrent about Saddam Hussein's weapons.

In the story of UK sex trafficking, the conclusions of academics who study the sex trade have been subjected to the same treatment as the restrained reports of intelligence analysts who studied Iraqi weapons - stripped of caution, stretched to their most alarming possible meaning and tossed into the public domain. There, they have been picked up by the media who have stretched them even further in stories which have then been treated as reliable sources by politicians, who in turn provided quotes for more misleading stories.

 

JMartin

I've not learned how to post links yet on rabble (the traditional copy/paste technique doesn't work) so please excuse my lack of links. I'll try to fill people in with the articles I may mention by giving the full name and author. If someone would enlighten me on how to post links on rabble I would love to provide more credible sourcing. 

I appreciate infosaturated's concern about exploited children becoming "choice sex-workers" upon the age of eighteen. I recently attended a conference where a UBC law professor who specialized in youth exploitation (not Perrin or Benedet for anyone keeping track) stated that the average age of entry into prostitution for Canadian females is fourteen. She also stated that the average age is several years lower for aboriginal youth. 

It is disturbing to me that a matter of passing seconds can distinguish between "exploitation" and "choice". I should clarify that I do not and would not deny the existence of women who enter the sex-industry after the age of eighteen but according to this source it appears that this is not the norm.

The other question this speaker asked was whether poverty or limited financial or career options, addiction, etc. should have any bearing on the concept of "consent". Again, I would not say that poverty or addiction are the only climate in which women enter the sex industry. I have met women who have entered the sex-industry after the age of eighteen and state that lack of options was not a factor determining whether or not they entered the sex-industry. I have also met women who considered themselves "choice sex-workers" despite coercion into the industry during their pre-teenage years until they were offered another option (not glamorous options, just a different options) and who now renounce the term. 

I just read an interesting article, "New Study: Migrant sex-workers need better access to health and social services" (not academic, not board-reviewed, not apologizing) on rabble on the needs for social and health resources for "migrant sex-workers". The article admits that the estimates by the RCMP for trafficked women and girls into the  Canadian sex industry are 600-800 per year and that other sources estimate much higher numbers. The article goes on to say that migrant sex-workers are most vulnerable to exploitation because of low language proficiency, having little or no ID and paperwork, and a lack of understanding of the Canadian legal and social system. 

What the article doesn't mention is that little language proficiency, little or no paperwork or ID and little or no understanding of the Canadian legal and social system are glaringly obvious indicators of trafficking. It seems reasonable to suspect that some form of exploitation has already occurred. Is the term "migrant sex-worker" really appropriate for women or children in this category? Does the term sanitize the realities of trafficking within Canadian vernacular? 

...all questions I had on my mind after reading the article. Perhaps people in both abolition and full decriminalization camps could speak to the idea that language frames this debate, whether it sanitizes reality or sensationalizes reality. 

Infosaturated

susan davis wrote:
it is related to safety for workers, period. decrim is another discussion. how is a coop not a solution? did you even read our plans? if workers had somewhere they could safely meet clients-ie have security, panic buttons etc. it would be safer than CRAB park....no security, no toilet....

i want to be decrimed and have my home decrimed and my life and savings decrimed....wouldn't you? it has stabilized violence against workers i new zealand....god ...round and round we go.......

I don't consider stabilizing violence a solution. I want to eliminate the violence. With regards to street prostitution the Sweden model accomplished that.

Are "Living in Community" and the coop idea separate projects?

I care about the problems in Vancouver but I am focused on the effects on the country as a whole. 

Opening up some coops wouldn't even come close to addressing the problem in communities Canada-wide including small towns not just big cities.

 

jas

Just following the arguments from the previous threads, and forgive me if this has been brought up before, and if it is thread drift, but I question the cafe idea as a viable business model to help those who want to get off the street. For one thing, how may full time jobs can a cafe offer? What kind of liveable wages can it offer? And in cafe-saturated Vancouver, in what way would this concept be financially viable? Cafes and restaurants are some of the quickest businesses to fail and are the hardest businesses to get backing for.

Of course, everyone loves cafes and the idea of a co-operatively run cafe, and I do too. It just doesn't sound realistic to me, and I question whether it is a genuine goal of your group, given that there are probably a number of other business ideas that might actually meet your stated goals.

 

susan davis

read my post above yours, support agnecies we know who go into migrant sex worker venues tell us their membership do not identify as trafficked.

as for all your concerns about lack of knowledge about rights and canadisn law are justified however.
during our Trade Secrets project, almost complete we held a focus group with a group of migrant sex workers of asian descent. we ask them wat sort of information would be useful to them in the form of occupational health and safety training. immigration law and language accessible information were very high on the list. we have included that information and intend to translate our occupational health and safety training for the sex industry into cantonese,korean,farsi, spanish, french.
i am going to repost our plans for an industry association, industry stability and trasparency. we believe by decriming the sex industry we will be able to bring it out of the shadows and shine a light on unethical business owners.
as follows;
During the "Developing Capacity for Change Project" - CoOp development work shops, workers expressed how a trade association and a branding or certification process could support safer work conditions over all and stabilize the existing safer indoor venues that exist now. The development of occupational health and safety training was also seen as a way to give people entering and in the sex industry the tools to make safe decisions about their work. It was agreed that all stake holders including business owners and consumers should be engaged to contribute to the design of the future of our industry.
Currently a charter challenge is underway to bring down the laws governing sex work. This action will only be successful if as an industry we can prove our ability to self govern and police ourselves. In the next 10 years we must agree to respect each other and treat each other with dignity. This will be an enormous task but an absolutely necessary one none the less. If we cannot demonstrate the ways in which we have traditionally maintained the stability of our industry, the system at large will most likely impose whatever laws it sees fit and we as an industry will be faced with another disaster.
With this in mind, the BCCEW/C set out to engage sex industry workers in beginning the process and determining whether or not there is industry support for such an action and what the structure of such an organization might look like.
Actions / Recommendations
The following actions and recommendations emerged as common themes from dialogue with all stake holders including consumers, business owners and workers.
"Establish a consortium of sex industry stakeholders to develop an Industry Association and negotiate where there are areas of commonality. ie. violence, consumer theft, health and safety, and industry stability."
Relevance

Sex Industry Workers

Stability for the sex industry means jobs and safe places to work. If the industry bands together behind some basic minimum standards, the greater community will no longer be able to attack business owners arbitrarily. This will mean fewer closures of these businesses and more places to work. The systematic vilifying of business owners has lead to the loss of most safe work options for sex industry workers and pushed some workers to chose work options beyond their personal physical boundaries (17 show lounges have closed in the last couple of years and forced some exotic dancers to chose other forms of sex work such as escorting) The minimum standards aspect will mean that workers can distinguish which businesses are good to work for and which may not be. The Industry Association will provide a tool for sex industry workers to make safe decisions about their work.

Sex Industry Business Owners

Stability for the sex industry means a business owner's lively hood and hard work will no longer be subject to uninformed scrutiny by police, license inspectors, and so called "good will" groups promoting the abolition of the sex industry.) History has shown us how the greater community has targeted business owners and cast them as pimps, abusers, traffickers and "organized crime". An Industry Association could de-mystify our industry and advocate on behalf of longstanding businesses that have provided safe and stabile work environments distinguishing them from those who may be of a less honorable cast. New business owners could also be educated on the minimum required standards and insure a level playing field for all.

Sex Industry Consumers

Stability for the sex industry means that consumers will be able to engage sex workers use a business's services secure in the knowledge that they will be treated with dignity and respect and be able to engage in these activities safely. Also, a consumer would be able to support ethical business practices and the businesses that uphold them.

Greater Community outside of Sex Industry

Stability for the sex industry means that the greater community will no longer have to wonder about conditions within the industry or be forced to impose uninformed actions against it. Through development of minimum standards and occupational health and safety training the greater community can be comfortable in the knowledge that sex industry workers are being given the tools to make safe decisions and have safe places to work.

This will remove the burden of sex industry governance from people whose actions have historically (for more than 100 years) had disastrous effects for the safety and quality of life of Vancouver's sex industry workers.

The greater communities concerns are generally centered on the street level sex trade. The public sex acts, violence, unwanted advances from consumers and condom mess reflect the lack of safer indoor jobs in the sex industry. The systematic removal of these safer indoor environments must be halted to stem the number of workers entering the dangerous street level trade. It is hoped that through education and industry stabilization the numbers of sex industry workers working in harmful conditions will dramatically decrease.

"Develop Standardized Health and Safety Training for Sex Industry Workers and consumers in partnership with ALL stakeholders including business owners."
Relevance

Sex Industry Workers

Standardized Health and Safety Training will give sex industry workers clear and concise information about their work. It will give them the tools to make safe decisions about engaging business owners, engaging consumers, safe sex, their emotional health, and about finding support should they need it.

Sex Industry Business Owners

Standardized health and safety training would mean business owners could prove they had provided their employees with the information necessary to work safely. Most business owners do provide training for employees and are very conscious of the safety of their workers. However, they have never been able to demonstrate their attention to this most important aspect of the sex industry. Through a standardized training system developed in partnership with ALL stakeholders (including business owners) these ethical, safe and healthy business practices could be recognized and supported.

Sex Industry Consumers

Standardized health and safety training will also include information for consumers. Because of criminalization, consumers have been cast as somehow dysfunctional, rapists, and perverts. This makes it difficult for them to ask for information about their sexual health and the risks involved with engaging in the sex industry. This will provide consumers the tools to make safe decisions when purchasing sex industry services. Also, consumers engaging sex industry workers or businesses who are members of the industry association can be assured that the workers are well versed in safe and healthy sex work practices.

Greater Community outside of Sex Industry

Standardized health and safety training will allow the greater community to be confident that all sex industry stakeholders have been given the tools they need to protect their health (including exiting and support services), safety and stability while engaging in the sex industry.

"Develop and implement a certification process in partnership with all stakeholders to stabilize and promote sex industry businesses (inclusive of independent workers as businesses). Design an industry association seal or brand to distinguish those businesses that support and have received certification for the negotiated health and safety standards and training."
Relevance

Sex Industry Workers

Developing a certification process in partnership with all stakeholders will allow sex industry workers to insure their concerns and insight are addressed and included. An industry association seal will allow workers to distinguish which businesses support safe work environments and support the minimum negotiated standards.

Sex Industry Business Owners

Developing a certification process in partnership with all stakeholders will allow business owners to insure their concerns and experience are included, that the process is accessible and within reason as far as the operation of sex industry businesses. An industry association seal would allow businesses to distinguish themselves in the market for consumers and potential employees as businesses who support safe work environments and the minimum negotiated standards.

Sex Industry Consumers

The industry association seal will allow consumers to make ethical choices in the sex industry businesses they choose to support.

Greater community outside of Sex Industry

The industry association certification process and industry association seal will allow the greater community to make informed decisions about any actions taken against the sex industry. Blanket assumptions about our industry and the businesses engaged in it from the past have had disastrous results for our industry. The certification and seal will protect those businesses who do support health and safety from being targeted and allow the greater community to support actions in relation to the sex industry from a better informed perspective.

"Design a complaints process and penalty system in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self governance and enforcement for the sex industry."
Relevance

Sex Industry Workers

Sex workers have never had a way to report unethical business owners or dangerous business practices. A balanced system of investigation and penalty would begin to stabilize the health and safety of sex industry workers and eliminate the increasing number of dangerous working environments emerging as a result of our industry being pushed further and further underground.

Sex Industry Business Owners

Sex Industry business owners have also never had a way to complain about industry workers who take advantage of their good business practices or steal clients. This would allow these problems to also face due process and protect business owners from these types of behaviors.

Business owners would also be able to protect themselves from industry workers making false allegations about their business practices.

A process of self governance and enforcement would take these issues out of the hands of the greater community and prevent decisions being made by an outside party with no understanding of our history and traditions. This would mean the police, license inspectors and "end the sex industry" groups would no longer have the power to completely disrupt our lively hoods and jeopardize our safety.

Sex Industry Consumers

Sex industry consumers have never been able to lodge complaints about bad service or business practices except in the on-line forums where "service providers" are reviewed. Offences like being robbed or noticing a worker appears to be too young are difficult to report due to the stigma and close scrutiny an investigation can bring on the consumer himself.

A community based process which ensures the confidentiality of complainants will allow this process to work without harming peoples personal lives and stability.

Greater Community outside of Sex Industry

The greater community has always felt the need to carry the burden of policing our industry. Through this confidential, community based process this will no longer be necessary. Businesses that go beyond what is reasonable (marketing youth, trafficking persons) can be identified and prosecuted without causing widespread de-stabilization of the entire industry.

"Support the formation of craft unions or trade guilds for all aspects or jobs within the sex industry."

The Sex Industry is as diverse as the people who engage in it and encompasses more that actual one on one physical contact sex work. There are many job choices within actual sex work and there are also all of the support positions. This is an Industry and all employees' health, safety, and job security are important. Once the industry is stabilized and self governing different craft or trade guilds could form to support issues specific to different sex industry workers and businesses.

Sex Work Diversity - some of the identified genres of sex work include: Exotic Dancing, Web Cam work, pornography, massage, escorts, male hustlers, phone sex, and on street sex work.

Sex Industry Support Staff - some examples of support staff are: booking girls, djs, waitresses, bartenders, bouncers, camera people, make up people, producers, film editors, computer experts, security guys, drivers, and costume makers.

These work specific guilds could allow dialogue between more experienced and less experienced workers and improve knowledge specific to their individual work. The sharing of knowledge would allow sex industry capacity to increase over all.

The Industry Association could act as a bridge between these craft unions should any issues arise between them and facilitate reasonable negotiation between all sides.

"Establish a system of communications between the sex industry and those agencies who have traditionally had the role of policing or monitoring the industry such as the police, license inspectors and social work/ support agencies to prevent misunderstandings about safety issues within the industry."

These agencies have taken action against the sex industry with disastrous effects in the past. A system through which these actions can be vetted by or scrutinized by the industry itself is necessary to prevent these problems repeating themselves in the future. The lived experiences of sex industry workers, consumers and business owners are key to actions that will have meaningful and sustainable impacts on the safety of the entire community.

Terms of Reference for Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission
Draft 2009
Sex Industry Stakeholder- A person who has experience working within, providing services to, running a business in, or purchasing services/products from the sex industry.

Regional Government Review Board- The sex industry is a matter of concern for all members of Canadian Society. To ensure transparency and accountability in the sex industry the CAEC propose the formation of a review committee to represent the interests of society at large. The CAEC feel that if representatives from criminal justice, health, government and a sex industry community member were to audit and monitor the activities of the CAEC, we will achieve transparency and accountability for within the sex industry.


These Terms of Reference were created to ensure localized organizing in various constituencies across Canada have a common set of goals and processes.
Vision/ Goals:

  • To come together as an industry for the purpose of increased safety and stability for all stakeholders in the sex industry inclusive of workers, support workers, business owners, and consumers.
  • To empower and unify sex industry communities inclusive of all genres and genders to increase the security and stability of the sex industry.
  • To build community relationships, forge partnerships, identify and engage allies, and work with external expertise in pursuit of CAEC goals.
  • To create a community where all sex industry stakeholders are respected and honoured for their experiences. 
  • To improve the occupational health, safety, and capacities of sex industry professionals as employees and contractors within a legitimized profession.
  • To ensure consumers have access to resources, safely engage in sex industry consumption, can maintain discretion, are treated fairly, and have clear choices for ethical purchasing.
  • To protect ethical business owners from arbitrary attacks upon their honour, reputation, and livelihood by law enforcement, former employees, and the system at large.
  • To design a process in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self-governance for the sex industry.
  • To support the formation of craft unions, business improvement associations, consumer groups, and trade guilds, for businesses, consumers, and workers within the sex industry.
  • To ensure transparency and to prevent abuse of Industry Association benefits, CAEC members support the formation of a Regional Government Review Board to ensure ethical industry practices are upheld and the ideals of Canadian Society respected. All CAEC locals and members will allow free access to membership information and proposed activities by the Regional Government Review Board.

     

  • To abolish exploitation of youth or any person forced to engage in or trafficked into the sex industry.

Guiding principles

  • Work towards safety and respect for all sex industry stakeholders regardless of their location within the industry;
  • Ensure the inclusion of diverse communities, perspectives, capacities and expertise from the sex industry;
  • Promote progressive thought, forward thinking, and continual positive exchange for the empowerment and education of sex industry stakeholders and the community at large;
  • Keep harm reduction frameworks at the forefront and work toward social justice and social change to increase quality of life for sex industry stakeholders.

Membership/composition:

  • Members must be active or former sex industry stakeholders, inclusive of but not limited to; street level, bath houses, massage parlours, ads/ internet, dancers, adult film, off street, phone sex, web cam, customers, support staff and business owners.
  • Organizations who provide services for, are run by, or have a vested interest in the sex industry may become members and represent a community of sex workers. The number of members an organization represents will be accepted by CAEC as true and each individual member of that local will have a vote.
  • Members of an organization or local that is a CEAC member will also be expected to sign on to these terms of reference.
  • Locals or organizations who are members of CAEC may define their own membership criteria but only individual members who have signed and accepted CEAC terms of reference may be included/ represented as voting members. Non sex industry stakeholders may NOT join or vote within CAEC
  • Must be 19 years or over;
  • Vouched for by another stakeholder;
  • Members may use a pseudonym or working name on applications.

Confidentiality

  • Events that happen at meetings stay at meetings.
  • Project membership and personal information, identities of members, and their contact information must remain confidential.
  • Industry association locals will hold personal information about members with the national body knowing only the number of members per local.
  • The Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission (and its member groups/ locals) will hold this information in the strictest of confidentiality. No one shall be allowed access to this information unless they can prove a risk to the life or safety of a person. Each local will decide on a case-by-case basis if such a threat exists and if a person may be granted limited access to this information.
  • Intellectual property and details about projects, strategies and plans are not to be shared with outside entities or individuals except when in the form of a communication strategy that has been designed and approved by the members of CAEC.
  • Confidentiality extends even after leaving CAEC and must respect the sex industry stakeholders' rights of movement and the anonymity of those involved.
  • Breach of confidentiality will lead to the immediate revocation of membership from CAEC.
  • For the purposes of Regional Government Review Boards as described above, all information related to CAEC membership and proposed activities will be made available for scrutiny. Members of the Regional Government Review Board will be expected to maintain confidentiality of disclosed information unless it is found to affect the life, health or safety of a person.
  • All existing and new members must sign a confidentiality agreement and sign on to the most current Terms of Reference.

please support transparency and accoutability in the sex industry!!

susan davis

as far as the cafe....cafe doesn't really describe what we are working on.....

 

THE EMPORIUM

West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals

Susan Davis- Development Coordinator

 

 

Our business will be a cooperatively run restaurant. Sex workers expressed that being immersed in a foreign culture (not the street) when trying to adapt to mainstream employment made them feel isolated and outside of the community around them.

 

WCCSIP wish to design in depth business plans for opening and operating a restaurant where sex workers wishing to exit sex work may receive training, build confidence, gain valuable work experience and return to mainstream employment in a way that respects their lived experience, is accessible and provides an alternative source of income.

 

Our plans include not only a sex worker owned and operated restaurant but also include a food manufacturing component, a museum exhibit (already created), retail space to market sex worker fairly traded art and products as well as a stage or diner theater component.

 

The Enterprises

 

The Union Hall/ Theater/ Sex Industry Worker Organizing Space

                                                                                      

Because of stigma and isolation of sex industry workers not only from each other but from main stream community in general, it was agreed that a sex worker owned and controlled location could allow us to begin to come out of the shadows. A physical location where sex workers can meet, share ideas, show case our art, find alternative income sources and begin to heal as a community.

 

The History of Sex Work Project and Museum Exhibit

 

In 2004, a group of sex workers came together in partnership with Simon Fraser University in the hopes of discovering the history of sex work, our history, in the City of Vancouver. How did sex workers contribute to its growth, character and its conception?

 

You can find more information on the history of sex work project by visiting http://www.sfu.ca/community/sexwork.htm.

 

Copies of the book written by project participants may be purchased through the continuing studies department at SFU harbour center. All profits are voted on and controlled by the project participants.

 

Currently the museum exhibit has no permanent home. Project participants agreed that we could permanently install the exhibit in "The Emporium" and that the physical location would work to support the next phase of the project.

 

The Vancouver Police Museum have a historical walking tour known as "Sins of the City" which project participants enjoyed during our exploration of the history of sex work in Vancouver. Members felt sex workers could design their own tour and that the museums exhibit itself could be part of that tour.

 

The writing and production of a play based on the outline defined in our "Building Choices for the Future" presentation is also supported by members of the History of Sex Work Project team as a way to educate and bridge the divides between us and the mainstream community. The group agreed that "The Emporium" would be the home for the historical supper club style performance or diner theater.

 

The Restaurant

 

Ideas stemming from the History of Sex Work Project began discussions about our need to develop a restaurant enterprise.

 

In the past sex worker events such as "Dancer for Cancer" or PACE Society fundraiser "Sexpo" have had to turn to other businesses or venues to host them. Many times fund raising efforts do not meet expectations and generally rely on ticket sales for money. The same is true of sex worker performance art and other art forms, we are forced to rely on other businesses to allow us space to perform or show case our art but never receive a share of profits we generate through food and alcohol sales.

 

It was agreed by WCCSIP members that a sex worker owned restaurant could profit from these events creating much needed funding for other activities and that it would also generate jobs for sex workers wishing to exit the sex industry.

 

 Some workers in the WCCSIP have been sex workers for 44 years and have nothing they could write on a resume. Also, workers reported feeling isolated or outside of mainstream community when trying to adapt to life outside of our industry. A sex worker controlled environment could provide a bridge between the sex industry and mainstream employment through understanding of challenges faced by trauma survivors and the gaining of work experience, confidence and tangible, marketable skills. ie-food safe, servin' it right, super host certification.

 

Chef XXXX , of the XXXX Restaurant (not sharing names of our supporters, i don't want them to be attacked) has committed to working closely with WCCSIP members ad sharing his knowledge and expertise in an on going way as we open and begin operating our restaurant.

 

Exotic Show Lounge

 

Over the past 20 years the City of Vancouver has closed 20 Exotic Show lounges. It is a profitable and highly under represented business in Vancouver. Also, a serious shortage of jobs in this area has forced some exotic dancers to choose sex industry work which falls beyond their emotional boundaries. Ie- escort or massage work.

 

It is our intention to work with exotic dancers and exotic dance businesses to create steady employment for more exotic dancers increasing choices for workers at least part time at "The Emporium".

 

This Portion of the business will be run by Exotic Dancers and in partnership with existing businesses working in this field.

 

Cabaret Nights

 

Already established burlesque or dance company businesses such as "screamin' chicken" and "stiletto storm" have agreed to host events at "The Emporium".

 

Variety Show

 

Many sex workers from varying back grounds and capacities engage in art such as poetry writing, music and photography. A cooperative enterprise encompassing these artists will host events at "the Emporium" and showcase the incredible talents and diversity of sex workers. 

 

Private Parties/Meetings

 

WCCSIP members agreed that the restaurant should be easily sectioned into separate or private areas. Members of WCCSIP are members of many local organizations and groups such as;

 

CAEC- The Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission is a consortium of people who have experience either working within, providing services to, running a business in, or purchasing services/products of the sex industry and agree to work towards the common goals of health, safety and stability in the sex industry

 

BCCEC- The British Columbia Coalition of Experiential Communities (BCCEC) is a consortium of sex worker activists who work to eliminate the oppressive systems and forces that create harm for individuals within the sex industry. We operate under the principle that members commit to creating an environment of inclusion and change.

again, not sharing names of supporters /potential customers to hold meetings in our space.

Safe space for sex workers to meet with each other and those people in charge of our protection will greatly improve the potential for success of future actions related to safety and stability for sex workers.

Most groups have money for food and space for meetings. "The Emporium" will be able to profit as the host for these meetings.

Specialized Product Manufacturing

WCCSIP members agreed that a local approach to food for the restaurant featuring organic meat and produce and in house made sausages, puddin's and smoke house products.

Frank XXXX is a traditional Celtic butcher and has agreed to co-operate in the running of a small manufacturing company in "The Emporium". He has committed to managing the daily operations, purchasing, and sharing his knowledge and experience with sex industry workers and/or their families as employees creating alternative sources of income for those in need of employment opportunities. We will be smoking bacon, sausages and other meats, building fresh gourmet sausages and working with cures and other techniques for making locally grown traditional foods.

Currently the 4 following businesses have committed to carrying our products but we anticipate the number to grow quickly as products such as we will create are difficult to find if you can find them at all;

not sharing that info right now....

Retail Space

Many sex industry workers engage in art other than dancing or performance arts. "The Emporium" will include a retail space for sex industry workers to sell their art collectively. Such art products are T-shirts, painted glass, post cards, stickers, condoms, the History of Sex Work Project Book, corset's, custom dancers blankets, paintings, photography, writing, sex worker created magazines....

WCCSIP members commit to engaging with mainstream artists and bringing them into "The Emporium" to share a little bit of their artistic discipline, techniques and tricks of the trade with sex industry workers. Art is one of the only known treatments for Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and it is our belief that the art generated will be very appealing to consumers and all profits will go to the individual sex worker who created the art.

This will not only be a business at "The Emporium" location but on the internet as well. Supporters all over Canada and the world will be able to support WCCSIP activities by purchasing goods on-line.

this part of the beginings of our business plan. we were not funded so i am working on the plan without funding. a great lady has voluteered to help us and we have a voluteer architect as well...it will be alot easier to try to raise capitol costs if we have a clear and concise plan detailing ourideas around sustainibilty.....

JMartin

Morality as defined by The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language - Morality: The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct. 

I've heard the term "moral panic" used to describe just about everything that isn't full decriminalization of prostitution. It is important to note that no one is without standards of good conduct. Feminists for full decriminalization often have harm reduction and freedom of association and expression as standards of good conduct. Feminists for full decriminalization panic morally at the thought of criminalization or the Nordic Model of prostitution law. 

Feminists for the Nordic Model of Law have the collective right of women and children to live free of sex-discrimination as part of their standards of good conduct. Feminists for the Nordic Model of Law panic morally at the thought of full criminalization or full decriminalization. 

Those who fight for any kind of human right can be accused of "moral panic". 

It is important to specify who's standards of right or good conduct we are referring to and what those standards are and where they come from if we are going to use the term "moral panic". 

I would prefer if we could specify the term "morality" rather than using it as synonymous with individuals or groups who subscribe to a certain set of spiritual beliefs, or groups with right wing political ideologies. I think this would be more clear. I also am concerned that everyone not get painted with the same brush. 

 

susan davis

i agree, painting all people wit one brush never works.

our proposed model for decrim specifically lists adult consentual sex workers and is in opposition to any exploitation youth or person. we believe we will be able to better identify traffickers, exploiters of youth in a more open and transparent system. criminalizing sex consumers will not aid in finding trafficked or exploited people. we must allow consumers to beable to report dangerous conditions in a way that will not harm them...how likely is a trick to report trafficking or exploitation if he fears being arrested. the consumers are the ones who see the working conditions and are our best hope for weeding out or identifying bad business owners.

skdadl

JMartin, in answer to your question @ 20, I always code my babble links this way:

 

<URL=paste URL>your own phrasing</URL>

 

except where I have used angle brackets in the example, you use square brackets -- [ ] -- on babble.

jas

Thanks, Susan. That puts it in the context of your broader goals.

Not that you've asked my opinion, but it sounds very ambitious and possibly unwieldy in its many interdependent aspects. And, again, restaurants are a high-risk business endeavour, but the restaurant plan on its own or with one other complement, I agree, sounds inspiring. The museum idea too is one that I think could be really fascinating - not sure how you could make money with it, but if there was some way to, it could stand on its own, imo.

Infosaturated

To cut and paste links I use the drop down menu instead of ctrl V which doesn't work for me.

susan davis wrote:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2009/oct/20/trafficking-numbers-women-exaggerated

 On a strict definition, eventually expressed in international law by the 2000 Palermo protocol, sex trafficking involves the use of force, fraud or coercion to transport an unwilling victim into sexual exploitation. This image of sex slavery soon provoked real public anxiety....

But a much looser definition, subsequently adopted by the UK's 2003 Sexual Offences Act, uses the word to describe the movement of all sex workers, including willing professionals who are simply travelling in search of a better income. This wider meaning has injected public debate with confusion and disproportionate anxiety.

This would be why I did a long post discussing the definition of trafficking. Much of the rest of the article deals with politicians making false claims. What a shocker.

susan davis wrote:
Since the Sexual Offences Act came into force in January 2004, internal police documents show that 46 men and women have been convicted and jailed for transporting willing sex workers and 59 people have been convicted for transporting women who were forced to work as prostitutes.

Those are just the ones they caught. 59 were transporting women who were forced into prostitution. I think most people would conclude that 59 men caught means more that weren't caught, and each one would be trafficking more than one woman more than one time. Sounds like organized crime. 46 were transporting willing workers, same thing, more not caught and multiple trips, people smuggling = organized crime. Most people are against illegal immigration.

susan davis wrote:
However, the internal analysis shows that supposed victims variously absconded from police, went home voluntarily, declined support, were removed by the UK Borders Agency or were prosecuted for various offences....

Research published recently by Dr Nick Mai of London Metropolitan University, concludes that, contrary to public perception, the majority of migrant sex workers have chosen prostitution as a source of "dignified living conditions and to increase their opportunities for a better future while dramatically improving the living conditions of their families in the country of origin". After detailed interviews with 100 migrant sex workers in the UK, Mai found: "For the majority, working in the sex industry was a way to avoid the exploitative working conditions they had met in their previous non-sexual jobs."

No kidding. What a shock that women coming from countries where they make 10$ a day doing back-breaking labour would rather be in Great Britain. Exploited farm migrants and sweatshop workers won't complain either.

The above all supports the idea that illegal female migrant workers are being used to supply the sex-trade because there aren't enough British women willing to do it no matter how "well paid" it is.  To bad Dr. Nick Mai didn't mention just how much money these women are actually earning.

I never thought there were or would be huge numbers of women kept as sex slaves. I am against importing women for the sex trade.

Lee Lakeman

But back to the questions: I do think words frame this debate and determine much of how people can talk and think about this.  I mean that is true in most political discussions but it certainly is heightened in this one.  I don't think there is anything wrong with that but we do have to take responsibility for it

In my speech and writing:

I choose prostituted over prostitute because I want to indicate who is doing what to whom: whose agency is determining things.  Prostitute I think fixes a label on a woman that is very hard to live with especially if those in the discussion hold her as responsible as the ones with the money.

I choose to say raped or assaulted children rather than young or underage prostitutes.  "Sexually exploited youth" is ok but I don't think it says as much as rape and saxual assault.

I say constrained choice when trying to describe that women may have some options but are still under great duress

I have not been using partial decriminalization but I have picked it up here and will be using it from now on instead of saying out long hand that I want the law to stop punishing the ones bought and sold and to criminalize the pimps and johns and owners of bawdy houses and massage parlours and escort services.

I say johns and pimps and owners instead of customers or consumers and security guards and drivers to express my refusal to sanitize or accept the roles they play in creating the demand for trafficking and prostitution of children and women.

I think those categories reveal more of the truth that i am interested in revealing and I agree my language tries shapes the debate toward partial decriminalization

susan davis

hmmm, very interesting. you make a good point about restaurants being risky. jobs for exotic dancers are a high priority and in intial discussions with the city it became clear that a pub licence would be difficult to get but a restaurant license would not be, thus our thinking restaurant...

we are hoping to strike a deal for the forst few years of rent- like $1 a year....i know ...very ambitious...but in conversations with business development orgs in vancouver, it seems the city has a number of incentives for businesses in the DTES and we may be able to leverage monies from those sources as a way to get a break on rent. i am also hoping to fund raise capitol costs so we don't open with a big debt.....

in the end we will listen to those with expertise and continue developing smaller aspects of the coop, such as the play and the already open for business consulting enterpise...

it will take a significant amount of time to develope a comprhensive business plan and raise the monsy to open, so in the mean time the smaller enterprises can be more formalized and developed to a point where perhaps they could support the overall organizing space/restaurant enterprise....i feel like it's going to take years!lol

the museum exhibit is beautiful. it would hopefully support many aspects of what we would like to do...

Infosaturated

jas wrote:

Thanks, Susan. That puts it in the context of your broader goals.

Not that you've asked my opinion, but it sounds very ambitious and possibly unwieldy in its many interdependent aspects. And, again, restaurants are a high-risk business endeavour, but the restaurant plan on its own or with one other complement, I agree, sounds inspiring. The museum idea too is one that I think could be really fascinating - not sure how you could make money with it, but if there was some way to, it could stand on its own, imo.

My only problem with it is that it detracts from the issue of decriminalization. It's great that they are doing it but it has nothing to do with the law as it is a neighbourhood project that from a practical perspective can't be broadly duplicated across Canada.

susan davis

Infosaturated wrote:

jas wrote:

Thanks, Susan. That puts it in the context of your broader goals.

Not that you've asked my opinion, but it sounds very ambitious and possibly unwieldy in its many interdependent aspects. And, again, restaurants are a high-risk business endeavour, but the restaurant plan on its own or with one other complement, I agree, sounds inspiring. The museum idea too is one that I think could be really fascinating - not sure how you could make money with it, but if there was some way to, it could stand on its own, imo.

My only problem with it is that it detracts from the issue of decriminalization. It's great that they are doing it but it has nothing to do with the law as it is a neighbourhood project that from a practical perspective can't be broadly duplicated across Canada.

why not?why couldn't localized groups of sex workers all over canada engage in cooperative development? for that matter why couldn't the living in community process be duplicated all over canada?

our plan is 2 tier- industry association on a national level and localized cooperative development so sex workers could prioritize what they feel they need most on a localized level.

www.wccsip.ca  see labour on the margins report

Infosaturated

JMartin wrote:
...all questions I had on my mind after reading the article. Perhaps people in both abolition and full decriminalization camps could speak to the idea that language frames this debate, whether it sanitizes reality or sensationalizes reality.

Thanks for that article, it's going in my treasure chest. Smile  I think both sanitization and sensationalism occur but I have faith in people and in truth.

I think the pretty woman verses abused sex slave both exist to some extent.  That is, there are sex workers in the industry who want to be there, have control over their clients, don't have to see too many of them etc. But women forced into sexual slavery and severely abused also exist.  That makes it difficult to avoid the impression of sanitation and sensationalism when discussing the two extremes. "Snapshots" of the industry are important so that when you step back and are looking at numbers and ideologies you can still see the people.

What annoys me the most is when it is framed simplistically rather than examined thoughtfully. This isn't a decision that can be decided on from a purely ideological standpoint.

Infosaturated

 

 

susan davis wrote:
why not?why couldn't localized groups of sex workers all over canada engage in cooperative development? for that matter why couldn't the living in community process be duplicated all over canada?

Because there are thousands of communities that don't have the resources of Vancouver. How many years have you been working on that project and how many more years to fully implement?  How many organizations involved?  And you are in a city and I believe applied for government funding aside from the time of various government officials. And after all that there will still be street walkers plying their trade and being endangered.  Get rid of the johns, problem solved.

martin dufresne

Infosaturated, there are many indications that what you call one end of the spectrum: "sex workers in the industry who want to be there, have control over their clients, don't have to see too many of them" do not lead the enchanted lives of Happy Hookers that are being promoted by the industry.

Think for instance of Montreal writer Nelly Arcan, who had precisely that kind of arrangement with an escort agency (pimp) and upscale johns while studying at Université du Québec. Her book Whore (Putain) delineates how harmful this experience was, despite the big bucks and comfortable conditions. Her following works also reflected how she remained a "pute" ("ho") in male friends' eyes, a stigma that did not issue from legislation but from the male gaze and this experience of being prostituted to it. And as you know, Arcan took her life a month ago, having never managed to reclaim it from the beauty/seduction imperative, something she made a lot of people uncomfortable by lamenting it openly in Quebec media.

 

Fidel

So if Nelly hadn't strived to get ahead with pursuing an education, none of this would have been necessary for her? I can remember a time when these US-style life experiences were uncommon in Canada.

martin dufresne

???

susan davis

Infosaturated wrote:

 

 

susan davis wrote:
why not?why couldn't localized groups of sex workers all over canada engage in cooperative development? for that matter why couldn't the living in community process be duplicated all over canada?

Because there are thousands of communities that don't have the resources of Vancouver. How many years have you been working on that project and how many more years to fully implement?  How many organizations involved?  And you are in a city and I believe applied for government funding aside from the time of various government officials. And after all that there will still be street walkers plying their trade and being endangered.  Get rid of the johns, problem solved.

you are just so naiive.....inclusion is key.working together is the only real solution.

it was credit unions who gave us our funding to develope our coop and work on our stratgeic plan. there are 15,000 credit unions across canada. all people have to do is invite sex workers to the table...that doesn't cost alot.

it costs $1200 a day to put someone in jail, howmuch will your plan cost us? court fees, jail time, probation officers? or is your idea a make work project? and clearly sex workers wouldn't be able to get these jobs...youhave to be bondable.......never mind police are already stretched to the limit for time and money.....

martin dufresne

No need to lob more insults, please, Infosaturated's point is quite appropriate. Few communities could (or would want to) support a "Museum of Prostitution in the Good Ole Days".

This is an apples and oranges discussion, of course. Restaurant, cafe, museum projects are totally commendable, especially if and where they can become self-supporting, but there is no reason at all to link them with legalized brothels. Indeed, I would bet that their personnel will sooner identify as such than as "sex workers", so it's illogical to use such projects for leverage in order to get brothels accepted.

As for dissuading johns, as was done in Sweden,  Norway and Iceland (so far), few would ever go to jail or require probation agents - the Nordic model amply demonstrates that - most of them simply forsake sexually exploiting women in this manner once it becomes a truly risky venture.

The real question is do we want this enough and how to get there. It seems to me that this entails creating not mere window dressing for the sex exploitation industry but substantive job/housing/income/detox/support/child care alternatives for women trapped in not-really-chosen prostitution situations by poverty, controlling pimps and/or addictions.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
It seems that would be creating not window dressing for brothels but substantive alternatives for women trapped in not-really-chosen situations by poverty, controlling pimps and/or addictions.

 

And what would it create for those like susan, who aren't trapped and who have chosen their job?

 

You don't seem to feel any need whatsoever to consider other alternatives that wouldn't leave susan and other sex workers by choice without a job. And sorry, but whether she's the majority or the minority is moot.

remind remind's picture

snert wrote:
And sorry, but whether she's the majority or the minority is moot.

Nonsense, and quite the proclimation of the absurb. Guess we are supposed to just accept it as correct because you said so.

If there is only a handful of women who want to be front line sex workers, as their career choice in life, why in hell would a whole system be set up, just to accommodate men's immediate sexual desires, just because they have wrongly come to believe that whatever they want should be met, at any, and every, given moment.

The money would be better spent on and for the majority who do not want to. By way of housing, GAI, day care program, rehab centres, and access to education and job's enhanced.

 

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
If there is only a handful of women who want to be front line sex workers, as their career choice in life, why in hell would a whole system be set up, just to accommodate men's immediate sexual desires

 

Uh, it almost looked like you got it there.

 

Hint: we wouldn't be setting up the system for those awful MEN, we'd be setting it up for the women who want to be sex workers. I trust you DO believe their bodies to be their own.

 

Hilarious to me that you can't see the forest for the MEN.

susan davis

i thought you wanted to get rid of john's? but now you are back to if they choose to be sex workers they deserve what they get....so don't try to stabilize our safety, pretend there is any chance for livable wages for women in canada, and watch the death toll rise.

"the money wuld be better spent"....doing more of what is already being done? continuing to ignore the voices of those you claim to know so well?

funding cuts to all the things you are describing are already happening everywhere and your solution is to pretend we will find money for sex worker specific programs.......

our history of sex work project was done in partnership with simon fraser university, it was civil rights focused and most of the project participants were street entrenched workers. some had never even used a computer. it was 2 years of skills development and capacity building cumlnating with a book and museum exhibit created and owned by the workers. you're dismissal of tha project demonstrates your total lack of understnading what we are up against. why not read what sex workers wrote? instead of basing it as some good old glory days revival......you really insult all of the hard work and time spent by sex workers in discovering their history.

in cooperative development, sex workers decide what they want....so it might not be a history project....it's what they want....thje history project was what we wanted as a group in vancouver.....are you people daft or have you just never heard of cooperative development?

i was inspired by the cooperative of sex workers in india- calcutta....they did some history work but were more focused on traditional dances.....in san fransisco, the lusty lady peep show s cooperatively run, owned and operated by workers.....this is bad how?.....

you still have not proven that "the majority of sex workers want to exit".....assertions like that  are just a reflection the tired old osterich approach, if i don't see it- in this case choose not to- it isn't happening.

good luck with that.....

the parliamentry sub committees report states 1.5 million men a year purchase direct sexual services- physical contact -every year-

so, to arrest them all as info saturated suggested, at $1200 a day in prison.... hmmm...doesn't seem very cost effective.....

1. 8 billion dollars a day for encarceration....never mind courst fees.......

waiting for the government to make sex workers a priority on any level is never gping to happen. pretending detox and employment retraining services are going to come anytime soon just shows a total dfisregard for the truth and sex workers lives.

instead of slamming ideas that ave actually provided alternative income sources to sex workers, like the history project revenues, or the consulting enterprise why not wake up and support real choices for people.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
It is not about saving the women, not for a moment. It's about men's dicks.

 

I've been waiting three threads for an abolitionist to say this.

remind remind's picture

You just don't seem to get the greater picture susan.

If front line sex work was made a formallay recognized job industry, they would have to be a whole infrastructure set up around it, to ensure job safety.

There would have to WCB rules, health safety rules, job standards rules, municipal by-law rules, and a myriad of other rules that would have to be implimented and those trained to over-look said new industry.

It would be a huge expense to society, plus adhereing to it all would drive it all back out into the streets where people would not have to comply with the regulations.

Such regulations would be strict condom use, x amount of john's per day, john's would have to pass disease tests and be certified free of them, as would the workers, plus plus plus....

I am not naive, nor stupid, enough to believe, the majority of john's would go for  adherance to the regulations. Perhaps those who, for whatever reason, only used purchased sex, would, but not the spontaneous, nor those seeking to dominate and abuse. Thus not a damn thing would change.

So why in hell would we waste the 100's of millions, if not into the billions, on a creating a job industry, where the majority do not want to be in it, and would prefer having the opportunities afforded to them, if the same amount of money is spent on what they do want and need?

It is an affront to society at large to believe a whole industry should be created to satisfy men's sexual desires.

It is not about saving the women, not for a moment. It's about men's dicks, and apparently wasting money to provide for "its" satisfaction is A okay..

If it were, about the women, we would already be demanding, as the public at large, for the things that would get people out of front line sex, who do not want to be there.

 

Infosaturated

Snert wrote:

Quote:
It seems that would be creating not window dressing for brothels but substantive alternatives for women trapped in not-really-chosen situations by poverty, controlling pimps and/or addictions.

And what would it create for those like susan, who aren't trapped and who have chosen their job?

You don't seem to feel any need whatsoever to consider other alternatives that wouldn't leave susan and other sex workers by choice without a job. And sorry, but whether she's the majority or the minority is moot.

I have considered other alternatives and they lead to increased harm for other women (and children). The desires of "sex workers by choice" do not supercede the rights of those who are negatively impacted by that choice. Frankly, women like Susan who are satisfied with their career choice are already as safe as they are going to get. They are not the ones at risk. Susan works in her home with men that she likes and stated that she does hire protection. There is no shortage of men willing to act as "drivers".  The Eliot Spitzer's will not be deprived.

remind remind's picture

Well...snert, I have been waiting for over 6 threads to say the truth of it.

Ghislaine

Funny, the porn industry has managed to set all of that up, remind. I am still waiting for someone to explain logically why porn whould be legal and prostitution not?

Or why it is okay to deny Susan the right to legally control what she does with her own body? Something not mentioned as well is that there are non-female sex workers - as well as clients and workers who identify as trans.

remind - to say that "It is all about men's dicks" is a statement that could be made about porn, exotic dancing, a lot of advertising, viagra, etc. ,etc. etc. Plus, as susan has demonstrated this statement is not true.

Infosaturated

Ghislaine, I'm not in favor of the porn industry either and exotic dancers were upset when clubs gained the right to offer lap-dancing because they were forced to participate or lose their jobs. They were right. The majority of strip clubs in Quebec and Ontario offer lap dancing. One lap dancer in Britain said that if girls were called to a VIP room it was understood that they would at least allow the man to put his finger in her vagina and suck on her tit.  

If prostitution were to be legalized there is no doubt in my mind that it would increase the pressure on exotic dancers to "cooperate".

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