PACE: Prostitution legislation will create a multitude of harms

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The Providing Alternatives, Counselling & Education (PACE) Society issued the following statement in response to the Conservative government's new prostitution legislation:

PACE is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1994 by a group of Sex Worker activists and community supporters who recognized that services for Sex Workers were best provided by Sex Workers. We work to protect the rights of adults in the sex trade and to minimize the harms associated with Sex Work.

The Canadian government’s proposal of Bill C36 is shocking. We are stunned and horrified at the lack of insight, the total disregard of evidence based research and their deliberate attempt to abolish prostitution in this country. This Bill discounts the true realities of anyone working in the industry. The government’s moral ideology has clouded their judgment. It is very clear that Sex Workers were not listened to or heard. Under the guise of protecting women and children in this country, this new Bill is irrational and undermines our constitutional rights. It will create a multitude of harms, including exploitation and death. With this decision Sex Workers will absolutely NOT be safer nor will they be willing to seek any legal protection, especially from the police. They will have no choice but to work in concealed, dangerous, underground venues where the most extreme and dangerous circumstances thrive. This blatant disregard for Sex Worker’s health and safety is profoundly disturbing. We believe that the whole world is watching us to set a precedent and today we are ashamed of our current Canadian government. The Conservatives have failed to do the right thing and we are moving backwards when it comes to equal protection and human rights for Sex Workers.

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Vancouverite
While the public debates the impact of these new changes on sex workers and their ability to work and feel safe, there is something important that the media never mentions. Prostitution has other victims beyond sex workers.

These victims include but are not limited to the children, families and adults who live and work in an area where sex workers are found. These victims do not have a voice in the Vancouver's DEOD. Police don’t want to hear from them. They simply are not a priority in what is commonly referred to as a “Containment Area”.

In the DTES, sex workers can be found near homes, schools, community centers and daycare facilities. The unofficial policy regarding VPD enforcement is that there will not be any enforcement.

The current attitude of making these victims feel terrible for inhibiting the sex trade by not wanting sex workers, pimps and johns near where a child can reasonably expect to be present, is not part of a healthy and balanced community.

This new change in laws offers hope to these hidden victims. It offers them the chance to live in a safer community.
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