Sex-trade policy in Vancouver model for what not to do across Canada: advocates

Advocates for sex workers in B.C. are calling on the federal government to reconsider incoming prostitution laws after finding women in the trade in Vancouver are no safer under the proposed policing style.

VANCOUVER — Advocates for sex workers in B.C. are calling on the federal government to reconsider incoming prostitution laws after finding women in the trade in Vancouver are no safer under the proposed policing style.

A study published today in a global journal found even when Vancouver police limited arrests to their clients and pimps, sex workers in the city endured the same rates of physical and sexual violence.

The research comes within days of the Conservative government’s plans to table legislation setting out a Made-in-Canada approach to dealing with the sale of sexual services.

Authors of the study, published in the British Medical Journal Open, say policy-makers aren’t willing to look at scientific evidence, are not listening to sex workers about safety and will repeat mistakes of the past.

Dr. Kate Shannon, with the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, says the research points to decriminalization of prostitution as the best approach to ensuring sex workers’ safety.

The study found that sex workers in Vancouver remain unable to screen or negotiate with clients, were pushed to work in isolated spaces and were unable to access police protection.

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