Sunday, June 9, 2013

Charlie Smith


Christy Clark chastised at rally for not showing compassion to sex workers

Sex workers marched with a police escort. PHOTO: Charlie Smith
PHOTO: Charlie Smith
Sex workers marched with a police escort.

A VANCOUVER SEX worker has claimed that Premier Christy Clark does not care about people in her industry.

At a rally at the Vancouver Art Gallery yesterday, Sue Davis declared that the recent disbanding of the missing-women's commission implementation activities "has set our spirits back a little bit".

"A lawsuit filed on behalf of the children of some of the women is being blamed, and I say bullshit," Davis said. "As my mother put it, if it wasn't for that, they would find another reason to put it on the back shelf. And our newly elected premier never has and does not now care about vulnerable women or people working in the sex industry in British Columbia."

However, Davis said that sex workers have made great progress working with mainstream groups, noting that a City of Vancouver task force is addressing important issues.

She also credited the Vancouver Police Department for formalizing a "no-arrest policy" for sex workers. Here's part of what the document, entitled "Sex Work Enforcement Guidelines", says:

Citizens of Vancouver involved in sex work are entitled to the same level of safety and protection under the law as are all residents of the City. Many sex workers will never have occasion to interact with the VPD due to the discreet nature of their work, where others, particularly those who are involved in street-based sex work, will likely have more interaction with police.

The VPD believes it is important to act in a manner that is proportional to the risk presented and use the least intrusive method possible to manage a problem. As such, officers should use discretion in dealing with a complaint, as formal enforcement action may not be required. However, the VPD expects that officers will escalate their response in higher risk situations (as outlined above), or where previous attempts with less intrusive tactics have failed.

The rally was held in advance of next week's Supreme Court of Canada constitutional case regarding three antiprostitution laws: keeping a common bawdy house, living off the avails of prostitution, and soliciting in public for the purpose of prostitution.

An Ontario Superior Court judge struck down all three laws in 2010, concluding that they violated the defendants' constitutional rights to freedom of expression and security of the person.

The Ontario Court of Appeal later upheld the street soliciting law, but agreed with the previous ruling on the laws regarding bawdy houses and living off the avails.

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Created: June 10, 2013
Last modified: June 27, 2013
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