who we are
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. We are founded on the belief that in order to improve our circumstances, sex workers must control our own lives and destinies.
We welcome workers of all genders from all areas of the sex trade - street-based sex workers, exotic dancers, escorts, pornography actors, phone sex operators, professional dominants and submissives, erotic massage workers, web cam workers, and others - to join us in our fight to control our own bodies, sexuality and working lives.
Maggie’s mission is to provide education, advocacy, and support to assist sex workers to live and work with safety and dignity.
We are founded on the belief that to improve our lives, sex workers must take the power to control our own destinies. That is why Maggie’s exists first and foremost as an organization for sex workers, that is controlled by sex workers. To quote the slogan: “Nothing about us, without us is for us!"
- Sex work is real work. We are not criminals, deviant or victims. We are working people and we demand to be recognized as such.
- Sex work is socially legitimate, important and valuable work. All sex work is equally valid, whether it be dancing, street work or domination and we are entitled to labour rights; the right to form unions or professional associations; the right to work independently, collectively or for a third party; and the right to occupational health and safety.
- We recognize that sex work is not the same as human trafficking. Sex work is a job selling some form of sexual service. Trafficking is coerced or forced labour.
- Sex worker empowerment stops human trafficking. Current anti-trafficking laws and policies often do more harm than good, leading to further stigma, criminalization, police harassment, violence, extortions and deportations of migrant sex workers while disregarding their actual concerns or needs. Maggie's supports effective, evidence-based solutions to the problem of human trafficking that locates sex workers as a key part of the solution. We support open borders and labour and human rights for undocumented workers.
- Sex work is not intrinsically dangerous, oppressive or exploitative. Most of the problems sex workers experience are a result of legal and social systems that disregard our rights and worth. We work to end these oppressive systems, not to “rescue” sex workers.
- Selling sex is a pragmatic and sensible response to a limited range of options. Where people are doing sex work but would rather not be, it is this lack of options that is the problem – not sex work itself. Women, young people, trans women, people of colour and Indigenous people often face limited economic options. For many, sex work is the best or only option for work and we work to improve the conditions of work.
- The oppression of sex workers does not affect everyone the same way. Some face additional oppressions based on racism, colonialism, sexism, transphobia (trans-misogyny in particular), poverty, homophobia, because they have been to prison, use drugs, are youth or because they have disabilities. Often these sex workers face much higher rates of violence and discrimination. We centre the experiences of these sex workers who are the most directly impacted by violence and discrimination in our analysis, in building broader and stronger coalitions and in developing holistic solutions that address all the issues that affect sex workers' lives.
- We advocate for removal of all laws that criminalize sex work and an end to all forms of violence, discrimination and harassment of sex workers.
- We recognize that sex workers are safer sex professionals and oppose public health policies such as mandatory testing that are founded on stereotypes about us that persecute sex workers rather than genuinely improve public health. We advocate evidence-based approaches to HIV and other STI’s that are led by the experts—sex workers. We recognize that the risk of HIV and other STI's is directly related to poor working conditions created by criminalization and stigmatization.
- We are a part of the international sex worker’s rights movement and we work in coalition with organizations and individuals that support our principles.
Members of Stella (Montreal) at the 2006 AIDS conference,