Statement by members of: Ex-Prostitutes Against Legislated Sexual ServitudeWednesday, July 28 2010
As women who have been prostituted in Vancouver and in the light of these facts:
- That current discourse on prostitution would have the public believe that it is normal work that simply needs to be better regulated
- That there is currently a proposal to open a legal brothel in Vancouver
- That this proposal is said to speak for current and former prostitutes of Vancouver
- That this proposal promises to make the lives of prostituted women "safer" at best
- That none of us have ever met a prostituted woman who would not leave the "trade" if she had a real chance to do so
- That we are women who have been abused on Canadian soil, by Canadian men while all levels of our Government did nothing to intervene.
- That some members of parliament are now advocating to legalize that abuse.
We want you to know:
We are women who have been harmed by prostitution. We believe that no amount of changing the conditions or the locations in which we were prostituted could ever have significantly reduced that harm. We experience the normalizing of that harm by calling it "work" insulting at best.
It matters very little to us whether we were prostituted on the streets or in the tolerated indoor venues and escort agencies of Vancouver. Our memories are not of the locations but of the men who consistently acted as though we were not quite human. We remember the countless other men and women who daily averted their eyes. We remember the utter lack of services or options that made any sense and the blatant denial of access to any kind of help or justice. We remember the need to "dumb down" our sense of entitlement to a better life so we could bear the one we were in. And we remember too well the numbing despair that came when we finally lost faith that there existed in this world anything decent and good.
We oppose any measure that would put more power in the hands of the men who abused us by telling them that they are legally entitled to do so. This proposal does not speak for us, would not have affected our level of safety in a way that matters, and would not have spared us the harm that is inherent in prostitution.
We are not impressed with lip service proposals to make prostituted women's lives "safer". Safer is not good enough. We consider it a violation of our human rights that we were abandoned to years of situations that fit the definition of sexual assault under current law. But not only is this violence not recorded, not prosecuted, not punished. We are now being told that we chose it.
We believe that, where there is public and political will, lives can be changed for the better. We do not believe the lie that prostitution is inevitable. We believe it can be abolished.
As hosts of the 2010 games, we want our city, our home, to refuse to take part in the global flesh market that is sex tourism and send a message to the world that women will not be sold in Vancouver.
We believe that every sexually exploited woman represents a life wasted. We are greatly saddened for the lives of women lost in prostitution, as well as the loss of the sum of the contributions that countless women still living would have made had they not been abandoned to sexual slavery.
We urge you all to refuse to believe that prostitution is normal or that is an equal exchange "between two consenting adults". We urge you to oppose any attempt to introduce a legal brothel in Vancouver.