Friday, September 23, 2011


City Council is studying the sex trade.

Lord help us.

Thankfully, people who actually know what they are talking about have appeared and made valiant efforts to cut through the muck.

Rachelle Rovner was one of several speakers who took issue with some of the language in the report, pointing out the term "sex workers" implies prostitution is a legitimate form of work, when it is not at all.

Jonathan Livingston, a front line worker who deals with vulnerable youth in the Downtown Eastside, said there is an inherent flaw in aiming to make sex work "safer."

"I don't think you can make it safe," he said, adding that both prostitution and the procuring of sex need to be wholly condemned.

MacDougall said the trade is "inherently unsafe."

MacDougall also noted she hears from countless women who are abused by men while "supplementing their income in some form of sale of sex for money through inside work," but would never identify as being in the sex trade.

"They would never say, 'I am a sex worker' because they don't want to identify with that label," she said.

"This is not a career path for them; this is a survival mechanism."

Many speakers, including 19-year-old Sharlene Petigara, pointed out the report failed to adequately address the demand from johns.

"Prostitution is violence against women and there are people inflicting this violence," she said. "So why are they not addressed in this report?" Janessa Greening, director of resource development at Union Gospel Mission, called on staff to rewrite the report to include more emphasis on the issue.

"The most notable gap is the lack of reference to who is abusing the power imbalance - those who are violating these women, those whose actions are initiating and exacerbating the long-term, devastating impact these women will experience."

This is a classic example of a local authority working from the failed and morally reprehensible platform of Harm Seduction.

It is also an example of people who truly understand the issues stepping forward and casting some real light.

Officials everywhere are tragically obsessed with making self-destructive and harmful behaviour "safe" or "safer," while front line workers and ordinary citizens know that shooting heroin, smoking crack or renting out your body parts by the half hour can never be safe.