sex workers voices .......

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susan davis susan davis's picture
sex workers voices .......

some times i feel like this.....



LA PAZ (Reuters) - Prostitutes in the Bolivian city of El Alto sewed their lips together Wednesday as part of a hunger strike to demand that the mayor reopen brothels and bars ordered closed after violent protests by residents last week.

"We are fighting for the right to work and for our families' survival," Lily Cortez, leader of the El Alto Association of Nighttime Workers, told local television.

"Tomorrow we will bury ourselves alive if we are not immediately heard. The mayor will have his conscience to answer to if there are any grave consequences, such as the death of my comrades," she said, surrounded by about 10 prostitutes who had sewn their lips together with thread.

Some 30 other women were shown fasting inside a medical clinic nearby.

Mayor Fanor Nava told local radio he would not reopen the brothels and bars closed after city residents fed up with underage drinking and crime stormed the red-light district in El Alto, an impoverished city just north of La Paz.

Prostitution in Bolivia is legal but pimping is outlawed.

Student activists who want the bars and brothels permanently shut down were also on a hunger strike, along with the leaders of an association representing bars, restaurants and karaoke establishments.

"It's not only us owners and the sex workers who are affected, there are thousands of waiters, cooks, bartenders, taxi drivers and street vendors who will be without income," said Ramiro Orellana, spokesman for the business group.

El Alto is one of the largest urban areas in Bolivia, with nearly 1 million inhabitants, mostly Aymara and Quechua Indians.

© Reuters2007All rights reserved

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another article.....same event....


Prostitutes in El Alto, outside La Paz, sewed their lips together as part of a hunger strike to demand that the mayor reopen brothels and bars he ordered closed after residents fed up with under-age drinking stormed the red-light district last week. "We are fighting for the right to work," Lily Cortez, leader of the Alto Association of Nighttime Workers, said on local television. Prostitution in Bolivia is legal. She was surrounded by about 10 prostitutes who had sewn their lips together with thread. Some 30 other women were shown fasting inside a medical clinic nearby. The leaders of an association representing bars, restaurants and karaoke establishments were also on a hunger strike, as were student activists who want the bars and brothels to stay shut

susan davis susan davis's picture

As of Wednesday morning, Bolivia's "night workers" are on strike. Up to 35,000 prostitutes across the country have refused to report for the medical checkups required every 20 days to legally work the streets. By continuing to serve clients without ensuring they're disease-free, the sex workers' action raises the risk to public health. It comes in response to attacks in the city of El Alto last week in which citizens burned brothels and beat sex workers in protest against legal prostitution.

"We refuse to be STD-tested until we can work free from harassment," says Lily Cortez, president of the Night Workers of El Alto, the low-income city that borders La Paz, Bolivia's seat of government.

The rampage began after citizens demanded that brothels and bars be located at least 3,200 feet away from schools. Within 48 hours, angry mobs had taken matters into their own hands, burning more than 30 establishments. Hundreds of women and transvestites were forced to strip while their belongings were torched; dozens were beaten and mutilated as the police stood by and watched. "It was something we needed to do," says El Alto resident Roberta Quispe Mayta. "Now our husbands will behave better and the prostitutes will leave."

The municipal government responded by closing all brothels within 1,600 feet of schools, but took no action against those who had attacked the prostitutes. Left to work in the streets rather than in the relatively safety of the brothels, the sex workers have since become victims of police harassment, including physical abuse and arrest threats. The police have refused to comment on these actions.

The latest violence against Bolivia's sex workers is not surprising. Although the Supreme Court in 2001 legalized prostitution, which is widely practiced nationwide, the oldest profession has not gained the relative social acceptance it enjoys in some European countries. Instead, women and men in the sex industry have become scapegoats for everything from broken homes to the rising HIV-infection rate.

"We are Bolivia's unloved," says Yuly Perez, Vice-President of the National Organization for the Emancipation of Women in a State of Prostitution (ONAEM in its Spanish initials), the sex workers' union. "We are hated by a society that uses us regularly, and ignored by institutions obligated to protect us."

Indeed, the Supreme Court ruling requires that the Ministry of Health take full responsibility for the sex workers' safety and medical services. But the government has turned a blind eye to the recent events in El Alto, and has ignored the demands of the prostitutes. That, says the union, has left its members no option but to put their clients' health at risk until their security is guaranteed. Some sex workers have gone as far as mutilating themselves and sewing their lips together in order grab the nation's attention.

"We are mothers and breadwinners for our families," says Cortez. Like her co-workers, she earns less than two dollars per client. A "good night" can bring some 15 clients, but many nights aren't so profitable, and after kickbacks to brothel owners, the majority end up living day-to-day. "If we don't work, who's going to feed our kids?" she says.

The strikers see their action as part of a larger battle to make society understand that the sex workers are poor people struggling to survive, and not prostitution entrepreneurs. "People think the point of our organization is expand prostitution in Bolivia," says ONAEM's Perez. "In fact, we want the opposite. Our ideal world is one free of the economic desperation that forces women into this business." But in the meantime, her group "will fight tooth and nail for the rights we deserve."

The backlash against prostitution could escalate, however. El Alto officials are determined not to reopen any brothels within a 1,600-foot radius of schools, and there are rumors of similar citizen protests planned for the cities of Cochabamba and Sucre. The sex workers are hoping that the public health risk posed by their action forces the authorities to back down. But by refusing to undergo the medical checkups required to be able to work legally, it also potentially opens them to further police action.

susan davis susan davis's picture

WINNIPEG - About 100 people turned out for a  candlelight vigil tonight for Steven Yablonski,  a popular local drag queen, in front of the bath house where he and another man died Sunday in a fire. The crowd was about half women, half men.

Earlier, Yablonski's mother remembered her son as "kind" and "compassionate."

Steven Yablonski, 23, was one of two men who died in a suspicious blaze Sunday at the Aquarius Men's Bath at 457 Notre Dame Ave.

Yablonski's mother, Andrea, said her son loved to sing and dance at an early age.

"He had great stage presence," she said. "Everyone loved his singing. You could see he was a true entertainer."

Yablonski, also known as Kerri O'Kee, spent his childhood in and around Fraserwood amd Gimli, Man. He moved to Winnipeg two years ago and had been working at Pizza Hut. He had been planning to write and record a CD.

"I'll miss him, his smile and hugs and kisses," Andrea said. "He's in a better place. He's in heaven. He's in peace."

Meanwhile, Yablonski's friends have been mourning his death on Facebook. (Click here for performance video at U of M)

By early Monday morning, a group on the popular social networking site had been set up for Yablonski. Over 300 people have joined so far.

"A true entertainer and a tragic loss," wrote Stefan Maroni. "Always a smile on his face and a beautiful personality. You will be greatly missed."

"No matter where he goes I'm sure he is singing," said Ricardo Medeiros.

 One woman at the candlelight vigil placed a long-stemmed rose on the sidewalk for Yablonski. "I got yellow because it symbolizes courage," she said.

People lit white candles and milled about quietly.  Someone was handing out a songsheet with the lyrics to Hero by Julio Iglesias to be sung later. "It was Steve's favourite song," one man explained.

"We're here because this doesn't make any sense at all. When that happens, we have to come together," one many said, addressing the crowd.

"(Steve) loved doing charity work. He loved helping out as much as he could," another man said.

The fire began about 7 a.m. Sunday on the second floor of the two-storey building, which includes an upstairs suite. One man was found dead at the scene, and the other was conveyed to hospital in critical condition and died shortly after.

The building formerly trained taekwondo students. It was remodeled into a bathhouse. It served men only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and was co-ed other days.

"Like most small towns best crowd is on the weekends," it advertised on a web site. It also advertised a bondage room.

The fire is being considered suspicious, said a police spokesman.

The building is on the north side of Notre Dame between Gertie and Harriet streets, near the Balmoral Hotel.

A tenant in an apartment across the street witnessed the fire. "I heard glass breaking. It was a pretty big show. Just blazing," said the tenant.

Early damage estimates are $300,000 to the building and $200,000 to contents. The fire was contained to the second floor.

Cause of the fire is unknown. Winnipeg police and the arson squad are investigating


from a winnipeg sex worker....


My sympathy to the families and friends of the men who well as to Chai the owner and all the staff...

This place was one of my personal haunts until recently....It was also the place where I did my first Indy session....the place my husband and I first hooked up with another couple...the place where we held the first Winnipeg's Finest client appreciation many firsts....

Sometimes I would just go there to hide from the world and chill....


susan davis susan davis's picture

am i living in bolivia?....burn the brothels?  i thought we were a free nation and a nation who upholds human rights? are we....? i wonder if abolitionists feel any kind of responsibility for creating such fear and panic....regular people ony know what they know after tell them brothels are bad or "the work of the devil"...they will believe you....

flame on......i need to find a sewing needle......


I think the second post deserves it's own thread if there is a way to do that. It is unknown if arson was or wasn't involved but that Steven Yablonski was a drag queen doesn't mean he was a sex worker. While clearly there were private areas for adult activity the building was not a brothel.

The horrific events in Boliva illustrate that legalizing or decriminalizing prostitution is not a successful means through which to help marginalized women living in poverty.  The article mentioned 15 men at 2$ each in a good night and the brothel gets a cut of that. The women are living hand to mouth.

The Belize government has suggested prostitution as the equivalent of farm labour for men as an economic solution.  There are heavy pressures on women on welfare in Canada but I would rather fight for a just income then see them coerced into prostitution because it's "just a job".

Look how those poor women were treated, stripped and beaten while authorities watched. Citizens rioted because their communities were innundated with brothels. Legalization did not lead to some utopian world where sex workers would be desigmatized and respected. It seems their customers weren't interested in protecting them either. Where were the up to 15 johns per "sex worker"?

susan davis susan davis's picture

it was an incall, just like the bath house on hastings..or on pender.....a brothel it's all related...or are you just uncomfartable with the out come of your position?..... 

susan davis susan davis's picture

and what did bolivian women want? RIGHTS!!!read it all for christs sakes...


Prostitution is legal in Bolivia. Communities rioted and burned down bars and brothels. They didn't care if they were legal or not they wanted them out of their communities and away from the schools their children attended. The government shut down others for fear the same thing would happen.  Women do not want their husbands spending the family's money on booze and prostitutes. Testing for STDs once a month isn't particularly helpful when prostitutes are sleeping with 70 to a 100 men a week which means the wives are exposed too.

Offer the prostitutes jobs washing toilets with their bare hands and they would probably fall down on their knees in gratitude or leap with joy.

If money can be found to pay poor women in Canada to fuck men then it can be found to offer them more dignified forms of labor. For example, we have a nursing shortage in Canada. Offering the most vunerable women in our society prostitution as a career path insults the dignity of all women, no, of all Canadians.

Decriminalize sex workers not the pimps.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Infosaturated wrote:
 Offer the prostitutes jobs washing toilets with their bare hands and they would probably fall down on their knees in gratitude or leap with joy.

This is a hateful, classist and anti-sex worker statement. Do not speak of sex workers in such demeaning ways again, on any thread. This is a warning.

Thank you.

remind remind's picture

This thread should be closed, and never opened in the first place, as it is proliferation, and it could have easily gone under the harm reduction thread.


susan davis susan davis's picture

for some reason i get no notifications about the harm reduction thread....i felt this was more about human rights not harm reduction and in particular since the fire in winnipeg is being treated as suspicious.

close it if you like mads or move to the harm reduction thread.....


I don't see you following Infosaturated around asking her to close the numerous threads she's involved in or started.

It's one thing to not agree, it is quite another to bother susan and leave martin and infosaturated unremarked upon. 

This voice is valuable to a lot of people on here. Holding an opposite view does not allow one to apply rules to your view and not others.

remind remind's picture

Old goat closed other threads on this topic because of thread proliferation, and stated that info could be posted in the already open ones. And I agree with that decision and even made a complaint about the proliferation.

Now here is another thread opened about  the same thing, and it is being allowed to remain open.

And I am asking for fairness of application, not applying rules based on my view. Though nice attempt at a smear again stargazer, but it is becoming tiring and should be beneath you.

Also, I am NOT holding an opposite view from susan, so please do stop insisting that I am, stargazer.


martin dufresne

Do not speak of sex workers in such demeaning ways again, on any thread. This is a warning.


Threatening babblers is not kosher in my book. There have been enough women who have stated that they would leave prostitution if there was a job alternative that Infosaturated's echo of their call is in no way demeaning.



Oh too bad Martin, suck up your own priviledge.


And I didn't fucking "smear" you. Do you lot have pitchforks yet? The new rules do not allow for any comment that does not agree to be labled a fucking smear. Complain to the mods...

Maysie Maysie's picture

Martin, that is what a warning from a moderator looks like.


And this:

Inforsaturated wrote:
 Offer the prostitutes jobs washing toilets with their bare hands and they would probably fall down on their knees in gratitude or leap with joy.

is not echoing any voices that I have ever heard, of women who wish to leave sex work.

Maysie Maysie's picture

If we could return to the topic of the thread please. Thank you.

remind remind's picture

WTG stargazer, starting with the pitch fork meme again, so done with you.

remind remind's picture

Why is thread remaining open?


I really and truly no longer care. Once you've hitched yourself to martin, and follow every word of his on the voice of feminism, well, that is where we most definitely depart.

remind remind's picture

But seeing as how it is open I will repost this:


The Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of prostitution, and any state regulation of prostitution that entrenches Aboriginal women and children in the so-called "sex trade." We hold that legalizing prostitution in Vancouver will not make it safer for those prostituted, but will merely increase their numbers. Contrary to current media coverage of the issue, the available evidence suggests that it would in fact be harmful, would expand prostitution and would promote trafficking, and would only serve to make prostitution safer and more profitable for the men who exploit and harm prostituted women and children.


(decriminalization of johns and pimps) In this way prostitution is normalized, johns multiply, and pimps and traffickers become legitimated entrepreneurs. Say "No" to this lack of concern for marginalized women and children, who in this industry are expected to serve simply as objects of consumption! The Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of brothels for the 2010 Olympics. We refuse to be commodities in the so-called "sex industry" or offer up our sisters and daughters to be used as disposable objects for sex tourists.


A harm-reduction model that claims to help prostituted women by moving them indoors to legal brothels, not only would not reduce the harm to them, but would disguise the real issues. There is no evidence that indoor prostitution is safer for the women involved.


Given that the vast majority of prostituted women wish to leave prostitution, we should focus on finding ways to help them to do that rather than entrenching them further into prostitution by legalizing and institutionalizing it. Here in Vancouver, if we are to help those most in need, young Aboriginal women, it would help to think more long-term, to focus on healing and prevention. Let's not get tricked into a supposed fix which is not even a band-aid, but only deepens the wounds.


Okay...tweeeeeeeeeet!  Time out for a minute. :)

I'm thinking that perhaps a new forum specifically about sex work might be a good idea, since it's pretty difficult to be the thread proliferation police when there seems to be so much interest in the issue right now.  And it IS an advocacy issue, so I could put it in the "walking the talk" forums.

I think we might try that, and that way people can start threads on various aspects of the topic.  Because there seems to be a disconnect between what the mods and babblers feel constitutes "thread proliferation" on this subject.

remind remind's picture

Will that not limit it to being only pro-legalization?


No, of course not.  That's not what I had in mind at all.

susan davis susan davis's picture

AWAN [removed by moderator] about the intentions of canada's first sex workers cooperative and i have proof. an exchange of letters from 2 1/2 years ago in which i explained we did not want olympic brothels or carte balnche for opening brothels but they continued to promote the idea as if it was happening. young women migrating here from all over canada seeking money promised by anti trafficking campaigns even believe we already opened the brothel. one young woman i met between her seeing customers in cars behind the pub in the east end because she couldn't find a job in a parlour even asked how she could contact the coop brothel and i had to tell her it was not true.

we are focusing on ways to provide opportunities for exiting through other cooperative activities and would like to ask, exactly what have AWAN, rape relief or any other abolitionist group accually done to create sustainable exiting opportunities for sex workers?...

people offer toilette cleaning jobs and act as if we should be greatful, after all we're dirty whores, lucky to get any job, i mean we need people to clean toilettes.... so clean the toilette...

our plans for a cooperative cafe/restaurant/diner theatre could give people an opportunity to gain tangible, marketable skills and valuable work experience such as servin it right or food safe and a working environment that understood the symptoms of PTSD and didn't judge exiting workers for their symptoms....

all AWAN annd other people [removed by moderator] achieved was to undermine our attempts to find funding for our cafe. people only think of the brothel and no one considered other activies that could sugnificantly increase choices in particular for workers wishing to exit.



How is that possible? Everyone on here withthe exception of me and susan davis (an skdadl) are speaking the opposite. Your view is that of the dominant culture and given that you are all on the same side I highly doubt your anti-prostitution voices will be drowned out. One can only wish that what you want for yourself you'd see the other side needs. But carry on with info, martin and yourself. Ensure that all threads are about your POV. Make sure that every time a sex worker speaks, you all attack her. Make sure that when she posts counter arguments you don't bother responding, or repsond with the same cut and and paste from martin's handbook of how women should (well actually should not in this case) govern their bodies. Then make sure to argue that women really are being exploited and that nothing in the model proposed by susan would stop that. Once you're done that, make sure to start up other threads on the same thing, again drowning out the voices of sex workers. You're all doing a fine job. Keep prtending that this is all about patriarchy (because if you believed that you'd be standing behind susan - not pointing the verbal guns at her). You know patrarchy isn't going anywhere. I've already said we have to live in the real world. I understand that for you crowd that is one that doesn't include the voices of the sex workers seeking a challenge.

remind remind's picture

So now we have susan calling a group of activist aboriginal women liars and stated they violated her human rights, quite the accusations.

But apparently that is  okay, eh?!


Only in your mind remind.

remind remind's picture

Oh really?

Please do reread her post then.




No thanks.. I leave you guys alone with the pitchforks.


Maysie wrote:

Martin, that is what a warning from a moderator looks like.


And this:

Inforsaturated wrote:
 Offer the prostitutes jobs washing toilets with their bare hands and they would probably fall down on their knees in gratitude or leap with joy.

is not echoing any voices that I have ever heard, of women who wish to leave sex work.

Maysie, I have been thinking about the distinction between sex workers and prostitutes as a means of referral.  In my mind sex workers are like Susan. They are women who have freely chosen sex work as a profession and are content to remain within it.  When referring to Susan, and to women like Susan, I will always use the term sex worker.  However, ex-prostitutes use the term prostitutes to refer to women who are still in the business.

I'm sure neither Susan nor women like her would not rather wash toilets because like Susan they chose their profession.

The article describes the women of Bolivia surviving day to day by servicing up to 15 men a night for 2$ each which must be shared with the brothel owners. I do not consider these women to be willing sex workers. I do not believe I was being disrespectful to them. Washing toilets can be a nasty job and some people might consider it demeaning but many would also defend it as honourable if unpleasant. My reference is intended to convey my belief that the women being referred to in Bolivia would prefer that to their current existance. Aside from what these women endure for their megre existence they are also reviled by the community and without protection from mobs.

I stand by my statement with regards to the women referred to in this article.  That they would sew their lips together only speaks of their desperation and economic deprivation not the love of their work.


Stargazer wrote:

How is that possible? Everyone on here withthe exception of me and susan davis (an skdadl) are speaking the opposite. Your view is that of the dominant culture . ...

Make sure that when she posts counter arguments you don't bother responding, or repsond with the same cut and and paste from martin's handbook of how women should (well actually should not in this case) govern their bodies.

I think it's a bit much to suggest that the voices of Aboriginal women represent the dominant culture. Decriminalization also leads to an increase in trafficking of women and children. To dismiss that as a separate policing issue is to dismiss the concerns of marginalized women who cannot speak for themselves and are not part of the dominant culture.


Read for comprehension. No where did I say aboriginal women represent the dominant culture. I said you, remind and martin do.

Anyways, I'm gone from babble. This is not where I want to spend my time anymore - with the morality anti-prostitution crowd and anywhere where a man is deemed an expert on feminist issues (especially in sex work) because he used to be a john.

Perhaps when you guys are done trampling all over anyone person with a different view and maybe once certain people are gone. I'm out of here.At least martin and remind that they are being attacked and "smeared" every five threads.

You all won! Yay for you.

Susan, sorry I won't be here to help you but unionist skdadl and a couple of others respect what you have to say. If you post, I shall read but will no longer be posting here for awhile. maybe never depending on the dynamics.



martin dufresne

Re: posts 21-23.

It seems to me that the distinction between sex work and prostitution has been clearly established in past weeks. Depending on what advocate is speaking, "sex work" often includes many occupations and roles, including those of receptionist, john, brothel owner and sympathizer. Prostitution, however includes a multitude of specific women, youths (and marginalized men) that most sex work advocacy organizations do not claim to speak for: former prostitutes now at liberty to speak out, people in survival sex, women wishing to escape the life, enslaved women and youths, etc. So if the forum title is "sex work", it seems to me we will not be addressing their reality as we would be if we tried to address prostitution specifically. And anyone using any other word than "sex work(er)" will predictably be attacked as disrespectful. How can we avoid that?



susan davis susan davis's picture

remind wrote:

So now we have susan calling a group of activist aboriginal women liars and stated they violated her human rights, quite the accusations.
But apparently that is  okay, eh?!

i telephoned and emailed them to try to explain the intentions of the cooperative and they choose to launch their anti olympic campaign anyway undermining the activities of the coop none of which currently underway are related to the brothel. that was 2007 yet they still [removed by moderator] to further their cause in 2008 article of the georgia follows
From: Sent:December 12, 2007 10:15:18 PMTo:susan davis ([email protected])
Hello Susan,
Thank you for the Email and your phone call today.  It would be best at this point in time if you Email us with the information that you suggested presenting to us.  
With the holiday season fast approaching, it does not seem possible that we can meet with you & the two First Nations women you mentioned in your phone call today.
Best Regards,

From: susan
To: laura
Date: Sat, 8 Dec 2007 12:19:45 -0700

hi there!
my name is suan davis and i'm a sex worker of 21 yrs .
i am also the coop development coordinator for the sex worker cooperative we are opening with the sex workers in the downtown east side of vancouver.

i find it very difficult to hear your opposition to this action as it is the action called for by the sex workers themselves in the downtown east side.
we have a coop development team made up of the sex workers from that community and 2 of them are first nations sisters. the coop is not just the brothel. it is the foundation of the sex worker community beginning to rebuild and stabilize our safety.
i agree that no one should have to do sex work and that we must end the survival level trade.

Three Major points about the sex worker coop;

1.                          The coop will be owned by and operated by the sex workers who access it. Direction of the company and distribution of any profits will be voted on by the membership, sex workers from the downtown east side.

2.                          The coop is more than the safe work site. It also encompasses other community economic development activities  such as an art collective (every sex worker I know is an artist), coop catering company, coop publishing company, and coop consulting firm (we do training for the VPD, Fed government and wish to standardize these curriculums and allow other sex workers to be empowered through these engagements as well as get paid!)

3.                          The coop brothel will not go forward without extensive community consultation and an amnesty from the criminal code of Canada. We respect due process and feel strongly that a limited amnesty could be achievable in this case. We will not however go ahead without community support and do not want to put the police in a position where they have to arrest us.

please remember, we are trying to prevent people from being killed or hurt when they are forced to make these choices and engage in sex work. all we want is to give the sex workers in the east end what they are asking for, safety from violence while they work, a place to clean up after they work and the right to define what safety means to them for themselves.

these actions were designed by and for the sex worker community in the east end- please do not deny them the right of self determination and the right to be safe at work.

i would welcome any comments or concerns and would really love to opportunity to present your group with  our plan  for stabilizing the safety of the most vulnerable sex workers in the east end.

thank you
susan davis


march 6, 2008

Vancouver women's groups at odds over East Side brothels
By Pieta Woolley

A First Nations-led campaign to stop Canada's first official brothel is "kind of pathetic", according to the woman behind the safe house, sex-worker advocate Sue Davis.

The No 2010 Brothels campaign, organized by the Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN), is spearheaded by Fay Blaney, executive member of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, poverty-law advocate Carrie Humchitt, and elder Brenda Wesley, among others. The No 2010 Brothels campaign kicked off next to the Olympic clock on February 11, with AWAN member Carol Martin reading: "We refuse to...offer up our sisters and daughters as disposable objects for sex tourists."

Humchitt later told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview: "There was an assumption that all sex-trade workers were going to be supportive of a cooperative brothel. They [Davis's organization, the West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals (WCCSIP)] said they consulted with aboriginal women, but they didn't consult with us."

Since its 1996 founding, AWAN has also fought against restorative justice in cases of family violence-a measure that was supposed to be empowering but that AWAN said instead entrenches aboriginal women's victimization.

Meanwhile, WCCSIP is in the process of applying to the federal government for a two-year exemption from laws prohibiting brothels, so it can try it out. The safe house, Davis said, will feature a cooperative catering service, an art and publishing collective, and other activities to help build members' résumés and offer an exit strategy to those who want one. Plus, she said, it's impossible for Vancouver's sex-work conditions to be worse than they are right now.


"Those women [AWAN members] don't work on the street," Davis said in a phone interview with the Straight. "They're wealthy, privileged, and they don't understand their actions. This is not carte blanche on brothels. This is one limited opportunity to bring the East Side sex trade inside. Residents tell us that they don't want the condom mess; they don't want to look out their windows and see a woman giving a blow job. And the girls want the opportunity to wash themselves between customers."

These two opposing positions are nothing new. Is sex work a choice or a tragedy? Will decriminalization lead to empowerment or further marginalization? This year's Canadian International Women's Day Web page notes that "a woman's place in society marks the level of civilization of that society." For those women involved in sex work, both AWAN and WCCSIP would agree, the current level of civilization is pretty low. Davis noted that she'd "like one year in this city where a sex worker doesn't die". Everyone knows things need to change. But to what?

Internationally, the shape of the sex trade is fluctuating and presents few obvious solutions to Canada's situation. Two of the world's most famous decriminalized jurisdictions experienced major criticisms in 2007.

In December, Amsterdam's council voted to clean up the city's red-light districts. Eight years after legalizing sex work as a business (although prostitution had been technically legal in the Netherlands since 1830), the municipality is buying up brothels, conducting audits, and introducing zoning codes to crack down on two problems legalization did not fix: human trafficking and organized crime.

Similarly, after researching brothel-friendly Nevada, sex-trade researcher Melissa Farley published a book last year titled Prostitution and Trafficking in Nevada: Making the Connections. In it she argues that sex workers there-even in the "protected" ranch system-frequently experience abuse and are still usually under the control of pimps and traffickers. It echoes research she published in the June 2005 issue of Transcultural Psychiatry. Farley and her coauthors interviewed 100 Vancouver sex workers; 52 were members of First Nations, 82 were sexually abused as children (by an average of four different people), 72 were physically abused as children, and 95 reported that they wanted to leave the trade.

"Just as wife-beating was historically viewed as having been provoked by the victim," Farley, Jacqueline Lynne, and Ann Cotton wrote in Prostitution in Vancouver: Violence and the Colonization of First Nations Women, "prostitution is still viewed by some as a job choice."

In the midst of the debate, Vancouver East MP Libby Davies said citizens shouldn't look to the trio of upcoming elections for a solution to Vancouver's sex-trade dilemma. Davies told the Straight that because regulating the sex trade is probably never going to be an election issue, and the solutions are a political minefield, most politicians are afraid to address it.

"It gets sensationalized," she said. "So we need leadership from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments to allow the issues to be worked out. To me, it's an issue of great urgency."

According to Davies, AWAN versus WCCSIP is a false division. Everyone, she said, is really fighting for the same thing: the end of the survival sex trade, distinguished by its workers who are vulnerable because of drug addiction, a history of abuse, and no other choice. But getting commitments to better addiction services and poverty-alleviation strategies during an election campaign, she said, is the challenge


Whoa whoa whoa.

Sorry, but we can't be posting people's e-mail addresses here like that.  I'm going to remove them.

You also can't call individual people "liars" here because that leaves babble open to libel claims.  I'm also going to remove that from your post.  Sorry, but a difference of opinion does not mean someone else is a "liar".

Makwa Makwa's picture

I would like to suggest one resource, which demonstrates the ability and intelligence of developing world sex workers who are confronting AIDS, as told from the perspective of an WHO researcher, 

Elizabeth Pisani:  The Wisdom of Whores.


susan davis susan davis's picture

it is not a difference of opinion, it is these groups misrepresenting our activites out right. we never asked for olympic brothels. period yet they continued on with their campaign against olympic brothels as if we did ask for them. and they knew full well we did not want olympic brothels.....

i don't see how attacks like this can be seen as merely a difference of opinion.....we are not even working on any brothel. period. i am not a machine, i am only one person. i am focused on our cafe development as it seems the most attainible goal. these groups ignored my information which i openly share with everyone and continued to use the misinformation to raise awareness of their political position...or am i missing something....

we lobbied for public support for development of one cooperatively run, safe work site known as the coop brothel enterprise. as seen in action plan.

this misinformation has crippled our attempts to gain finacial support for developing a cafe to generate alternative income sources and exiting opportunities for sex workers....2 coop members have died since our incorporation...will we ever see any kind of movement forward?

susan davis susan davis's picture

sorry about the e-mail adresses, laura h is a very public persona so i just wanted to show it was AWAN members i had communicated with directly and the dates show my assertion of knowing, yet proceeding as if they didn't....

susan davis susan davis's picture

Made in Argentina: Slave Conditions for Bolivian Workers

Marie Trigona - 5/1/2006

Bolivian workers in Argentina are pressing the government to take action against slave-like conditions inside clandestine textile shops after a fire in a factory killed six people in Buenos Aires on March 30th. The government has initiated inspections of seamstress shops employing Bolivians and Paraguayans. Inspectors shut down at least 100 of these plants.

“We have had to remain silent and accept abuse. I'm tired of taking the blows. We are starting to fight compañeros, thank you for being here.” These are the words of Ana Salazar at an assembly of textile workers on a Sunday evening. The blaze that killed six people—including four children and two women—has brought light to abusive working conditions inside a network of clandestine textile plants in Buenos Aires.

Representatives from the Union of Seamstress Workers, an assembly of undocumented textile workers reported at least 8,000 cases of labor abuses inside the city's nearly 400 clandestine seamstress shops in the past months. Around 100,000 undocumented immigrants work in these unsafe plants with an average wage of $100 per month, if they are paid at all.

According to Olga, a textile worker who asked for her last name to be omitted because of safety issues, slave-like conditions in textile factories are systematic. “During a normal workday in a shop you work from 7 a.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. Many times they don't pay the women and they owe them two or three years pay. For not having our legal documents or not knowing what our rights are in Argentina we've had to remain silent. You don't have rights to rent a room or to work legally.”

In many cases the workers were drawn into the network through radio or newspaper adds in Bolivia promising decent wages, room, board, and transportation to Buenos Aires. Workers are transported in trucks and must cross into Argentina illegally. Once inside the textile factory they are forced to work 16 to 18 hours per day and are warned that if they complain they will lose their jobs and will be put out on the streets. Over 40 percent of workers live inside factories and in many cases they are locked inside. Witnesses said that 25 families were living in four square meter rooms inside the plant that caught fire.

The Union of Seamstress Workers (Union de Trabajadores Costureros, UTC) formed out of a neighborhood assembly in the working class neighborhood of Parque Avalleneda. Initially, the assembly was a social center for families on Sundays, the only day textile workers can leave the shop. Families began to gather at the assembly location, situated on the corner of a park. Later, Bolivian textile workers without any union representation formed the UTC because Argentina's traditional unions refuse to accept undocumented affiliates

susan davis susan davis's picture

$100 a month divided by 30 days=$3.33 a it isany wonder women would chose sex work seeing 70/100 cients a week at $2=$200 a week...double the average monthlty income availible to vulnerable an impoverished nation, i agree that choice is severly diminished but it no different in canada. people choose work over poverty everyday in canada and given rights that protect them. why are sex workers excluded from qualifying for safety and dignity at work as per the charter?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Infosaturated, that story you posted about  a German who had her benefits cut because she refused sex work is a fabrication.


You should check your sources before posting such blatant propganda.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Double post (I think this is my first in, like, seven years as a babbler or whatever. Wow!)

susan davis susan davis's picture

thankyou catchfire


[url=]Idiot Journalist of the Year[/url]

The year is only a month old, but it's not too early to start taking nominations. So far, at least two three journalistic numbskulls are definitely in the running. ... The second is Clare Chapman of the Daily Telegraph, who used bits and pieces from [url=]a story in a German tabloid[/url] to [url=]essentially make up[/url] a story about German unemployment agencies supposedly [url=;sessionid=ELRXQICSBGHCVQFIQMG... unemployed women into becoming prostitutes[/url].

When you quote a story that old, it generally pays to follow up and see if the original story held up. Apparently that one didn't.

ETA: Or I could have done the intelligent thing as Catchfire did and just check Snopes.


I know you from somewhere.


Nah. You must have me confused with someone else.


Edited to remove inaccurate information that I was a sucker not to check before posting.  I just don't want someone else skimming the thread to read it and fall for it like I did.


pogge wrote:

[url=]Idiot Journalist of the Year[/url]

The year is only a month old, but it's not too early to start taking nominations. So far, at least two three journalistic numbskulls are definitely in the running. ... The second is Clare Chapman of the Daily Telegraph, who used bits and pieces from [url=]a story in a German tabloid[/url] to [url=]essentially make up[/url] a story about German unemployment agencies supposedly [url=;sessionid=ELRXQICSBGHCVQFIQMG... unemployed women into becoming prostitutes[/url].

When you quote a story that old, it generally pays to follow up and see if the original story held up. Apparently that one didn't.

ETA: Or I could have done the intelligent thing as Catchfire did and just check Snopes.

You're right, my bad, edited to remove the faulty information

CMOT Dibbler

How is that possible? Everyone on here withthe exception of me and susan davis (an skdadl) are speaking the opposite.

I'm in support too, although I can only really speak in very general terms. That's why we need more sexworkers here.


I've been wondering about something Susan.  You have spoken about your desire to open a coop several times. As I understand it, you want it to be a cafe, maybe an art gallery too but also a brothel of sorts where street workers could bring their tricks and have a place to clean up.

You seem to be inferring that the laws as they stand are preventing you from doing this. Why not open it as a "body rub" shop plus cafe etc.?

Body rub shops, which are brothels, are open across Canada.


Topic locked