MONTREAL SEX WORKER RIGHTS GROUP DENOUNCES BC SUPREME COURT RULING THAT DENIES SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS

This is a press release sent out from out friends in Canada.

MONTREAL SEX WORKER RIGHTS GROUP DENOUNCES BC SUPREME COURT RULING THAT DENIES SEX WORKERS’ HUMAN RIGHTS

Montreal, December 15, 2008

Today, the BC Supreme Court refused to hear a case brought forward by a group of sex workers from the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver (“SWUAV”) who are attempting to challenge the prostitution laws using the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Lainie Basman, of Montreal’s Coalition for the Rights of Sex Workers says, “This decision is incredibly disappointing. The B.C. Supreme Court had the rare opportunity to hear a critical claim by sex workers that Canada’s Criminal Code endangers their safety and violates their fundamental right to equality. Outrageously, the Court has chosen to close its doors to one of this country’s most marginalized and oppressed groups.”

Joe Arvay, a lawyer working on the case alongside Katrina Pacey, of Pivot Legal Society, says, The government’s argument that the Court should recognize as plaintiffs only those sex workers who are presently active in sex work or who are presently facing an actual prosecution is neither sound law or good policy.”

This court decision affects sex workers all across the country. Recent years have brought attention to the human rights atrocities perpetrated against sex workers in Canada and to the large number of women murdered and missing in recent years in Vancouver and Edmonton.  Anna-Louise Crago, Coalition member, states, “In Montreal, the issue is as pressing as it is in those cities. In our city there are presently at least two ongoing cases involving men accused of the serial rape of sex workers.   Sex workers will not be free of violence or the threat of violence until we are free of the laws that criminalize our work and our lives.  The need to recognize sex workers’ rights to work in safe and decent working conditions is urgent.”

The Coalition wishes to express not only grave concern, but also its strong support for the right to address these human rights violations in a court of law.

For more information contact:

info@montrealcoalition.com

Sex Workers Urge Obama Administration to Help Stop Violence

Media Advisory

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Contact: Stacey Swimme
Email: press@swopusa.org
Phone: 877-776-2004 ext. 2

Kelli Dorsey
(202) 829-2103
kelli@differentavenues.org
http://www.swopusa.org/SW_NationalMarch08/

Sex Workers Urge Obama Administration to Help Stop Violence

Sex workers will submit a letter and demands to President-elect Obama and select cabinet-appointees Wednesday December 17, 2008 to mark the 6th Annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. This year mourners will gather in Franklin Square Park for a rally and march to the Department of Justice where a vigil will be held to honor sex workers who’ve been murdered or assaulted. Sex workers are demanding that this administration enact policy changes that would prevent violence and improve public health.

“Sex workers are the experts at identifying harm in the sex industry and developing solutions,” said Tara Sawyer, Board Chair of the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP-USA), a national peer-led network of sex workers who initiated this day in 2003 when Gary Leon Ridgway aka the Green River Killer was convicted for murdering 48 prostitutes over a 21-year period near Seattle, WA. Sawyer went on to say, “For most sex workers, their criminal status keeps them from working in safer conditions and seeking out assistance from law enforcement if assaulted or robbed.”

“Sex workers experience a disproportionate level of preventable violence in our country,” said Kelli Dorsey, Director of Different Avenues, a DC –based organization co-sponsoring this event, “People of color and transgender people are overwhelmingly targeted. This discrimination is too often ignored by society.”

Cyndee Clay of HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive), also DC-based, said her organization is participating in this event “Not only to commemorate and honor those who have been victims of shame and stigma, but also to demand that the voices of those who experience violence within the sex industry are visible.”

Interviews are available with sex workers attending the vigil in DC as well as nationwide by using the contact info above. Email to request media kit. See website for listing of vigils around the world. Media and the public are welcome at the DC rally and vigil:

December 17, 2008 12pm-3pm
Franklin Square (14 ST NW & Eye ST NW) near McPherson Square Station and procession to Department of Justice at 950 Pennsylvania Avenue

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