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SEX WORKER RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN THE RAIDS ON MASSAGE PARLOURS THAT LED TO THE DEPORTATION OF ELEVEN WOMEN

 

May 11, 2015 – The threat of deportation in human trafficking investigations increases women’s vulnerability to violence and limits their ability to come forward as victims, say sex workers’ rights groups.

On Friday, May 8th 2015, the Ottawa Police Service announced that 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours and body rub facilities. No criminal charges were laid but police said the border services investigation continues, which could spark more deportations.

“The threat of deportation makes it extremely difficult for migrant sex workers to come forward as victims or witnesses of a crime,” says Jean McDonald of Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. “People swept up in human trafficking investigations should be offered permanent residency and immediate immunity from deportation.” 

Elene Lam of Butterfly, an Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network, stated, “Migrant sex workers are often the target of robbery and assault. They are afraid to report to police or seek help because they do not want to be deported. Investigations under the guise of trafficking and police raids make the situation even worse. It makes people hide further underground, makes them more vulnerable to violence and endangers their safety.” 

These raids come shortly after the enacting of the new sex work laws, the Protection of Community and Exploited Persons Act.

“To push through Canada’s new prostitution laws, the Government conflated consensual sex work and human trafficking. We are working together to demand meaningful protection for sex workers and migrants in the form of legal rights and labour protections,” says Emily Symons of POWER.

The raids that transpired in Ottawa clearly demonstrate how the new laws increase the isolation and exclusion of all sex workers, and have additional negative impact on racialized and migrant sex workers, affecting their health, equity, dignity, safety and human rights, due to the threat of detention and deportation.

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For contact information for spokespeople, please email maggiescoord@gmail.com

Emily Symons - POWER (English)

Elene Lam – Butterfly (English and Chinese) 

Chanelle Gallant – STRUT (English)

Frédérique Chabot - POWER (French)

Jean McDonald – Maggie’s (English maggiescoord@gmail.com)

 

 

Join Maggie's and others to demand that Rabble.ca stop publishing the whorephobic, transmisogynist and racist work of Meghan Murphy:

https://www.change.org/p/rabble-ca-we-demand-that-rabble-ca-end-your-association-with-meghan-murphy-as-editor-and-columnist?recruiter=164632864&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

May 1, 2015

Open Letter to the Editors of Rabble.ca,

We are feminists, grassroots community groups and organizations that support intersectional feminism. We are concerned about your ongoing relationship with Meghan Murphy as one of your editors. Murphy has been publishing material that dehumanizes and disrespects women with different experiences and perspectives than hers for many years, in particular Black women, women in the sex industry and trans women. By allowing Murphy to continue as an editor at Rabble.ca you are giving a platform to her hate and we are writing to demand that you end your association with her as editor and columnist.

Recently, Murphy published a piece about Laverne Cox's decision to pose nude for a US women's magazine. In her piece, Murphy attacks for Cox for attempting to achieve a “‘perfect’ body as defined by a patriarchal/porn culture, through plastic surgery, and then presenting it as a sexualized object for public consumption” and later mocks her and other trans women for  “spending thousands and thousands of dollars sculpting their bodies in order to look like some cartoonish version of 'woman,’ as defined by the porn industry and pop culture.”   

Laverne Cox is not a cartoonish version of a woman. She is a woman, a Black trans woman who is changing history by defining her own beauty and loveability in the public sphere.

For years, Murphy's racism and attacks on women who trade/sell sex or are trans have been tolerated or supported and published by Rabble, including this article where she pits Black women against each other, calling another Black trans woman (Janet Mock) "selfish" for using glamour to feel powerful--and again maligning a Black trans woman’s decisions about her body.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2014/05/bell-hooks-will-save-us-all-long-slow-death-popular-feminism

Her anti-black racism extends to men as well as in this tweet where she calls for the death of Chris Brown  https://twitter.com/aurabogado/status/376380825542987776/photo/1

She is famously antagonistic toward sex workers and has a long track record of using degrading, dehumanizing language such as “prostituted women”, being ageist and factually incorrect by suggesting older women cannot be active sex workers, mocking and misrepresenting sex work activists and employing racist terminology such as “illegal immigrants”. We were shocked when on the pages of rabble.ca, she blamed Cindy Gladue’s murder on pornography, co-opting the deaths of Indigenous women in the sex trade to denounce our calls for rights and respect.

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2015/03/owen-jones-its-political-flaws-matter-not-women%E2%80%99s-lives 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/a-prostitution-solution-outlaw-the-customers-not-the-hookers/article12306020/

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2014/04/feminism-new-misogyny-on-belle-knox-feminism-and-new-backlas

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2014/12/feminism-existed-2014-well-other-years

http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/feminist-current/2014/12/hi-media-do-your-job-love-feminism

 

This is not a question of free speech, it is a question of offering active support to bigots. For example, Rabble would not employ right wing christian fundamentalists for their opinions as their stance clearly undermines the dignity and humanity of communities they are not a part of. The same is the case for Murphy. She is a white, cis, non sex working person who writes with contempt about communities that she is not a member of. It is unjust of Rabble to financially support her bigotry. Rabble is stronger and more relevant when it publishes the voices of those who are directly impacted by the issues they cover. Doing otherwise has made Rabble unsafe for many members of marginalized populations who write from a place of personal experience.

Other feminists and womanists have taken notice.

http://www.thefrisky.com/2015-04-27/the-soapbox-on-laverne-coxs-nude-photo-spread-meghan-murphys-transphobia/?utm_source=share-tw&utm_medium=button

http://www.theroot.com/blogs/the_grapevine/2013/12/twitter_feminism_meghan_murphy_sparks_outrage_on_black_twitter.html

http://www.gradientlair.com/post/70596255418/stop-dismissing-women-of-colour-feminsts

 

We support working with people to transform their politics toward more equity and accountability. Despite endless attempts, Murphy has remained unwilling to evaluate her racism, transmisogyny and whorephobia. We've chosen to use an open letter as a medium, only after all other avenues toward accountability have been explored and have failed.

We demand a discerning voice of equality and equity that respects and values all women including trans women, women of colour and women in the sex industry. Displays of racism, whorephobia and transmisogyny have no place in a progressive publication like Rabble. It is time for Rabble to take responsibility and cease offering a platform for hate in the form of zealous bigotry from Meghan Murphy and others like her.

-on behalf of

STRUT

Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers Action Project

Black Lives Matter - Toronto

No More Silence

TransPride Toronto

Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform

Southwest Ontario Sex Workers

Stella, L’Amie de Maimie

PACE Society

Sex Professionals of Canada

Winnipeg Working Group for Sex Workers’ Rights

PIECE Edmonton

Butterfly (Migrant and Asian Sex Workers)

Toronto Migrant Sex Worker Project

ASTT(e)Q : Action Santé Travesti(e)s et Transsexuel(le)s du Québec

Shameless Magazine

No One Is Illegal - Toronto

 

EAST END 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. 

Full Statement Here 

 

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For further information about this statement you can contact: 

 

Arlene Jane Pitts 

Women’s Harm Reduction Program Health Promoter 

Tel: (416) 461-1925 ext. 388 

apitts@srchc.com

 

Jean McDonald

Executive Director, Maggie's

maggiescoord@gmail.com

 

 

Maggie's is back with our regularly scheduled programming:

  • Maggie's Lounge for sex workers ONLY - Wednesdays 2-5pm
  • Drop-in Office Hours - Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-2pm
  • Monthly sex worker gathering - email maggiescoord@gmail.com for more info

 

Support Maggie's!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to our Indiegogo Campaign! It was a great success and we raised more than our target goal of $10,000.

PLEASE CONTINUE TO SUPPORT OUR WORK! You can donate by pressing the red DONATE HERE button at the top right hand corner of this page.

 

 

 

 

Maggie's denounces Bill C36 tabled by the Conservative government

For media inquiries, contact Jean McDonald maggiescoord@gmail.com (416) 964-0150

For sex workers encountering police at their incall locations

Click here for more info about what to do if you are visiting by police and a guide to your rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms 

Join us! 

Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 12-2pm

Come join us every Wednesday 2-5pm at the Maggie's Lounge for community, conversation, coffee, snacks, harm reduction and safer sex materials and more! Come get the facts--stay tuned for an upcoming conversation about the legal changes and where we stand now!

To stay informed about breaking updates, please visit us here on our facebook page: www.facebook.com/Maggiestoronto

 

Maggie'ounge and RealWork group will be starting back up next Wednesday August 7. See you then!

recent news 

SEX WORKER RIGHTS GROUPS CONDEMN THE RAIDS ON MASSAGE PARLOURS THAT LED TO THE DEPORTATION OF ELEVEN WOMEN 

May 11, 2015 – The threat of deportation in human trafficking investigations increases women’s vulnerability to violence and limits their ability to come forward as victims, say sex workers’ rights groups.

On Friday, May 8th 2015, the Ottawa Police Service announced that 11 women will be deported after a human trafficking investigation into commercial massage parlours and body rub facilities. No criminal charges were laid but police said the border services investigation continues, which could spark more deportations.

“The threat of deportation makes it extremely difficult for migrant sex workers to come forward as victims or witnesses of a crime,” says Jean McDonald of Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers Action Project. “People swept up in human trafficking investigations should be offered permanent residency and immediate immunity from deportation.”

Elene Lam of Butterfly, an Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network, stated, “Migrant sex workers are often the target of robbery and assault. They are afraid to report to police or seek help because they do not want to be deported. Investigations under the guise of trafficking and police raids make the situation even worse. It makes people hide further underground, makes them more vulnerable to violence and endangers their safety.” 

These raids come shortly after the enacting of the new sex work laws, the Protection of Community and Exploited Persons Act.

“To push through Canada’s new prostitution laws, the Government conflated consensual sex work and human trafficking. We are working together to demand meaningful protection for sex workers and migrants in the form of legal rights and labour protections,” says Emily Symons of POWER.

The raids that transpired in Ottawa clearly demonstrate how the new laws increase the isolation and exclusion of all sex workers, and have additional negative impact on racialized and migrant sex workers, affecting their health, equity, dignity, safety and human rights, due to the threat of detention and deportation.

- 30 -

 

For contact information for spokespeople, please email maggiescoord@gmail.com

Emily Symons - POWER (English)

Elene Lam – Butterfly (English and Chinese)

Chanelle Gallant – STRUT (English)

Frédérique Chabot - POWER (French)

Jean McDonald – Maggie’s (English maggiescoord@gmail.com)

 

 

 ATTENTION! 

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. 

maggiescoord@gmail.com  (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. 

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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 

apitts@srchc.ca

Jean McDonald

Executive Director, Maggie's

maggiescoord@gmail.com

 
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.

In solidarity, 
COUNTERfit’s Women’s Harm Reduction Program (Toronto)
Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project 
Ontario Association of Interim and Transitional Housing (OAITH)
TransPRIDE Toronto
Grind Toronto
STRUT (Toronto)
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)
PASAN (Toronto)
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.

 

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Contact: Jean McDonald, Executive Director,

Maggie’s – Toronto Sex Workers’ Action Project

maggiestoronto.ca

maggiescoord@gmail.com

(416) 964-0150

 

Support Maggie's! We have launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise money to supplement our work advocating for sex workers and the decriminalization of sex work in Canada. Check out the awesome incentives and please CONTRIBUTE!

CLICK HERE! Maggie's Indiegogo Campaign

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 maggiesnolist@gmail.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.