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 Ass’n Collingwood Neighbourhood House Vancouver Police Department Collingwood Community Policing Centre Youth VPL: Collingwood Branch
This presentation is for staff, management, and volunteers at community service organizations.
At the end of this session we hope you understand: The important role you play as part of the neighbourhood and the need for all community members to feel welcome Your rights and responsibilities to ensure your staff, volunteers and clients feel safe That sex workers are also part of this neighbourhood and have rights as well as responsibilities The needs of sex workers who live and work in this neighbourhood The tools and resources that are available to you to enhance your services and create a welcoming environment for all members of the community
Sex workers are part of our community and have the same right to access services and to be welcomed like any other community member Accessibility means removing any barriers that might prevent people from accessing services Community services include education, social services, the library, neighbourhood houses, and community or recreation centres
Barriers may be physical or social Removing barriers that impact marginalized people requires us to examine our physical environment and our organizational policies and practices
Overcrowded waiting rooms and lobbies are intimidating: role of receptionist is critical Monitor to ensure that clients are not harassed by other clients Consider evening hours
Are your staff friendly? Do they say “hello” to everyone? If a client is confused, do staff go out of their way to help? Privacy: can you offer services specifically FOR sex workers without “outing” them? Are your staff trained to deal with a client in distress? Do you have resources on hand to offer the sex worker?
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... Martin, L., Clair, J., Davis, P., O’Ryan, 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
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 Women’s 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 The Toolkit: Ottawa Area Sex Workers Speak Out
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, carries disease, wants out of the industry or is a bad parent Respond to the sex worker’s 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
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. Consider staff training to become “trauma-informed” An excellent resource: www.traumainformed.ca (click on “Toolkit”)www.traumainformed.ca
Some sex workers have addiction issues Set clear boundaries such as individuals must be “well” when in your premises Setting time limits for use of bathrooms or telephones is a good idea
Culture is influenced by many factors, such as race, gender, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexual orientation and life experience. The extent to which particular factors influence a person will vary. In Vancouver, most sex workers are Caucasian but there are a significant number who are of Aboriginal and Asian descent. Aboriginal women are over-represented in street-based sex work; Asian women are over-represented in massage parlours. Seek to broaden your understanding of cultural concepts & issues.
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
Organizationally Organizational change process Physical environment Observation of clients (who comes and who doesn’t) Individually Examine your personal beliefs Seek more information Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask questions What do you and your organization need to know or understand better in order to provide more accessible services?
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