Vancouver police, sex workers blast Salvation Army campaign

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Vancouver police, sex workers blast Salvation Army campaign

Vancouver police, sex workers blast Salvation Army campaign

By Stuart Hunter, The ProvinceSeptember 25, 2009 7:22 AMComments (2)   A consortium of sex-trade workers, legal experts and Vancouver police are slamming a Salvation Army ad campaign they say is misleading, debasing to woman and sensational.

The Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group says that although the ad campaign is meant to increase public awareness about human trafficking, it instead endangers sex-trade workers.

"Street-based sex-trade workers are coming in to agencies . . . saying they feel incredibly assaulted by the campaign," said group chairwoman Tamara O'Doherty. "They are feeling very targeted. We want to make people aware this campaign was done with no consultation with anyone working in the sex-trade industry."

The Salvation Army campaign featured posters placed in bar bathrooms and billboards in the Downtown Eastside, as well as radio and TV items, presenting images of young women being beaten and abused.

The Christian social-services group launched its campaign last September, fearing a spike in such trafficking as the 2010 Winter Olympics approach.

Sally Ann spokesman Jonny Michel apologized to women upset by the ads, but said the intentions behind them were good -- and insisted the ads are staying put.

"We were not targeting sex-trade workers," Michel said. "The focus is not on the general sex trade, it is focused on the women being forced to have sex against their will."

The Salvation Army will open the first shelter for trafficking victims in Canada next fall in B.C. It will be a 10-bed facility staffed 24 hours.

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