Saturday, September 26, 2009

There's quite a little storm brewing up out on the west coast as the Salvation Army is being taken to task by the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group. As the 2010 Winter Olympics approach it is expected that, like most other high profile sporting events across the world, there will be an influx of sex trade workers hoping to take advantage of the opportunity. Some (most) will indeed be exploited by various sorts of pimps, and all be be exposed to possible violence from their customers. The nature of the dispute detailed in an article from the Vancouver Sun below is whether ads that have been posted by the Salvation Army are or are not offensive to those people who work in the sex trade. Molly has to admit that she has trouble in 'taking a side' on this issue. The ads indeed are monumentally useless, at least as useless as the 'weekend of prayer' that Sally Ann proposes as part of its campaign. I seriously doubt that any imagery, no matter how graphic, will tell anybody anything about this issue that they don't know already. Neither will it influence anybody in any part of the equation of this matter to act any differently at all. Unless, of course, it more of less actually encourages those who have violent tendencies to act out against sex trade workers. That, unfortunately is a possibility. On the other hand the 'Safety Action group' is actually a social workerish collection more or less set up by the Vancouver City Police, and its motives are equally suspect as those of the Sally Ann. If there is any solution at all it lies in the dual actions of legalizing prostitution and of actually forming unions of sex trade workers. Such unions actually exist in numerous cities across North America and in Europe. They are even present in parts of the 'Third World'. Their success level varies of course, but they are a much better alternative than throwing more money at head shrinking prostitutes. Anyways, here's the article.
Sex trade workers decry Salvation Army posters:
Graphic images wrongly portray them as slaves, they say
By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
Sex trade workers are decrying a Salvation Army campaign against human trafficking that depicts them as slaves and victims of brutal violence.

The “Truth Isn’t Sexy” campaign, developed and launched last year by Mercer Creative, has started to raise the ire of sex workers, who say they are appalled at graphic images of women being throttled or having their heads bashed against a sidewalk.

The images can be seen around Metro Vancouver on billboards, in public washrooms and on transit shelters.

“[Sex workers] are raising some concerns over the fact the campaign perpetuates the myth of sex workers being slaves,” said Tamara O’Doherty, of the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group.

“They’re traumatized. ... For some of these people who work on the streets, they do experience violence,” O’Doherty said. ( And do such ads have either no effect or do they actually encourage such violence-Molly )

The Salvation Army acknowledged the images are graphic but said the campaign is designed to tell the true stories of sexual trafficking victims.

Spokesman Brian Venables said the campaign wasn’t aimed at all sex trade workers, but rather those who were kidnapped or brought into Vancouver against their will.

“When we came together to create this we decided first and foremost it had to be the truth,” he said.

“It’s about people who don’t have that liberty any more; they lost the right to make choices.

“Yes, the images are violent and for the Salvation Army it’s a bold, bold step, but we wanted to make an impact.”

The campaign is aimed at raising awareness about human trafficking and exploitation ahead of the 2010 Olympic Games, when the Salvation Army says “the demand for bodies to service the sex trade will increase. So will the number of victims.”

The Salvation Army website claims Vancouver is a major port of entry for international sex slaves and that nearly every prostitute in the Downtown Eastside is somehow indebted to a pimp or gang, and thus lives in a form of bondage.

Venables said he hopes the graphic images will help put a face on human trafficking.

But the Sex Industry Worker Safety Action Group Vancouver claims the campaign is “misleading, debasing to women and nothing short of sensational.”

O’Doherty said sex workers are worried about exploitation and want to work with the Salvation Army on the issue. The focus, she said, should be on making the community safer for sex workers.

The group launched its opposition to the campaign on the eve of the Salvation Army’s Weekend of Prayer for Victims of Sex Trafficking, today through Sunday.

Venables said the Salvation Army would appreciate any help from sex workers and hopes the debate will bring them all together.

“This is much bigger than the Salvation Army,” he said.

“We need the whole community. These people are on the streets and they can be a huge resource.”

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