SAFE Values & Guiding Principles: Embrace diversity and respect all people Enable participation of all people Foster positive change through learning and capacity building Stand against exploitation and social injustice Create understanding and build community Be open to listening and understanding different perspectives
WISH Drop-in Centre Society HUSTLE PACE Society Living in Community Seniors Residents Local Schools VCH - Evergreen Community Health Centre Collingwood Business Improvement Assn Collingwood Neighbourhood House Vancouver Police Department Collingwood Community Policing Centre Youth
At the end of this session we hope you understand: The important role you play as part of the community Your rights The right for you and other staff to feel safe The right for you and your business to thrive That sex workers are also part of this community & have rights as well as responsibilities The tools and resources that are available to support your business as well as support all members of the community
Litter such as used condoms, condom wrappers, drug paraphernalia Presence of sex workers near business entrance Reputation of business Safety concerns Disruptive behaviour Concerns for health and safety of sex workers
Impetus for Living in Community & SAFE In Collingwood was a recognition that displacement of sex work to other communities is not an answer Removing barriers that impact marginalized people requires us to examine our physical environment and our business policies and practices
Litter Consider placing a trash receptacle near your business Ask the sex worker(s) to use the receptacle Presence of sex workers In advance, talk to other business owners nearby to select a more appropriate location Ask the sex worker(s) to move to the new location
Martin, L., Clair, J., Davis, P., ORyan, D., Hoshi, R. and Curran, H. V. (2006), Enhanced recognition of facial expressions of disgust in opiate users receiving maintenance treatment. Addiction, 101: 1598–1605. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2006.01574.x Research has demonstrated that some members of marginalized communities lose their ability to read any human expression except disgust as that is often the only expression they see...
Impacts of stigma: low self-esteem & diminished self-confidence demoralization poor perceived quality of life social withdrawal fear of being judged negatively low expectations & few demands on services Womens Health Research Network, 2010
Stigma, in the context of sex work, is: Based on misconceptions rather than empirical evidence About discrediting and marking people as other Perceiving others as different can lead to discrimination
Become conscious of your own values, prejudices & attitudes & seek to understand the motivation behind them Avoid assumptions such as assuming a sex worker is a drug addict, has low self-esteem, wants out of the industry or is a bad parent Respond to the sex workers stated needs, not the fact that s/he is a sex worker Above all, treat the sex worker the way you would treat anyone else
Cultural competence is the ability to interact comfortably and communicate effectively with people from a wide range of ethnic, cultural and linguistic traditions. In Vancouver, most sex workers are Caucasian but there are a significant number who are of Aboriginal and Asian descent. Seek to broaden your understanding of cultural concepts & issues.
Your personal safety must come first Sex workers may fear you Building trust takes time and patience 90% of communication is non-verbal Know your boundaries Be mindful of your own agenda Dont make assumptions
Offering the use of your bathroom or telephone, or a safe respite from the street can make a huge difference in the life of a sex worker. Set clear time limits Set appropriate behavioural boundaries Ensure all staff are on board and trained Everyone plays a role in supporting community safety
Encourage your staff to greet everyone with a smile Offer assistance to customers who appear confused Are your staff trained to deal with a customer in distress? If safety is a concern, dont be afraid to call 911
On the next two slides you will see four images of a young woman. While you view these images, think about: What is your first impression of her? What feelings do you have about her? What do you think you might know about her?
Some sex workers have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and can react strongly to: sudden loud sounds, sudden movements, physical proximity etc. Some sex workers have addictions
To be recognized as full citizens To be listened to without being judged To be taken seriously To be integrated into the community To have their human rights recognized and respected To have access to public services without discrimination To have access to work-related social & judicial services The Toolkit: Ottawa Area Sex Workers Speak Out
Business Management Organizational change process Observation of clients (who comes and who doesnt) Individually Examine your personal beliefs Seek more information Dont be afraid to reach out and ask questions What do you and your business need to know or understand better in order to open your doors to sex workers?
Sex work is ILLEGAL In Canada Selling or purchasing sexual services is legal; However, some activities associated with sex work are not.
Sex workers set themselves up for violence No one ever deserves to be assaulted, sexually assaulted, or murdered.
All sex workers were sexually abused as children While it may be true that some sex workers have experienced abuse as children, the same can be said of any occupation.
All sex workers are drug addicts Sex work is as diverse as any other occupation where some workers have addiction issues and some do not.
Sex workers spread HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to the public. Sex workers practice safe sex at much higher rates than the general public. Sex workers are no more responsible to prevent the spread of HIV than any other sexually active person.
All sex workers want to get out of the industry While some sex workers do want to get out, many others do not. Furthermore, for those who do want to get out, there is a lack of services to assist them in doing so.
All sex workers are young women While the majority of sex workers are believed to be female, there are large numbers of male and transgender sex workers as well. Some sex workers continue working right up to retirement age.
All sex workers are forced into the sex industry Individuals enter sex work for a variety of reasons, most often economic. Those who are forced or exploited are very isolated and there is limited knowledge about who they are and how best to support them.
Raids of brothels and massage parlours rescues sex workers and victims of trafficking Empowering sex workers to work with law enforcement to identify and assist those people who have been coerced is an effective way to support sex workers.
Sex work is an easy way to make a lot of money Remuneration for sex work varies with the type and location of work. Income can fluctuate widely from day to day.
All clients of sex workers are men who want to hurt women. Not all sex workers are women. Clients come in all ages and from all walks of life. Much of sex work does not involve violence.
Sex work is degrading Let people name their own experience. We are all the experts in our own lives. This is a value judgment that leads to discrimination and dehumanization.
There are sex work support organizations throughout Canada who are happy to provide information to members of the public. An excellent start: www.powerottawa.ca and download their toolkit.www.powerottawa.ca
Kerry Porth, Sex Trade Educator SAFE Public Education Committee Brette Little, Model
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