Sex workers' fundraiser Saturday
Jun 01, 2007 02:54 PM
A Toronto-based sex workers' advocacy group kicks off its inaugural
fundraiser on Saturday in support of its constitutional challenge to
Canada's prostitution laws.
According to Wendy Babcock, spokesperson of the Sex Professionals of Canada,
there is an "urban genocide" against thousands of sex-trade workers across
"It's really important to fight violence against women and violence against
sex workers. I think this court challenge, if it wins, can actually save
lives," she said.
The group is challenging three provisions of the Criminal Code related to
Canada's solicitation laws. The group had its first hearing at the Ontario
Superior Court on Thursday. The next hearing is scheduled for Sept. 4. In
Canada, prostitution is in legal limbo. The act of prostitution itself is
legal, but activities related to it aren't.
According to Babcock, the group expects to raise $10,000 overall, although
she adds that the cost of the legal challenge would be at least $50,000. The
funds raised will cover travel and accommodation costs for about 10
Babcock said if the legal team, led by Osgoode Hall law professor Alan
Young, Hadn't taken the case on as pro-bono, it would have cost the
organization about $800,000.
Amit Thakore, one of the members of Young's legal team, said the Robert
Pickton serial murder trial in British Columbia is a "gruesome example" of
how dangerous sex work can be.
According to a December Commons subcommittee report, there were 171 female
sex-trade workers murdered from 1991 to 2004, 45 per cent of which remain
unsolved. A 2006 Statistics Canada report said women in the sex trade are
extremely vulnerable to violence which "often goes unnoticed."
Detective Wendy Leaver of Toronto Police's special victims unit said
violence is a daily threat for sex workers.
"The real myth out there is that being physical or sexual assaulted is part
of your job as a sex worker, but it isn't," Leaver said.
A punk rock fundraiser will be held at the Tranzac Club on Saturday at 7 p.m.
On June 10, "Red Light Night" at Goodhandy's bar will feature burlesque
Monthly fundraisers are scheduled to follow.