Maggie's: the Toronto Sex Workers Action Project respectfully offers our condolences to the friends, family and community of Kera Freeland.
We must also condemn the recent media coverage of her death, which exemplifies sensationalistic, lurid and exploitative journalism.
Ms. Freeland was a 20-year-old woman who we believe was also an escort. So far we have no evidence that her death is linked to her work nor that she was killed by a client or anyone connected to the sex industry. We also have no evidence that Ms. Freeland was open about her work to her family and friends. Regardless, her death is being feasted on by those who are attributing her death to her work and her "lifestyle" and her privacy is being disregarded entirely.
We regard this as sexist victim-blaming and discrimination against sex workers. We're confident that the same associations between work and violence would not have been made if Ms. Freeland were in any other profession. If her death is work related, it is further evidence that lack of rights and criminalization put sex worker's lives at risk.
In our 25 years, we have seen the media and politicians shamelessly appropriate violence against sex workers (whether the violence was work related or not) and use it to advance their own anti-sex work agendas, stereotypes and prejudices. We firmly oppose any proposal for a "red-light district" as it would only further segregate sex workers, who also live, work, study and have families in Toronto. Sex workers themselves must lead any initiatives to further their safety.
We call on city politicians and media to respect the family and friends of Ms. Freeland and end the speculation about her death and its relationship to her work.
If these same people are concerned about the well-being and safety of sex workers, then we encourage them to listen to those who are experts in sex work safety: sex workers themselves.
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.
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