This month's Justice Committee hearings concerning Bill C-36, the Conservative government's proposed sex work legislation, missed a critical mark. While important issues ranging from the bill's constitutionality and impact on sex workers' experiences of violence, to its impact on sex trafficking and police powers were discussed, dissected and debated, there was a very notable oversight: almost no one was talking about the health of sex workers -- and their right to it.
In December 2013, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the criminal code on sex work violates the constitution because it prohibits sex workers from taking measures to protect their personal security. The government has one year to draft new legislation, and recently held a public consultation on 'Prostitution-Related Offences.' Among the many personal security issues at stake for sex workers, which the government must consider in drafting new legislation, is the risk of HIV infection.
PASAN is a community organization, based in Toronto, that seeks to reduce harm for prisoners and ex-prisoners. Their work is based around AIDS/HIV and hepatits C education, awareness and activism. After 23 years of service, PASAN is one of the only grassroots organizations providing health education to prisoners and ex-prisoners.
They have an incredible list of health resources on their website, including info sheets on safer drug practices and disease self-management practices. The organization has also developed resources directed specifically to Aboriginals, trans prisoners, women and other minorities.
PASAN also offers the following services:
-emergency financial assistance