Sex Work: An Experiential Perspective October 18, 2006 London, Ontario Thoughts To Consider: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them” “The world is a dangerous place to live, not just because of the evil people in it, but because of the people who do nothing about it.” 4 Categories of the Sex Trade Free-Will Choice To Work Forced Into Sex Trade Under 18 #1 #2 18 & Over #3 #4 Forming A Group Formation of group that includes experiential and community supporters From all parts of the harm reduction and legislation spectrum Everyone has a personal stake in this, both as an advocate and as a woman Listening and respect for each other despite differences was achieved All of the members felt that the work they do in their own communities across Canada has been helped by membership in the Coalition CNCEW Mission CNCEW commits to the improvement of the living and working conditions of women in and from sex work CNCEW supports diversity and inclusion of dialogue that does not promote harm to those active in and from sex work CNCEW opposes models of enforcement or rehabilitation that promote the continued criminalization or harm of women in and from sex work Gratefully funded by Status of Women Canada CNCEW Goals To facilitate the involvement of women in and from sex work on issues of direct impact To provide opportunities for women to communicate their ideas directly to legislators, policy makers, and public towards the improvement of living and working conditions To combat conditions of violence, abuse, exploitation, slavery and coercion related to sex work Representation We represent women from all areas of sex work • Street level sex work • Escorts– agencies and independent • Massage Parlor workers • Trafficked women • Exotic entertainers • Adult film workers • Adult phone sex workers Demographics of Members Women from all areas of sex work Ages range from 20 – 50 years old 160 years combined experience in sex work 120 years combined experience working as advocates All women are activists in their own communities Extremely passionate and actively involved in all issues surrounding the sex industry What have we done so far? • Held four national meetings • Developed statements in seven key areas • Conducted research in these key areas • Full day conference in Edmonton, Alberta • Testified at a private Senate Committee hearing before members of many Federal Government departments on Parliament Hill Seven Key Priorities of Action Occupational Health and Safety Violence Against Women Working in the Sex Industry Addiction Services Law Reform Public Awareness and Education Social Justice Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth Occupational Health and Safety Exotic dance, massage and escort agencies are licensed by the city and as businesses are subject to labour laws Improper care and control of the enterprises can lead to injury and diseases Existing health and safety, labour and municipal by-laws should be enforced by the appropriate agencies Occupational Health and Safety As with any other occupation, workers in these establishments should have the following rights: • Refuse unsafe work • Education on potential job-related risks • Participation in joint health and safety committees with industry owners • Workers should also be INFORMED OF THESE RIGHTS Violence Against Women Law enforcement must begin to take reports of violence against sex workers seriously Ability for sex workers to report bad dates anonymously Prosecution of violent offenders National DNA databank of those convicted with violence against sex workers Training of experiential women in victim service roles Addiction Treatment Services Removal of barriers to treatment, including long wait lists, childcare accessibility, and unrealistic expectations Sex work-specific treatment centres Recognition that sex work in and of itself can be an addiction for some Aftercare and follow-up provided by sex worker-specific agencies across Canada Law Reform Removal of common bawdy house laws Removal of solicitation laws End the deportation of trafficked women being dependent on police cooperation against traffickers Access to employment insurance, workers compensation and re-training in the same way as other workers Removal of policies that are punitive based only on status as a sex worker Fair and equitable licensing fees Public Awareness and Education Media Use of appropriate images and language Public Education Culturally sensitive sessions Research Sex worker-friendly research Consultations with sex workers Training Sex workers as consultants and researchers Social Justice Train and hire experiential women to design and implement programs and services Removal of barriers to services Stable core funding for programs Continuum of services Access to educational opportunities Safe and affordable housing Sexual Exploitation of Children and Youth The Federal Government of Canada must take a leadership role to ensure that the age of consent law is raised from 14 to 16 years of age Each province has the means to provide appropriate and accessible services, including treatment, emergency shelter, healing and exiting programs and outreach services for children and youth who have been sexually exploited More resources and strategies are needed to prevent children and youth from being exploited. CNCEW is currently working with the Federal Government of Canada to bring harsher punishments to the perpetrators who sexually exploit children and youth We are the Experts The experiential voice is mandatory when implementing and developing programs and services We can provide useful resources and deliver powerful messages to key stakeholders, policy makers and government officials When our voices and experiences are inserted into public policy, realistic solutions can be achieved -- reducing the stigma, one attitude at a time Response to Sex Work Criminalization (Criminal Code) Legalization (Municipal Bylaws) Swedish Model (Both Criminalization & Legalization) Decriminalization (Provincial Labour Laws) Not here yet! Canadian Criminal Code: S 210 210. (1) Every one who keeps a common bawdy-house is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years. (2) Every one who (a) is an inmate of a common bawdy-house, (b) is found, without lawful excuse, in a common bawdy-house, or (c) as owner, landlord, lessor, tenant, occupier, agent or otherwise having charge or control of any place, knowingly permits the place or any part thereof to be let or used for the purposes of a common bawdy-house, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. Canadian Criminal Code: S 213 213. (1) Every person who in a public place or in any place open to public view (a) stops or attempts to stop any motor vehicle, (b) impedes the free flow of pedestrian or vehicular traffic or ingress to or egress from premises adjacent to that place, or (c) stops or attempts to stop any person or in any manner communicates or attempts to communicate with any person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or of obtaining the sexual services of a prostitute is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction. (2) In this section, “public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, express or implied, and any motor vehicle located in a public place or in any place open to public view. The Outcome of S. 213: Murder 86 sex workers were murdered from 1992 to 1998 56 (65%) of the murders committed were by clients 18 sex workers were murdered in 2004 54% of cases reported between 1991 and 1995 remained unsolved (34 incidents) compared to only 20% of non sex worker murders (as of 1996) 90 women missing/murdered from Vancouver Municipal Bylaws Licenses Criminal Record Checks & Photo ID Cards Fines Health Checks Fees: I.E. Winnipeg’s Licensing Fees: • Massage Parlours & Escort Agency’s: $4000 • Shooting Gallery: $460 Provincial Labour Laws Provincial Labour Laws are not applied to sex workers. For example: • Occupational Health & Safety Act • Employment Standards Act • Labour Relations Act • Pay Equity Act Human Rights Why is Canada regulating the labour of sex workers under the Canadian Criminal Code and municipal bylaws? Sex workers should have the same rights as other workers. Not applying criminal code (as protection) or labour laws or treating sex workers as workers is a human right violation. CCC Enforcement & Tax Payers Dollars There were 6493 prostitution related offences in 2004 It costs $50 005 to incarcerate 1 person for 1 year at the (cheaper) provincial rate Therefore, to incarcerate every person charged for a period of one year (1/2 of the maximum time for “communicating”) it would cost taxpayers $324 682 465 A YEAR!!! Over a million dollars per riding! In addition to the cost of policing; courts; murder investigations (18 for 2004 alone); violent crimes against sex workers and all other offences related to sex work! Recommendations With respect to sex workers, the immediate removal of S. 210 (bawdy house) & S. 213 (communicating) from the Canadian Criminal Code. Consult with sex workers when reviewing any law relating to prostitution, trafficking, immigration, migration and living off the avails of prostitution. Provide sex workers with a safe worksite. Sex work is not illegal in Canada and very human being has a right to safe place to work. Denying a person a safe place to work is a human rights violation. Listen to our voices – we are the experts and we know what is best for us. Concluding Questions #1 “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them” - Albert Einstein Where is your level of thinking at now? Concluding Questions #2 “The world is a dangerous place to live, not just because of the evil people in it, but because of the people who do nothing about it.” - Albert Einstein What are you going to do about it now?