Denis Croux
Director, Strategic Programs and Joint Initiatives
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada
350 Albert Street
PO Box 1610 Station B,
Ottawa, ON
K1P 6G4

December 5, 2000

Dear M. Croux,

This letter is my formal resignation. It saddens me to inform you that the Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver and myself have withdrawn our support from the research "Canadian Policy and the Health and Well-Being of Sex Workers" funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. (file number: 828-1999-1005)

In dealing with the investigators from the University of Windsor I found them to be purposely deceptive and even dishonest in dealings with the community partners. I am convinced that if this grant did not require the participation of "community partners," this research would have no community involvement.

Community partners were excluded from important decisions that affected the distribution of the results of this study. As well, no democratic process was followed for making decisions, nor was one in place, until I threatened my resignation. Community partners were also not invited to have input determining the interview questions to be used.

Minutes to the June 2000 meeting were circulated, incomplete, four months after the fact, and only after continuous requests on my part. Minutes to the previous September 1999 meeting are still outstanding.

Community-based research isn't conducted by entering a community with your hypothesis and setting out to find data to support it. Instead, you must ask the community what issues are of importance. You ask people directly.

In this case, the hypothesis is that the sex industry should be decriminalized in order to better regulate it. The "investigators" assume they can determine which public policies hurt (or help?) sex workers by questioning us about how much money we make, how much of the household income we are responsible for, what our first time was like, if we like our clients, what kind of drugs we take, how many drinks we have, etc. — like we all are swimming in a sea of false consciousness. And in reviewing previous reports by these researchers, I have found that their findings often pathologized sex workers.

The only question that truely needs to be asked is: "Have you ever been hurt or helped by public policy because you work in the sex industry? A public policy includes:…"

In future, I sincerely hope that funding for community-based research incorporates more stringent guidelines for determining what a "community partner" is, rather than allowing tokenistic representation and buzzwords to stand in place of true community involvement.


Andy Sorfleet
Coordinator, Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver


[SWAV Letters] [Rights Groups]

Created: December 8, 2000
Last modified: December 8, 2000
SWAV Sex Workers Alliance of Vancouver
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710