Monday, November 12, 2007

Will it never end? Proposed brothel for the 2010 Olympics in VanCan

An article from todays Vancouver Sun. (Emphasis mine)

Coalition pushes for legal brothel during Olympics
Ottawa's support sought for safe, prostitute-run facility that would cater to Olympic visitors

Jeff Lee
Vancouver Sun

Sunday, November 11, 2007

VANCOUVER -- A group of Vancouver prostitutes wants to open a "co-op" brothel in time for the Winter Olympics, saying it would help sex-trade workers by providing a safer working environment when the world comes to visit in 2010.

Susan Davis, a working prostitute, said she envisions the creation of as many as five cooperative brothels if the B.C. Coalition of Experiential Communities -- which includes men, women and transgendered sex-trade workers -- convinces the federal government to permit the first brothel on an experimental basis.

The group has support from some politicians, including Vancouver East MP Libby Davies and Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan, who believe a brothel owned and run by sex-trade workers would help reduce violence against them.

Now Sam Sullivan won by some very shady stuff by having a candidate whose name was exactly the same name except he used his full name James Green instead of popular and former celebrated mayor Larry Summers endorsed COPE candidate Jim Green where people thoought they were voting for the COPE candidate but instead voted for James Green. I don't like the guy, and he wouldn't have been elected if it hadn't been for the multiple Greens who were running.

Davis said the group is weeks away from incorporating a cooperative corporation and is looking for a possible location in the city's east-side Strathcona area. But she said the group won't open the facility, complete with "quickie rooms" equipped with sinks and a bench, unless it has support from the federal government.

The Strathcona district is located in the Downtown East Side (DTES from now on) which is the part of Vancouver that is plagued with poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution. It's also the area where serial prostitute killer Robert Pickton picked up his 46 known victims. Opening a brothel there is not going to help anyone in the area.

"What we'd like to see is an exemption given to us along the lines of what was given for the Insite safe-injection site," Davis said.

She believes tens of thousands of men who come to Vancouver during the Games will be searching for sex. B.C.'s booming construction economy has already brought thousands of workers, and along with them, prostitutes, she said.

"Just like the workers are coming from all over the world to build the city, sex workers are coming with them," she said.

Sullivan, who said the city needs a new approach to dealing with the problems of prostitution, doesn't object to the idea of a co-op brothel.

Again, Sullivan is an asshole. And rather then try to help the women currently on the streets in a productive manner he's buying in to the misconception that decriminalisation and legalisation *actually* make conditions better for prostitutes, which is patently false.

But he said he's more focused on helping so-called "survival sex-trade" workers find cures to their addiction.

"I believe we need to keep an open mind," he said. "But I don't believe it would address the needs of the survival sex trade. I don't think a brothel of this kind would even allow women like that into it, because they come with lots of problems."

It has been documented that many sex workers do not start out as addicts, but become addicts to deal with the abuse they suffer because of prostitution. Goldstein estimated that 40% to 85% of prostitutes were drug users; in addition, he reported that among higher class prostitute women, prostitution tended to precede substance abuse, while in lower class prostitutes, the reverse tended to be true (Goldstein, 1979). James, alluding to data from an unpublished 1976 manuscript, stated that "Prostitution follows addiction in 48% of the subjects, precedes it in 38%, and is simultaneous in 14%" (James, 1977).

Opponents of the brothel say it would only perpetuate the idea that prostitution is acceptable, and not solve the abuse heaped on women in an industry most of them don't want to be in.

"It entrenches prostitution as legitimate, and therefore legitimatizes pimps and traffickers," said Daisy Kler, a social worker with Vancouver Rape Relief. "I do not believe the public would agree that this is a good idea, to have some disposable women available for the Olympics."

Last week, Calgary-based The Future Group released a report warning that Vancouver's Olympics will be a target of human traffickers wanting to exploit prostitution. The report, titled Faster, Higher, Stronger: Preventing Human Trafficking at the 2010 Olympics, said the federal and provincial governments need to deter traffickers from using the Games to profit from human misery.

Janine Benedet, an associate professor of law at the University of B.C., said the city already has hundreds of brothels. The only difference is that they operate illegally. Bringing in one for the Olympics, she said, is wrong.

"To the question, 'Is society ready for this?' my answer is, 'I hope not,'" said Benedet, who lectures on sexual violence. "The notion that this is somehow different or better than any of the other brothels out there is simply false."

Studies show more than 90 per cent of women in the sex trade are not there by choice, but rather because of trafficking, drug addiction and societal problems such as incest.

Benedet said the majority of Vancouver's prostitutes are native women, and many of them suffer from deep psychological trauma. Davis said a brothel run as a cooperative would not turn away prostitutes looking for a safe and clean place to do their business.

From the article linked to above under the word "false" (though actually on page two comes these facts:
United States: 56% don't want it legal, 88% want out now.

South Africa: 62% don't want it legal, 89% want out now

Thailand: 72% don't want it legal, 94% want out now

Turkey: 96% don't want it legal, 90% want out now

Zambia: 92% don't want it legal, 99% want out now

Amazing that pro-prostitution people bandy about how "legal" means safer and is what prostitutes want. I'd say that the study shows that prostitutes *don't* want prostitution to be legalised.

The trial of Robert Pickton, who is accused of the first-degree murder of 26 women, all of whom were either survival sex-trade workers or addicts, amplifies that point, she said. (see above)

"It would be better to be working inside in a bad place than it would be to be outside and getting killed," she said. "Our main focus is to help the adult prostitutes. We're focusing on the Downtown Eastside first because that's where so many of them are getting killed."

So why don't we address the real problem: that these women are seen as disposable. Many cities do not even investigate missing prostitutes until the numbers reach the double digits, which shows just how much these women are valued in society, i.e. they have less value then an unprostituted people.

Davis said the co-op has the support of federal politicians, including Davies, Liberal MP Hedy Fry and Senator Larry Campbell, the former Vancouver mayor. Davies said she supports the coalition's idea of the co-op, and also wants to see prostitution decriminalized. (again, see above)

Society's prohibitionist stance against the sex trade hasn't solved the problem that men continue to seek out women for sex, she said. While she is opposed to child prostitution, she doesn't think adult prostitution should be illegal.

"Where there is sex between two consenting adults, even if there is money exchanged, I don't think the state should prohibit it," Davies said. "I think even the police would agree that the current situation is not tolerable, and that we need safer conditions for sex-trade workers."

But Vancouver police department spokesman Const. Tim Fanning said a brothel can't legitimize an industry that completely victimizes women.

"You can call it what you want, but prostitution is just a breath short of slavery," he said. "These women are not in it by choice. The police department would in no way support anything like a brothel."

WOOT WOOT! Unfortunately I am shocked that a Constable actually understands what prostitution does to women, but it is a very welcome surprise.

Davis said better "exit" strategies are needed to help prostitutes who want to leave the industry. But she thinks prostitution as a whole should be accepted instead of stigmatized. She said as an example, she services many elderly men whose wives either won't have sex with them or who are widowers and don't want long-term relations.

Isn't that sweet. A modern day Mother Theresa. *rolleyes*

But Kler saw Davis's proposal as a thinly disguised attempt to legalize an industry she sees as akin to slavery.

"Fundamentally, it's not the laws that kill, beat and rape women, it's men," she said. "The mantra in this city is that it's safer, it's safer, it's safer. We fundamentally see prostitution as a form of violence against women. If you are coming from a women's equality perspective, as we are, fighting for the equal status of women, we see that there is no benefit to women as a group to legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution." (did I mention that Daisy kicks ass? but then again, Vancouver Rape Relief also kicks ass)

The idea of brothels is not new to Vancouver. In 2005, then-councillor Tim Louis suggested the city should open one to support prostitutes as long as it didn't make money from it, prompting Sullivan, then a mayoral candidate, to say: "The goal should be to help these women get out of the survival sex trade, not keep them in it. I'm running to be mayor to help people, not to get into the business of being a pimp."

But the approach of the Winter Games has brought the issue to the fore again. The Olympics, like many major sporting events, traditionally generate a boost in prostitution.

Victor Malarek, author of the best-selling book The Natashas: Inside the New Global Sex Trade, said more than 40,000 women and girls were brought to Athens for the 2004 Summer Games.

For the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, more than 20,000 women were imported. In both countries, prostitution is legal, but the vast majority of those brought in were foreigners from countries like Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.

While Canada's immigration laws and visa requirements will prevent many foreign prostitutes from being trafficked in Vancouver for the Games, Malarek says the reality is that the 2010 Winter Games will be no different than other Olympics.

"You're going to open up a Pandora's box if you allow even one legal brothel," he said.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, the federal government's senior minister in B.C., and the Vancouver Organizing Committee declined to comment. (to contact the author of this article)

To learn more about what pornography (taped prostitution) and prostitution are really like you should visit (for starters anyway):
Prostitution Research and Education
Against Pornography
Polaris Project
Factbook on Global Sexual Exploitation
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women International


Rebecca said...

This is very depressing. Personally. I don't know what they mean by a "co-op" brothel. I suppose that the women will have to co-operate with the punter's wishes, however dangerous it is.
I think that brothels and clubs puts the women in a great deal of danger. For, it is almost impossible to refuse what the men want.
I work in a club as a teenager. Behind closed doors, the men that visited that place wanted girls who were underaged, and that could as sadistic as they like.
This is the conditions of many brothels. The women have no true rights.

hexyhex said...

Rebecca: A "co-op" brothel is a brothel run by a group of self-managed workers, operating more or less non-hierarchically with no "boss".

It's usually done with the stated intention of increasing safety over working alone or for a manager/pimp/boss, and for saving the women money in terms of initial expenditure of setting up a brothel and things like advertising/whatever registration fees are required, etc.

The money saving factor is one thing... whether a co-op is actually safer or fairer than any other brothel really depends on the situation.

Rebecca said...

I was being sarcastic. Although the concept of a co-op brothel appears to be a good option, I feel there is little evidence that the women will safe. Prostitutes are conmmodities that have little choice in what the "buyers" want them to do. For many brothels to make a profit, especially where there is competition, it often offers more choice - i.e. more dangerous types of sexual acts. I may be cynical - but maybe having an co-op brothel is just to stand out in a market that overcrowded.

lost clown said...

To Anon who asked me to publish a dissenting opinion:

your link is full of sexism and "what about the menz" bullshit. Ahem:

A man with the same level of skills and education as a whore isn't even qualified to be a long-distance truck driver (a job worse than whoring).

This statement shows a fundamental lack of understanding as to how bad prostitution really is for women, and if you want to dismiss that there's nothing I can really say to you other then no misogynistic/woman hating/anti-women/anti-feminism comments will be published.


hexyhex said...

Ah, my apologies!

lost clown said...

To TristanPEJ:

I saw the misogyny on your site (and your total ignoral of the fact that studies have show that *most* women want out of prostitution NOW (I even linked to it!) to point your finger at the 2% of happy hookers and comparing me to a fundamentalist christian because I KNOW that most women are forced into prostitution (the average age is's 12 yo now) and would love to do another job.

Needless to say you can bash me all you want, not only do studies back up my point, but also my personal experience working with prostituted women. YOU just want to think most prostitutes love their work because you view women as the sex class.

As I state at the top of my blog misogynist (asshats) need not even try to comment.

Kate the Great said...

Seeing people talk about being able to buy a woman with such an air of entitlement makes me sad to be one.

Keep up the good work, LC :)

lost clown said...

Ahhh, Tristan, you will never be published...and if you don't want to be called a misogynist I suggest you stop acting like one.

You want to sue me for libel? I can sue you right back for calling me a man-hater, which isn't true. I just hate assholes like you who don't understand all the things that lead to prostitution. If it was so easy to get out, why don't all those who want to get out leave? Because it is NOT easy. You are delusional and obviously know nothing about how women are forced into prostitution. I suggest you read the links and learn more then your mythical idea that everyone is a happy hooker.

And in a free and *actually* equal society I see only prostitution by that handful of happy hookers you allude to. But we don't, we live in a society that sees women as the sex class.

But seriously, your arguements are making me laugh. Please keep refering to me as having xtian values. That's the most amusing thing, I can't wait to tell my friends.

lost clown said...

On my "censorship" From the top of my blog, and I quote:

"And if you're mean, misogynistic, or in any other way effed up I will delete you. And yes, it is at my discretion. Whine about it elsewhere."

L.M. said...

Here's another article about it:
"Any sex worker could join for a nominal fee and be able to rent clean rooms cheaply, she said. Although they would share expenses, members would set their own fees and keep their profits"
So that makes me wonder ... does this help homeless prostitutes? Desperately poor women forced to prostitute themselves for drug addictions, or just food and shelter? Sex slaves, or prostitutes under the thumbs of their pimps? Underage prostitutes? Trafficked prostitutes, or prostitutes who are undocumented immigrants (considering that in many wealthy Western countries, most of the prostitutes are from poorer parts of the world)?

Anonymous said...

Statement by Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude

We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.

As women who have been prostituted in Vancouver and in the light of these facts :

• That current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated
• That there is currently a proposal to open a legal brothel in Vancouver
• That this proposal is said to speak for current and former prostitutes of Vancouver
• That this proposal promises to make the lives of prostituted women “safer” at best
• That none of us have ever met a prostituted woman who would not leave the “trade” if she had a real chance to do so
• That we are women who have been abused on Canadian soil, by Canadian men while all levels of our Government did nothing to intervene.
• That some members of parliament are now advocating to legalize that abuse.

We want you to know :

We are women who have been harmed by prostitution. We believe that no amount of changing the conditions or the locations in which we were prostituted could ever have significantly reduced that harm. We experience the normalizing of that harm by calling it “work” insulting at best.

It matters very little to us whether we were prostituted on the streets or in the tolerated indoor venues and escort agencies of Vancouver. Our memories are not of the locations but of the men who consistently acted as though we were not quite human. We remember the countless other men and women who daily averted their eyes. We remember the utter lack of services or options that made any sense and the blatant denial of access to any kind of help or justice. We remember the need to “dumb down” our sense of entitlement to a better life so we could bear the one we were in. And we remember too well the numbing despair that came when we finally lost faith that there existed in this world anything decent and good.

We oppose any measure that would put more power in the hands of the men who abused us by telling them that they are legally entitled to do so. This proposal does not speak for us, would not have affected our level of safety in a way that matters, and would not have spared us the harm that is inherent in prostitution.

We are not impressed with lip service proposals to make prostituted women’s lives “safer”. Safer is not good enough. We consider it a violation of our human rights that we were abandoned to years of situations that fit the definition of sexual assault under current law. But not only is this violence not recorded, not prosecuted, not punished. We are now being told that we chose it.

We believe that, where there is public and political will, lives can be changed for the better. We do not believe the lie that prostitution is inevitable. We believe it can be abolished.

As hosts of the 2010 games, we want our city, our home, to refuse to take part in the global flesh market that is sex tourism and send a message to the world that women will not be sold in Vancouver.

We believe that every sexually exploited woman represents a life wasted. We are greatly saddened for the lives of women lost in prostitution, as well as the loss of the sum of the contributions that countless women still living would have made had they not been abandoned to sexual slavery.

We urge you all to refuse to believe that prostitution is normal or that is an equal exchange ”between two consenting adults”. We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.

X-PALSS (Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude), Vancouver, B.C.

E-Mail :

Anonymous said...

Calling former "Sex Trade Workers"

• Are you a woman who at some time “worked” as a prostitute, a dancer, in a massage parlour, in the adult film industry or in any other area related to the sex industry

So am I

• Are you tired of hearing prostitution described as a choice and do you have a different story to tell

So am I

• Are you interested in talking to other former sex trade workers who are telling the truth about their lives, the world they want for their daughters, for all girls and women, and how that world can come about

So am I
Lets get together

Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual Servitude
And I will be happy to send you more information
Confidentiality assured

“Find out just what people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them”
Frederick Douglass - Abolitionist

Anonymous said...

Aboriginal Women's Action Network

As Aboriginal women on occupied Coast Salish Territory, we, the Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN) implore you to pay attention to the voices of Aboriginal women and women's groups who are speaking out in the interest of our sisters, our daughters, our friends and all women whose voices have not been heard in the recent media discussion on prostitution and legalized brothels for the 2010 Olympics.

We, the Aboriginal Women’s Action Network, speak especially in the interests of the most vulnerable women - street prostitutes, of which a significant number are young Aboriginal women and girls. We have a long, multi-generational history of colonization, marginalization, and displacement from our Homelands, and rampant abuses that has forced many of our sisters into prostitution. Aboriginal women are often either forced into prostitution, trafficked into prostitution or are facing that possibility. Given that the average age at which girls enter prostitution is fourteen, the majority with a history of unspeakable abuses, we are also speaking out for the Aboriginal children who are targeted by johns and pimps. Aboriginal girls are hunted down and prostituted, and the perpetrators go uncharged with child sexual assault and child rape. These predators, pervasive in our society, roam with impunity in our streets and take advantage of those Aboriginal children with the least protection. While we are speaking out for the women in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, we include women from First Nations Reserves, and other Aboriginal communities, most of whom have few resources and limited choices. We include them because AWAN members also originate from those communities, and AWAN members interact regularly with Native women from these communities.

The Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of prostitution, and any state regulation of prostitution that entrenches Aboriginal women and children in the so-called "sex trade." We hold that legalizing prostitution in Vancouver will not make it safer for those prostituted, but will merely increase their numbers. Contrary to current media coverage of the issue, the available evidence suggests that it would in fact be harmful, would expand prostitution and would promote trafficking, and would only serve to make prostitution safer and more profitable for the men who exploit and harm prostituted women and children. Although many well-meaning people think that decriminalization simply means protecting prostituted women from arrest, it also refers, dangerously, to the decriminalization of johns and pimps. In this way prostitution is normalized, johns multiply, and pimps and traffickers become legitimated entrepreneurs. Say "No" to this lack of concern for marginalized women and children, who in this industry are expected to serve simply as objects of consumption! The Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of brothels for the 2010 Olympics. We refuse to be commodities in the so-called "sex industry" or offer up our sisters and daughters to be used as disposable objects for sex tourists.

A harm-reduction model that claims to help prostituted women by moving them indoors to legal brothels, not only would not reduce the harm to them, but would disguise the real issues. There is no evidence that indoor prostitution is safer for the women involved. Rather, it is just as violent and traumatic. Prostitution is inherently violent, merely an extension of the violence that most prostituted women experience as children. We should aim not merely to reduce this harm, as if it is a necessary evil and/or inescapable, but strive to eliminate it altogether. Those promoting prostitution rarely address class, race, or ethnicity as factors that make women even more vulnerable. A treatise can be written about Aboriginal women’s vulnerability based on race, socio-economic status and gender but suffice it to say that we are very over-represented in street-level prostitution. There may even be a class bias behind the belief that street prostitution is far worse than indoor forms. It is not the street per se or the laws for that matter, which are the source of the problem, but prostitution itself which depends on a sub-class of women or a degraded caste to be exploited. A major factor contributing to the absence of attention given to the women who have gone missing women in Vancouver is the lack of police response, and the insidious societal belief that these women were not worthy of protection, a message that is explicitly conveyed to the johns, giving them the go-ahead to act toward these women with impunity. If we want to protect the most vulnerable women, we could start by decriminalizing prostituted women, not the men who harm them. Although it is not mentioned in the local news, the Swedish model of dealing with prostitution provides an example we should seriously consider. It criminalizes only the buying of sex, not the selling, targeting the customer, pimp, procurer, and trafficker, rather than the prostituted woman, and provides an array of social services to aid women to leave prostitution. Given that the vast majority of prostituted women wish to leave prostitution, we should focus on finding ways to help them to do that rather than entrenching them further into prostitution by legalizing and institutionalizing it. Here in Vancouver, if we are to help those most in need, young Aboriginal women, it would help to think more long-term, to focus on healing and prevention. Let's not get tricked into a supposed fix which is not even a band-aid, but only deepens the wounds.

AWAN demands that Aboriginal women have the opportunity to raise our families within our Traditional values of having a respected position for women and children in our societies. The single-most effective way of achieving that goal is empowering and resourcing Aboriginal women’s groups, such as AWAN, so that we can organize, engage with other sectors of society and speak with our own voices. We have a great deal of certainty that organized Aboriginal women’s voices would be calling for "Exiting" programs and services, support for Aboriginal women and children, and an end to forced prostitution. Let Vancouver enter into the 2010 Olympics without wearing the black-eye of decriminalized prostitution and legalized brothels that drive Aboriginal women further down the Human Rights ladder of Canadian and Vancouver society.

For further information, please contact AWAN spokesperson, Laura Holland at (604) 767-5564.

Trisha said...

To Anyone Using Our Daughter's Legacy,

It has come to our attention that there is a group of people who wish to legalize prostitution and set up a brothel in Vancouver. As the parents of Marnie Frey, who was murdered by Robert "Willie" Pickton, we believe that both these ideas are very dangerous recommendations.

Our daughter was forced into prostitution because of the need to feed her addiction to drugs. To think of prostitution as a ‘job’ and treat it as such is ridiculous. I am disgusted to think that anyone would think that prostitution is a job. It is not.

It is violence against women.

Neither legalizing prostitution nor having a brothel would have prevented the murder of our daughter. The women of the Downtown Eastside need meaningful solutions to their addictions.

We tried on numerous occasions to have Marnie admitted to drug rehabilitation facilities, but found that to be very difficult because of the chronic lack of beds and funding for such places. When an addict reaches out for help, the resources should be available immediately. To think the best we can do for these women is giving them a safe place to sell their bodies is a joke. There is no such thing as a "clean safe place" to be abused in.

For a man to think he can buy a woman's body is insane, and should show us the attitudes that women have to fight against in society. Marnie did not choose prostitution; her addictions did, and any man who bought her body for their sexual pleasure should go to jail for exploiting her desperation.

What we need are facilities to get women off and away from drugs and keep other young girls from this horrible lifestyle by helping them when they are still young. Anything else would be a cop out and further fuel the abuse of women as playthings for men, who prey on sick, disadvantaged and hurting women.

My wife and I feel the legalization of prostitution and/or a brothel is not the answer. We ask that you IMMEDIATELY stop using the name and memory of our daughter to fight for a brothel or to legalize prostitution.

Marnie's name CAN be used to fight for more detox beds, more recovery beds, funding for long term counseling, making it illegal for men to buy the use of women's bodies and enforcing these laws. Her legacy CAN help in the fight towards women's equality, which cannot happen as long as we keep our women for sale.

We know we have a lot of support from other families of Pickton's victim's, in the community as well as across our Nation, who feel as we do. Prostitution in no way should be accepted as normal or legalized.

Yours truly,
Rick and Lynn Frey (Parents of Marnie Frey)