Since the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the existing laws surrounding sex work last December, the conversation around sex work and how it should be legislated has ramped up – with several options being suggested. Unfortunately, not everyone involved (esp. those concerned with creating the legislation) really understands what it means to be sex worker and the issues surrounding their job.
Here are a few things you should know about being a sex worker:
1. Most people don’t plan for this life – but some do.
Living off a minimum wage job, especially while going to school, makes it very difficult to support yourself and/or your family. Some sex workers are just homeless or hungry or have been thrown out of their homes – not all are involved with drugs and have a pimp – an often incorrect assumption.
2. The struck down legislation made it dangerous to work.
Communicating with clients in public, living off the avails of sex work and owning a brothel were the three laws struck down last December by the Supreme Court of Canada – which made sex work very difficult for those involved in the industry. Not being able to effectively and clearly communicate your services and costs, not having a safe place to carry out those services and being scrutinized for living off of your profits makes prostitution seem illegal – when the actual act of exchanging money for sex is not. Sex work is real work, and having laws the prevent safe working environment make working in the industry dangerous. Like all other work placers, employees should feel safe where they’re working and confident that their work will be compensated accordingly without fear of being arrested.
3. Advertising as a Sex Worker
Many escorts used to advertise through Craigslist – which used to be free. However, a few years ago they removed their adult services section forcing escorts to advertise via Backpage or pay for an ad in the paper – which can cost double or triple the amount of a non-adult ad. If an escort can’t afford to pay for ads, they often turn to pimps or they became homeless. After expenses, some escorts only make $40, if they’re lucky. Besides the fear of being caught, many sex workers fear getting arrested, being judged by their family, friends and public. If the government were to support sex workers, a lot of stigma and fears sex workers presently have would be greatly diminished.
4. The Problem w/ Red Light Districts
If Canadian cities implement Red-light districts, some opponents suggest it will only bring escorts/sex workers from other countries. Some sex workers don’t like the idea of registering or working for the government because they can no longer be discreet. Their information would be stored in a database, and some sex workers don’t like the idea of that information being made available. Arguably, some sex workers would choose to go deeper underground – where they would be in even more danger than previously.
If sex work is decriminalized, a system that allows sex workers to anonymously and voluntarily register as sex workers could be made available – that way sex workers have a choice and they won’t feel like they’re being forced into giving up their personal information. Escorts should be able to operate like other businesses – and be accountable like other businesses.
If the government chooses to go with the proposed Nordic model – charging the johns, but not the escorts – they’ve created a huge supply with no demand.
Whatever work you do, you deserve to do it in a safe and productive environment – and those who choose to step out of line should be punished – and for no other reason.
Sourced from The GridTO