CALL TO ACTION: SEX WORKERS NEED YOU!
The Canadian government is conducting an online public consultation on prostitution laws in light of the Bedford decision. This consultation is a chance for the Canadian public to have your say and support sex workers in our fight for safe and healthy working conditions and the respect for sex workers’ human and labour rights.
Deadline to complete the questionnaire: March 17th, 2014.
Various legal regimes are being discussed in the media and from government and from groups that want to “save” sex workers – these regimes are criminalization models. Words like “Nordic model” and “Swedish model” are being thrown about that propose to criminalize clients. In reality, many Nordic countries rejected this model, and where it was implemented in Sweden, these laws do much more than “target demand” or criminalize clients – they target and criminalize sex workers and the people that sex workers need to provide security and protection (third parties). Where clients are criminalized – Sweden, Canada, China, Finland, etc – sex workers are more at risk of increased surveillance, increased violence, and less capacity to screen clients. In 2003, New Zealand passed a law that removed criminal sanctions against prostitution and allowed sex workers to work in groups, have access to occupational and health standards and be recognized as workers on the street, indoors and in other sex working venues. We would like Canada to be inspired by this and to create a “made-in-Canada New Zealand model”. Overall, we believe it is vital that any reform to prostitution law involves a close and meaningful consultation with people working in the sex industry who will currently be impacted by these laws.
This is the opportunity for members of our societies to directly address their concerns for sex worker’s human and labour rights. We are very much hoping that the government keeps in line with what was decided in Bedford – to strike down the laws that cause harm and…
For inspiration, see Stella’s answers to the consultation by clicking here.
You can respond to the questionnaire here:
Submit only one response. If you need to expand or clarify something that you said in your first response, then feel free to make a follow-up submission, but make sure you indicate in the last box that you are expanding on your previous submission. IP addresses are used to track responses and you don’t want your response disqualified.
If you are assisting others by transcribing their responses (for example, in a community group, during a meeting, or for people that visit your organization) be sure to state the following in the last question (which asks whether you a member of a group):
State whose submission it is (in other words, the person you are assisting): I am a (community member, sex worker in X city, member of X organization, ally etc).
State whether that person received assistance: I required assistance with the online submission process so another individual transcribed and submitted my answers on my behalf.
State whether you borrowed someone else’s computer: I used a computer at XX organization, which may have been used by others to participate in this online consultation,
Copy your own unique responses to the consultation and post them on your blogs, Facebook, and websites – they act as great educational tools!
Important: Create a PDF or copy of your response – send one copy to your Member of Parliament (to find your MP, go here: www.bit.ly/1cuJOxO) and one copy to the person or group who sent you this Call to Action! We are trying to keep track of how many people respond and what they said.
AT STELLA - Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (except Tuesdays, from noon p.m. to 5 p.m.): Someone from Stella answers calls and messages left on the voice mail: 514.285.8889. We accept collect calls from women who are in prison. Someone from Stella will be at the centre to meet with you one on one. It’s a privileged time for individual and confidential meetings with or without an appointment. - Floating Legal Clinic: Do you have legal issues? Do you have trouble with the law? Make an appointment with our volunteer lawyer specialized in criminal law; he knows also basic family and immigration laws. - Medical Clinic: Monday, August 12th, September 9th and 23rd, 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. - Hot-dogs and corns on the cob: Stella, Dopamine and Guylaine (proximity nurse), invite you at the Hochelaga Park for corns on the cob on August 29th, at 5 p.m. For more info, call Stella. - 5 to 7 in the park: Thursday, August 29th. Join us for a picnic and a movie in the park! Meeting at Stella at 5 p.m.!
ONE OF THE MOST MEMORABLE DAYS OF MY LIFE From Anna Louise Crago: "On June 13th, I experienced one of the most memorable days of my life. Sex workers had the case to decriminalize sex work heard at Supreme Court of Canada. Sex workers came from across the country to rally in support of the women who brought the case and were intervening it and to watch history play out. Dozens of sex workers lined up at dawn to be admitted entering the court room. I fell head-over-heels in love again with all the amazing people in the movement in Canada, new and old. Who knows what the trial will bring, but I know we are in it for the long-haul together and that history has been made by having sex workers' voices heard in the highest court."
INFOSHEETS ON LEGAL ADVOCACY AND DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK Stella and its allies have published five infosheets around the Bedford case and mobilizing around decriminalization of sex work: The basics: Decriminalization of Sex Work 101 Sex Work and the Charter Challenging Prostitution Laws: Bedford v. Canada Language matters: Talking About Sex Work 10 Ways to be a Great Ally to Sex Workers You'll also find these tools on our web page about Bedford v. Canada.
STELLA'S PENNY FUNDRAISING On February 2013, the Royal Canadian Money stopped issuing new pennies. Stella is encouraging all of you to get your pennies together and donate them to us. Ask your friends and family to join you in this fundraising that will help Stella pursue its activities and services to sex workers. Next September, the theme of our monthly get together will be a Penny Rolling 5 to 7 in which every one is invited to help roll the pennies we will have accumulated! Infos: 514.285.8889.
STELLA-POSITIVE Stella-Positive is a group of women living with HIV, sex workers or ex-sex workers, created in order to break the women’s loneliness, to provide a safe space and an opportunity to take care of themselves and to have goods moments in good company! You decide the activities! For example, an evening at the cinema or at the theatre, a visit to the museum, an evening of ice skating, an afternoon of collective cooking, an evening at the spa or a beauty metamorphosis! We meet approximately once a month, every third Thursday of the month, in the late afternoon or at the beginning of the evening. For more information, or if you would like to participate, contact Anna-Aude: 514.984.0966.
STELLA'S HUMAN RIGHTS AND ANTI-VIOLENCE WORK Stella offers support, accompaniment and information to sex workers who have been victims of violence and to their loved ones. More infos here. New!: ConStellation Human Rights Issue and our Rights Guide!
MONTÉRÉGIE'S SEX WORKER PROJECT At ÉMISS-ÈRE: Hepatitis A and B Vaccination - Blood and Vaginal screening - Pregnancy test - Emergency birth control - References - Self-Defense classes. Call Diane for more infos.
A DAILY NEWSPAPER ABOUT SEX WORK To stay up to date about sex worker issues, see the newspaper Travail du sexe/Sex Work maintained by the Feminist Alliance in Solidarity for Sex Workers' Rights!
AGENDA 2013 - August 8th-18th - Montréal: Pervers/Cité - September 19th-22nd - Washington, DC: Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit - September 29th - Montréal: Ça marche 2013
RESEARCHERS HIGHLIGHT SEX INDUSTRY "THIRD PARTIES" AND SEX WORKER SAFETY Researchers from the University of Ottawa have released the findings of Beyond Pimps, Procurers and Parasites: Mapping Third Parties in Incall/Outcall Sex Industry, a three-year study on "third parties" in the adult and sex industries, including their role in sex worker safety. Findings confirm that the current prostitution laws, often presented as protecting sex workers, work against their interests and increase sex workers’ vulnerability to violence, by targeting these third parties. Read more. There is also Managing Sex Work: Information for Third Parties and Sex Workers in the Incall/Outcall Sex Industry, a community booklet that reflects what our community advisory committee told us was important and useful for the sex workers and third parties in the sex industry. These documents come out of a three year innovative research project entitled Rethinking Management in the Adult and Sex Industry.
GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY! Stella is currently looking for volunteers: fundraising (priority number one!), filing, translation, copy editing, graphic design, illustration. Sex workers and close allies welcome. Volunteer opportunities specifically for sex workers or ex-sex workers: welcoming people to community dinners or contributions to Stella’s publications. Don’t hesitate to tell us about other skills you would like to share with Stella! Aboriginal Advisor Committee: Are you an Aboriginal (First Nation, Inuit or Métis) Woman (including Trans Woman) who trades or has traded sex for money, drugs or other things? We are looking for your expertise! Infos: Pauline at 514.984.2212.
SCARLET ROAD Scarlet Road follows Rachel Wotton in her work with clients with disability. The film can be seen online here.
CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT: STRIP SEARCHES IN QUEBEC PRISONS Trudel and Johnson are bringing a class action suit against the government alleging that submitting people who received a release order to strip searches should be illegal. This case concerns anyone who was strip-searched in a detention facility in Quebec since July 2006 despite having received a release order. Infos: Trudel & Johnston Avocats, Geneviève Douville at 514.871.8385 poste 2206.
SUPREME COURT RULING ON CRIMINALIZATION OF HIV: MAJOR STEP BACKWARDS FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS As a coalition of interveners, we are shocked and dismayed at the ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada that says that even the responsible use of a condom does not protect a person living with HIV from rampant prosecution. Read more.
CRIMINALIZATION OF HIV NON-DISCLOSURE Are you accused of HIV exposure or transmission? Do you want to appeal a conviction? The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network wants to know your story and to help you. They can provide background material to assist you and your lawyer for the court. Please send relevant information and inquiries to email@example.com.
DECRIMINALISATION REMAINS WORLD'S BEST PRACTICE, SEX WORK FORUM TOLD A convention held in Sydney (Australia) on November 2012 looking at the gains made in New South Wales (NSW) since decriminalisation of sex work was introduced in 1995 saw unanimous agreement by delegates present that the NSW Government is wrong to consider re-introducing a stringent licensing system with strict penalties to govern the sex work industry. Hosted by the Open Society Foundations, Scarlet Alliance and Sex Worker Outreach Project (SWOP), the conference attracted nearly 50 sex workers, community leaders, human rights activists, advocates and politicians from a dozen countries across Africa, Asia Pacific, North America and Europe. Read more.
SISTERS (AND BROTHERS) DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES: REPORT FROM KOLKATA Robyn Maynard reports on representing Stella at the Sex Worker Freedom Festival in Kolkata, which took place from July 21-26 as a satellite to the 19th Annual HIV/AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. "The HIV/AIDS epidemic has never been purely a neutral public health issue," she writes, explaining how infection rates have manifest along the lines of structural inequalities within societies, on a global scale. Read more.
THE GLOBAL COMMISSION ON HIV AND THE LAW RECOMMENDS END TO LAWS AGAINST SEX WORKERS A report of the Global Commission on HIV and the Law - applauded by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network - recommends the repeal of laws that prohibit consenting adults from buying or selling sex, including those laws that have the effect of prohibiting commercial sex such as laws against "immoral" earnings, "living off the earnings" of prostitution, and brothel-keeping. It calls for an end to police harassment and violence against sex workers and a prohibition of mandatory HIV and STI testing of sex workers. It also recommends withdrawal of the PEPFAR anti-prostitution pledge, put in place by the Bush Administration and continued by the Obama Administration. This marks a significant advance for sex workers’ struggle for sex work to be decriminalised and recognised as an occupation. Read more.
10 REASONS TO FIGHT FOR THE DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK This document by Maria Nengeh Mensah and Chris Bruckert is available on Slideshare or in PDF.
SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR INSTITUTE'S STATEMENT - A FEMINIST POSITION ON SEX WORK The Simone de Beauvoir Institute of Concordia University supports the recent decision by Ontario Superior Court judge Susan Himel. They are committed to the decriminalization of sex work in Canada, protesting against laws that cause harm to women, supporting women’s agency to define their working conditions, including sex workers, acknowledging the expertise of sex trade workers in their reflections on these issues; and working with women to end violence. This commitment includes genuine collaboration with sex trade workers to identify and implement the strategies they identify as relevant for countering violence against them as women and as workers. Read more.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES IN THE SEX TRADE - SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES We as Indigenous peoples who have current and/or former life experience in the sex trade and sex industries met on unceeded Coast Salish Territory in Vancouver on Monday, April 11th, 2011. In a talking circle organized by the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, we wish to share the following points about our collective discussion so that we may speak FOR ourselves and life experiences.
DANGEROUS AND UNDER THE RADAR Sex work is unprotected, increasingly dangerous and needs to be decriminalized, according to a report published in the Canadian Review of Sociology. Co-authored by Concordia University and University of Windsor researchers, the study calls for sweeping changes to sex work performed on and off the streets. Read more.
DECRIMINALISATION OF SEX INDUSTRY POSITIVE MOVE Decriminalisation of New Zealand’s sex industry has resulted in safer, healthier sex workers, a new book shows. Since decriminalisation seven years ago sex workers are more empowered to insist on safe sex, Gillian Abel’s book Taking the crime out of sex work - New Zealand sex workers’ fight for decriminalisation shows. Abel edited the book with Lisa Fitzgerald and Catherine Healy. They interviewed 772 sex workers. Read more.
THE SWEDISH SEX PURCHASE ACT: CLAIMED SUCCESS AND DOCUMENTED EFFECTS Published on March 2011, The Swedish Sex Purchase Act: Claimed Success and Documented Effects is probably the most important English language source on the Swedish sex purchase law to date. Petra Östergren and Susanne Dodillet have systematically interrogated the official report on the effect of the law after ten years, and compared it to the actual evidence, and found nothing to support its claims, and often the direct evidence completely contradicts the official claims.
CONSIDERING PROBLEMS WITH THE NORDIC MODEL In Sex Work Law Reform in Canada: Considering problems with the Nordic model, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network considers the impact of the "Swedish" or "Nordic" model on sex workers and, in light of its harmful effects, argues that this approach would not withstand constitutional scrutiny in Canada.
WE WANT TO SAVE YOU! AND IF YOU DONT APPRECIATE IT, YOU WILL BE PUNISHED! An interview with Pye Jacobsson, a sex worker activist from Sweden, about the legislation around prostitution and its impact on sex workers’ lives in Sweden. An HCLU-SWAN film. Read the transcript here. See also Making Sex Work. This video sums up the radical feminist position that denies women rights if they do not adhere to an ideological hatred of the sex industry. There's also a good follow-up video: Making Sex Sell.
HOW ABOLITIONIST FEMINISTS HURT SEX WORKERS Millions of women, men, and trans people around the world sell sex, while the topic of sex work is one that sharply divides feminists and women’s rights activists. When we paint all sex workers with the same broad brush and declare them all exploited victims, we ignore their reality, and their demands, and we put very real roadblocks in their path to progress, and ultimately, we endanger their lives. "What we do need is rights and dignity. We want that and we want feminists to help us get it." Read more.
SEX AT THE MARGINS Laura Agustín tells to the Spiked review of books that feminists, NGOs and government bodies dedicated to combating the sex industry have ended up criminalising migrant workers. Her provocative book, Sex at the Margins: Migration, Labor Markets and the Rescue Industry, really does what it says on the back cover: ‘[It] explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims, and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest.’ Read also this great interview of Laura by Susie Bright.
JUST SIGN ON THE DOTTED LINE: THE ANTI PROSTITUTION LOYALTY OATH This video presents a history of a policy regulating provision of foreign aid. The policy requires that recipients of USAID funds sign an oath that they will not support sex workers' rights. This policy is a telling example of how the U.S. exports repressive ideologies through conditions set for foreign aid recipients. Compiled for all those interested in sex workers issues and human rights, this video timeline and accompanying resources provide a comprehensive course in the history of, and resistance to "The Pledge."
LAST RESCUE IN SIAM This is the first film ever made by sex workers in Thailand. It is a short black and white movie inspired by the tradition of the old silent movies. The film accompanies the Empower research report Hit & Run. Sex Worker’s Research on Anti trafficking in Thailand exposing the impact of law and law enforcement, raids and rescues used against sex workers in Thailand and around the world. "We have now reached a point in history where there are more women in the Thai sex industry who are being abused by anti-trafficking practices than there are women being exploited by traffickers."