hate crimes against sex workers
In the BCCEC report, "From the Curb" Sex workers who participated listed the following acts as violence;
- Physically being beaten, raped or assaulted by dates, pimps and drugs dealers
- Being ignored, belittled, humiliated, sworn at, shunned by police and public for being a "dirty ho, crack whore, or slut"
- Having items thrown at them from vehicles- (very common)
Sex workers commented that even children threw garbage at them. People in cars throw beer bottles, pennies, pop and hot coffee. One respondent lost part of her ear due to an assault by a non sex working woman in which the woman threw a beer bottle at her while she was working on the street. Sex workers in our consultation described the pain of being "beaten down by words". Experiences of robbery were also very prevalent amongst respondents. Workers felt they were more at risk after they had made some money.
- "Any type of mistreatment is violence because people don't care what happens to our kind."
- "Being looked at like you're less"
- "Saying no to allowing us use of their phone or washroom- it leaves us depending on dates and other people who like to harm us."
- "Being mistreated by the public"
- "People laugh at me"
- It's like they take this beautiful thing we have... the ability to give love, and they destroy it."
- "Johns demean you like you are merely flesh that doesn't deserve respect like anyone else"
- "It's dangerous out there, especially recently with incidents of getting stripped, ripped off, pushed out of the car naked and hit."
Sex workers described violence as activities ranging from public humiliation and social exclusion to more extreme incidents of beatings, sodomy, rape, extreme violence and the abduction and murder of their friends.
Overwhelmingly sex workers agreed that violence against our community should be considered a hate crime. They also noted that doing so puts their violent experiences into a deeper context. They expressed that violence against our population is done with "specific intent to cause harm" due their social identity and compounded by their sheer accessibility.
The Sex Industry Community as a distinct culture
Currently violence against sex workers is not considered a hate crime. Although most can agree that there's not much difference between a truck full of good 'ol boys in white hoods jumping in the truck to drive downtown and find some to lynch and a bunch of teenagers jumping in their car to go downtown and throw things at "crack whores". The most disturbing aspect of this is that most of our community members reported the majority of attacks of this nature were being committed by women.
When we delve into history a bit we find references to the sex industry all through out recorded time; Always kept separate, always a distinct and secretive culture. A difficult revelation about recent history is that women in fact are responsible for a lot of the stigma sex industry community member live with today. In 1917 when women received the vote in the War Time Election Act one of the first actions influenced by their vote was the implementation of prohibition. Drugs, alcohol, gambling and sex were all made illegal. Unfortunately for sex industry workers that made us as people illegal.
During this time sex workers were put into asylums under the guise that they were somehow mentally ill thus their immoral behavior. This attack on sex workers in particular female sex workers by other women resulted in great pain and in some cases death for the workers affected. These women went as far as to create an ad campaign depicting sex workers as evil and as the vectors of disease. Their campaign of speeches, posters and radio spots was so broad and far reaching that this stigma exists to this day. We can see in the high numbers of women reportedly attacking sex industry community members and in the way feminist abolitionist groups still promote sex industry workers as victims, helpless and unable to defend or look after our selves. This latest campaign of hatred has gone on for 100 years some of us refer to it as the prohibition war. Since the beginning of this war human rights have come to the fore front and now the sex industry community is seeking recognition as a distinct culture deserving of protection under the charter. We hope to end the campaign to "end sex work" and have our rights to choose employment, be protected from hate propaganda against us, and to be protected from discrimination based on who we are.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law
- Any advocacy or national, racial, cultural or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.
- 1. all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, color, sex, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
International Declaration of Human RightsArticle 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person
- 2. The states parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safe guard this right.
- 3. The steps to be taken by a state party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programs, policies and techniques to achieve stead economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safe guarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.