my name is susan davis and i am a sex worker and testified in the charter challenge currently underway in Canada. we are hoping to establish and ethical and transparent system of self governance for the sex industry and to implement labour standards;
Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission
During the "Developing Capacity for Change Project" -Coop development work shops, workers expressed how a trade association and a branding or certification process could support safer work conditions over all and stabilize the existing safer indoor venues that exist now. The development of occupational health and safety training was also seen as a way to give people entering and in the sex industry the tools to make safe decisions about their work. It was agreed that all stake holders including business owners and consumers should be engaged to contribute to the design of the future of our industry.
Currently a charter challenge is underway to bring down the laws governing sex work. This action will only be successful if as an industry we can prove our ability to self govern and police ourselves. In the next 10 years we must agree to respect each other and treat each other with dignity. This will be an enormous task but an absolutely necessary one none the less. If we cannot demonstrate the ways in which we have traditionally maintained the stability of our industry, the system at large will most likely impose whatever laws it sees fit and we as an industry will be faced with another disaster.
With this in mind, the BCCEW/C set out to engage sex industry workers in beginning the process and determining whether or not there is industry support for such an action and what the structure of such an organization might look like.
The following actions and recommendations emerged as common themes from dialogue with all stakeholders including consumers, business owners and workers.
"Establish a consortium of sex industry stakeholders to develop an Industry Association and negotiate where there are areas of commonality. ie. violence, consumer theft, health and safety, and industry stability."
"Develop Standardized Health and Safety Training for Sex Industry Workers and consumers in partnership with ALL stakeholders including business owners."
"Develop and implement a certification process in partnership with all stakeholders to stabilize and promote sex industry businesses (inclusive of independent workers as businesses). Design an industry association seal or brand to distinguish those businesses that support and have received certification for the negotiated health and safety standards and training."
"Design a complaints process and penalty system in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self governance and enforcement for the sex industry."
"Support the formation of craft unions or trade guilds for all aspects or jobs within the sex industry."
"Establish a system of communications between the sex industry and those agencies who have traditionally had the role of policing or monitoring the industry such as the police, license inspectors and social work/ support agencies to prevent misunderstandings about safety issues within the industry."
All over Canada, law enforcement seem to be stepping up attacks on our community. Raids in Halifax, Winnipeg, Grand Prairie, Ottawa and Vancouver have left the indoor escort and massage community shaken. 20 show lounges in Vancouver have closed since 1990 and neighbouring Coquitlam have just passed a by-law outlawing "sundry" or "undesirable" business including massage parlours and exotic show lounges.
We know historically how the elimination of employment choices and safe work environments has slowly but surely whittled away at the safety and stability of the sex industry and its workers. The lack of job opportunities caused by enforcement against us is forcing people to choose sex industry work outside of their comfort zone and contributing to increasing numbers of workers forced into the dangerous street level trade.
Recent raids also revealed another risk to our safety and I quote " It was like- bang crash- and I was on the ground...I looked up to see 5 guns pointed at my head, my husband also on the ground and my son....with a gun pointed at him". My friend expressed that she looked up at one young "rookie" officer and thought "this is the guy who is going to kill me..."
Police Services in Canada do not have a good record for showing restraint and our fear is a worker or business owner will be accidentally shot or killed during one of these enforcement actions. The emotional impacts of standard police procedures are immeasurable as well. Long terms effects of trauma on people are well documented and will no doubt play a role in the lives of affected business owners and workers.
In conversations with affected business owners and workers I described our industry association plans in an attempt to offer some hope. Many I spoke with were interested in joining...immediately...so I felt maybe we could push our plans forward just a little so workers and business owners in other parts of the country could begin to organize but with a unified thread/ set of goals/ vision.
So to begin BCCEC members decided to draft Terms of reference for a national industry association and present them to the sex industry community for scrutiny, concerns and editing.
700 people reviewed and contributed the terms of reference and BCCEC members have formalized what will be known for now as the Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission or CAEC.
It has been acknowledged these "Temporary/ Draft Terms of Reference" are an emergency measure intended to support workers and businesses who are under scrutiny and that and a far more detailed description of governance and conflict resolution will be necessary to attain our goal of self governance for the sex industry.
Terms of Reference for Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission
Sex Industry Stakeholder- A person who has experience working within, providing services to, running a business in, or purchasing services/products from the sex industry.
These Terms of Reference were created to ensure localized organizing in various constituencies across Canada have a common set of goals and processes.
- To come together as an industry for the purpose of increased safety and stability for all stakeholders in the sex industry inclusive of workers, support workers, business owners, and consumers.
- To empower and unify sex industry communities inclusive of all genres and genders to increase the security and stability of the sex industry.
- To build community relationships, forge partnerships, identify and engage allies, and work with external expertise in pursuit of CAEC goals.
- To create a community where all sex industry stakeholders are respected and honoured for their experiences.
- To improve the occupational health, safety, and capacities of sex industry professionals as employees and contractors within a legitimized profession.
- To ensure consumers have access to resources, safely engage in sex industry consumption, can maintain discretion, are treated fairly, and have clear choices for ethical purchasing.
- To protect ethical business owners from arbitrary attacks upon their honour, reputation, and livelihood by law enforcement, former employees, and the system at large.
- To design a process in partnership with all stakeholders to provide a system of self-governance for the sex industry.
- To support the formation of craft unions, business improvement associations, consumer groups, and trade guilds, for businesses, consumers, and workers within the sex industry.
- Work towards safety and respect for all sex industry stakeholders regardless of their location within the industry;
- Ensure the inclusion of diverse communities, perspectives, capacities and expertise from the sex industry;
- Promote progressive thought, forward thinking, and continual positive exchange for the empowerment and education of sex industry stakeholders and the community at large;
- Keep harm reduction frameworks at the forefront and work toward social justice and social change to increase quality of life for sex industry stakeholders.
- Members must be active or former sex industry stakeholders, inclusive of but not limited to; street level, bath houses, massage parlours, ads/ internet, dancers, adult film, off street, phone sex, web cam, customers, support staff and business owners.
- Organizations who provide services for, are run by, or have a vested interest in the sex industry may become members and represent a community of sex workers. The number of members an organization represents will be accepted by CAEC as true and each individual member of that local will have a vote.
- Members of an organization or local that is a CEAC member will also be expected to sign on to these terms of reference.
- Locals or organizations who are members of CAEC may define their own membership criteria but only individual members who have signed and accepted CEAC terms of reference may be included/ represented as voting members. Non sex industry stakeholders may NOT join or vote within CAEC
- Must be 19 years or over;
- Vouched for by another stakeholder;
- Members may use a pseudonym or working name on applications.
- Events that happen at meetings stay at meetings.
- Project membership and personal information, identities of members, and their contact information must remain confidential.
- Industry association locals will hold personal information about members with the national body knowing only the number of members per local.
- The Canadian Adult Entertainment Commission (and its member groups/ locals) will hold this information in the strictest of confidentiality. No one shall be allowed access to this information unless they can prove a risk to the life or safety of a person. Each local will decide on a case-by-case basis if such a threat exists and if a person may be granted limited access to this information.
- Intellectual property and details about projects, strategies and plans are not to be shared with outside entities or individuals except when in the form of a communication strategy that has been designed and approved by the members of CAEC.
- Confidentiality extends even after leaving CAEC and must respect the sex industry stakeholders' rights of movement and the anonymity of those involved.
- Breach of confidentiality will lead to the immediate revocation of membership from CAEC.
- All existing and new members must sign a confidentiality agreement and sign on to the most current Terms of Reference.
please support transparency and accoutability in the sex industry!!
feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns