Wednesday, April 22, 1998

Alison Appelbe
Staff writer

p. 13.

Sex trade groups want council to overrule staff

Sexual politics will be on city council's agenda Thursday.

Councillors will be asked to reconsider the recommendation of social planners that two prostitute-related organizations be refused $64,200 in community service grants.

Earlier this year, planners turned down a request for $39,500 from Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education (PACE).

PACE says its goal is to help several thousand prostitutes who work in massae and body rub parlours, escort agencies and so-called health enhancement centres.

The organization -- which espouses a "harm reduction model" that reduces risks to sex-trade workers while sanctioning the sale of sex -- proposes outreach services to about 100 prostitutes who work in licensed establishments, as well as those who work on their own.

The city planning department also rejected an application from the B.C. Society for Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse for $24,700 to run group therapy sessions for male prostitutes.

Executive director Don Wright told the city city that an informal survey shoes most male prostitutes have experienced sexual abuse, usually as a child.

Planners refused these grants -- several of 108 that were rejected during an extensive annual community granting process -- because the applications failed to document the targeted group, and prove that the service was needed.

Responding to the criticisms, Wright wrote to planners: "It is unfortunate that there are no large studies documenting the problem -- that there are no petitions signed by male hustlers demanding healing options."

PACE spokesman Leonard Cler-Cunningham characterized the rejection as hypocritical. He argued that massage and body rub parlours are licensed for "the physical manipulation of any body part" -- wording that sanctions sexual activity.

Social planners also rejected a request from a night-time drop-in centre for street youth located in the St. Paul's Hospital complex.

They said that Dusk-to-Dawn resource centre, financed by the provincial government and Vancouver Richmond Health Board, needs more provincial funding to do a credible job, and that Native youth might be better served at another location. It is also suggested the service is on shaky ground.

Co-ordinator Kara De Tracey rejected the assessment, and said that the centre, which provides food, clothing and counselling to youth, is doing well. She wanted another $28,500 for another Native youth worker.

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Created: April 23, 1998
Last modified: April 23, 1998

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