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 email@example.com
Emily Symons - POWER (English)
Elene Lam – Butterfly (English and Chinese)
Chanelle Gallant – STRUT (English)
Frédérique Chabot - POWER (French)
Jean McDonald – Maggie’s (English firstname.lastname@example.org)
Join Maggie's and others to demand that Rabble.ca stop publishing the whorephobic, transmisogynist and racist work of Meghan Murphy:
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.
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.
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.
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
Maggie's - Toronto Sex Workers Action Project
Black Lives Matter - Toronto
No More Silence
Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform
Southwest Ontario Sex Workers
Stella, L’Amie de Maimie
Sex Professionals of Canada
Winnipeg Working Group for Sex Workers’ Rights
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
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
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
Executive Director, Maggie's
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 email@example.com for more info
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Maggie's denounces Bill C36 tabled by the Conservative government
For media inquiries, contact Jean McDonald firstname.lastname@example.org (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
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!