DOWNTOWN EAST AND EASTEND ORGANIZATIONS JOIN TOGETHER TO RELEASE A STATEMENT ON THE SEXUAL ASSAULT AND CONFINEMENT OF A SEX WORKER
On Tuesday April 7th, 2015, the media released news that a man in the South Riverdale area was accused of sexually assaulting and confining a woman against her will for five days. The Women’s Harm Reduction Program at South Riverdale Community Health Centre, Maggie’s Toronto Sex Worker Action Project, Downtown East Women Reclaim the Streets and Street Health share a mutual concern about this act of sexual violence within our community. Firstly we want to express our sympathy to the woman who suffered from this preventable act of gender based sexual violence. Sexual violence against sex workers happens way too often within the downtown east and South Riverdale community. The criminalization of sex work increases the risks of violence by forcing sex workers to work in unsafe environments without being able to put in place safety strategies.
Currently under the new legislation Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) sex workers are working in a system that has proven to continue to put sex workers lives at risk by making it a criminal act to put in place safety precautions. This incident may have been preventable if sex workers were given the opportunity to work in safer environments under a decriminalized system. Decriminalization of trading sex allows sex workers to work with both safety and dignity.
Most recently Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur announced that the new prostitution laws PCEPA are found to be constitutional despite the Canada v. Bedford ruling that struck down the three previous prostitution related provisions. Concerns have been raised by Premier Kathleen Wynn, 15 Toronto City Councilors and 60 organizations that signed on to a statement created by sex workers and sex worker organizations asking for non-enforcement and decriminalization of sex work at all levels. Currently legislation has more than proven that sex workers lives are NOT a priority. Together we need to continue to advocate for systemic change and continue to build stronger communities to ensure the lives of sex workers become a priority. Violence against sex workers needs to end!
If you are sex worker and would like further support you can contact the following sex worker positive organizations:
South Riverdale Community Health Center-Women’s Harm Reduction Program a member driven program that provides services and programs for women who use drugs and or are involved in sex work. If you have been impacted by criminalization, stigma and discrimination and identify as a sex worker or a woman who uses drugs our program is here to offer support. You can contact Women’s Harm Reduction Health Promoter at
(416) 461-1925 ext. 388
Maggie’s Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is an organization that is run by and for local sex workers. Maggie’s mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to work with safety and dignity.
firstname.lastname@example.org (416) 964-0150
Join us this coming summer once again for Downtown East Women Reclaim the Streets – an annual march led by women in the Dundas-Sherbourne neighborhood, highlighting issues facing street involved women. Let us fight to change these unfair laws, and for the kind of society where violence like this does not continue to happen.
For further information about this statement you can contact:
Arlene Jane Pitts
Women’s Harm Reduction Program Health Promoter, South Riverdale CHC
Tel: (416) 461-1925 ext. 388
Executive Director, Maggie's
416 910 2073
OVER 60 AGENCIES AND ORGANIZATIONS CALL FOR NON-ENFORCEMENT OF C-36 AND FULL DECRIMINALIZATION OF SEX WORK
December 6th: National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women
December 6th is the National Day of Remembrance and Action for Violence Against Women, which commemorates the anniversary of the gender-based murders of 14 young women in Montreal, Quebec (1989) at l'École Polytechnique de Montréal. On this day we remember these 14 women who died due to gender-based violence, while addressing the ongoing violence that women face across Canada.
On December 6th 2014, the Canadian federal government will enact Bill C-36, the erroneously-named Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, which will re-criminalize sex work while recreating the harms and violence experienced by sex workers under the previous laws criminalizing prostitution.
Bill C-36 replaces the three key provisions of the Criminal Code that were struck down by the Supreme Court on December 20, 2013 in the landmark case, Bedford v. Canada.
Bill C-36 recreates the harms of the provisions struck down in the Bedford case, allowing the epidemic of violence against sex workers to continue. Bill C-36 views all sex workers as victims of violence, rather than understanding that it is criminalization, isolation, and the denial of rights and freedoms that breeds violence and exploitation against sex workers.
As sex workers around the globe have pointed out for decades: We need the full decriminalization of sex work to ensure the safety, dignity and security of all sex workers and recognize that enforcement disproportionately targets Black, Indigenous, Migrant, Transwomen and street-based sex workers.
We call for:
The repeal of Bill C-36 and the full decriminalization of sex work in Canada
Legal and labour rights for sex workers
Provincial and Municipal non-enforcement of Bill C-36
The destigmatization of sex work
The recognition of the dignity and value of sex workers
On this day we remember those who have died as a result of gender-based violence, over 1200 documented missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and those that still walk with us and continue to experience violence; physically, emotionally, spiritually and systematically.
On this day we join together to fight for the elimination all forms of violence against women, including Bill C-36, which will criminalize sex work and isolate sex workers, pushing them into harm’s way.
COUNTERfit’s Women’s Harm Reduction Program (Toronto)
Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project
Ontario Association of Interim and Transitional Housing (OAITH)
POWER - Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work, Educate & Resist
Sistering - A Women’s Place (Toronto)
Sex Professionals of Canada
Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
Southwestern Ontario Sex Workers (SWOSWers)
Positive Women’s Network (Vancouver)
Stella, l'amie de Maimie (Montreal)
Sunshine House (Winnipeg)
PACE Society (Vancouver)
Safe Harbour Outreach Project (St. John's)
FIRST: Decriminalize Sex Work Now
Come As You Are - Workers' Cooperative (Toronto)
AIDS Committee of Durham Region
Bad Date Coalition (Toronto)
Central Toronto Community Health Centre (Toronto)
Ontario Aboriginal HIV/AIDS Strategy (OAHAS)
Adjoint AQPSUD (Association québécoise pour la promotion de la santé des personnes utilisatrices de drogues)
AIDS Committee of Toronto
Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP)
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
PEERS Victoria Resource Society
Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network)
The Naked Truth
Positive Living Society of BC
HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic of Ontario (HALCO)
Sudbury Coalition Against Poverty
Black Lives Matter
Network For the Elimination of Police Violence
Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
Toronto Trans Alliance
CATIE - Canada’s source for HIV and Hepatitis C Information
Stepping Stone (Halifax)
Trans Feminist Action Caucus CUPE 3903
No More Silence
AIDS ACTION NOW
Assaulted Women and Children Counsellor/Advocate Program, George Brown College
Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development
Big Susie’s - Sex Worker Advocacy Organization of Hamilton
Jane Doe, sexual assault activist and Co-ordinater of the national Feminist Coalition in Support of Full Decriminalization and the Human and Labour Rights of Sex Workers
Knowledge and Power of Women (KAPOW)
Native Women’s Resource Centre
Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union
Canadian AIDS Society
Pivot Legal Society (Vancouver)
No One Is Illegal - Toronto
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
Global Network of People Living with HIV (North America)
AIDS Committee of Ottawa
Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic
Guelph Resource Centre for Gender Empowerment and Diversity
TG InnerSelves (Sudbury)
Sudbury Action Centre for Youth
Downtown East Women’s Committee of Toronto
International Workers of the World (IWW), Women’s Committee
Canadian Harm Reduction Network
Chinese Canadian National Congress, Toronto Chapter
Sex workers decry government consultation on prostitution
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 2, 2014 — Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project, along with sex workers and other experts, question the legitimacy of the federal government online consultation around prostitution in Canada.
“The online consultation allowed for people to complete the form multiple times. The numbers could easily be skewed to support the Conservative government’s agenda to introduce legislation that would criminalize sex work.” – Jean McDonald, Executive Director, Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project.
Sex workers were not consulted in meaningful ways. Vanessa D’Allesio, current sex worker and member of Maggie’s Board of Directors adds, “I wouldn’t be asked to comment on employment standards in the fishing industry, so it begs the question as to why non-sex workers are considered the best source of information to inform legislation on the sex industry.” “Asking the average citizen to comment on a highly stigmatized and misunderstood industry does not reflect the opinions or needs of the people directly affected by these laws – sex workers,” adds Jeff Kingsley, current sex worker in Toronto.
The consultation questions were biased. “They lead people to want to criminalize clients or third parties, without an understanding of the impact of these types of laws on sex workers,” says Hope Bloomington, current sex worker in Toronto. Emily van der Meulen, Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminology at Ryerson University adds, "Laws should not be built on public opinion or moral arguments. Laws should be based on evidence, which is what the court considered when making its judgement in favour of decriminalization." The Supreme Court of Canada was clear that the laws criminalizing consensual sex work activities increased harm and vulnerability. New laws will simply re-create this situation and will surely be deemed unconstitutional by future courts.
Decriminalization is the only system that will protect sex workers, by ensuring access to labour, legal and human rights.
Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project is an organization run for and by sex workers. Our mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. We are founded on the belief that in order to improve our circumstances, sex workers must control our own lives and destinies.
Contact: Jean McDonald, Executive Director,
Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project
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sex workers: join us!
Join us every Wednesday for our sex workers only Lounge from 2-5 PM and check our news page for upcoming events! Sex workers, Maggie’s is here for you. We are not secretly trying to convince you to leave sex work or “rehabilitate” you. Our services and philosophies are rooted in meeting your needs and desires with respect. Learn more here.
The No List: Time Wasters and Bad Dates
Maggie's: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project now has a searchable data base for time wasters and bad dates!!
The No List allows sex workers to share information and search clients before booking. It is secure and accessible by sex workers only!
To access the list or submit bad date or time waster info please email email@example.com
learn more about us
Maggie's: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Project is an organization run for and by local sex workers. Our mission is to assist sex workers in our efforts to live and work with safety and dignity. Learn more here.