Blog

Hi the media. Do your job. Love, feminism.

The Canadian Press published a weird little story today by reporter, Stephanie Levitz, claiming that “sex workers” feel it is “‘sick and twisted’ that Canada’s controversial new prostitution bill comes into force on a day dedicated to eradicating violence against women.” The day referenced is December 6th, the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre and the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women. Levitz only interviewed one self-described “sex worker,” Valerie Scott, who is one of the women Alan Young brought on as an applicant in his court challenge (Bedford v. Canada) and who is most likely no longer actually working as a prostitute, having aged out of the biz (johns like the young’uns). This is, of course, part of the problem with the term “sex worker.”...
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Blog

Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution granted leave to intervene in Bedford case

The Women’s Coalition for the Abolition of Prostitution, a pan-Canadian coalition of equality-seeking women’s groups, has, as of today, been granted leave to intervene in the Bedford case, scheduled for hearing on June 12, 2013 at the Supreme Court of Canada. The Court will decide whether or not to keep the current prostitution laws (which criminalize communicating for the purposes of prostitution, running a brothel, and pimping) or strike any or all of them down. The Coalition consists of: Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter, the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC), the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies (CAEFS), the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centres (CASAC), Le Regroupement Québécois des Centres d’Aide et de Lutte contre les Agressions à Caractère Sexuel (CALACS), la Concertation des Luttes contre...
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Podcasts

PODCAST: Pornifying violence against women – A panel discussion

On December 1st 2012, Vancouver Rape Relief & Women’s Shelter held their annual Montreal Massacre Memorial event at the Vancouver Public Library. This event remembers the 14 women who were murdered on December 6, 1989 in Montreal by a man, simply because they were women. The event also seeks to address the fact that violence against women is systemic and happens within a context of a patriarchy culture and to take action against that system. In this episode we hear excerpts from a panel discussion called: Pornifying Violence Against Women. The name of the panel was inspired by photos discovered of an RCMP officer this past year depicting scenes of violence against women, some of which were disturbingly similar to reports of what happened at the Pickton farm. Speakers...
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Rape Relief v. Nixon, transphobia, and the value of women-only space: An interview with Lee Lakeman

Although the Nixon v. Rape Relief case was settled back in 2007, with a dismissal of Kimberly Nixon’s request to appeal the B.C. Court of Appeals decision (that decision being that “Vancouver Rape Relief has the right to prefer to train women who have never been treated as anything but female”), the case continues to be a source of controversy. In an effort to address misinformation, accusations of “transphobia”, and to give Lee Lakeman the opportunity to respond to some points that came up in an interview The F Word’s Nicole Deagan did with Susan Stryker, I spoke with her over the phone last week. I’ve posted the audio and the transcript of that interview below.   Meghan Murphy: Can you give me some background on this case? Lee...
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Bedford v. Canada decision: Ontario Court of Appeal strikes down provision restricting "bawdy house" law

At long last, a decision has been made in the Bedford v. Canada case. This morning, the Ontario Court of Appeal declared the Criminal Code provision restricting “common bawdy houses” unconstitutional. This would mean that johns cannot be criminalized if found purchasing sex in a brothel. The court found that “living on the avails” of prostitution should apply only in “circumstances of exploitation” which, of course, is not something that is particularly easy to prove. The communication laws have been upheld, which means that there would be no separation between buyers and sellers. Prostituted women working the street can still be criminalized just like the men. This particular aspect of the decision is disappointing, as Hilla Kerner, of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter notes: “This is contradictory to...
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Who does decriminalization leave out?

This article was originally written for and published in Sister Outsiders, issue #4: What you won’t hear inside the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.   Decriminalization is touted, by many, as the most progressive way to address prostitution. From our local left-wing politicians to feminist academics to the media, this option is often presented as though it is the only one. Arguments in favour of decriminalizing prostitution tell us that this model will help women, that it will provide agency and options, and that it will empower women and improve lives. These arguments don’t tell the whole story. Decriminalization, is, in fact, a misleading label. Placed in opposition to abolitionists – who advocate for the decriminalization of prostituted women, while criminalizing only the pimps and johns – those who...
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Partying and playing at Piggy’s Palace: Men’s silence about men’s violence

Jacqueline Guillion is a collective member at Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter. This article was originally written for and published in Sister Outsiders, issue #4: What you won’t hear inside the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.   Mainstream media like CBC, The Tyee, Vancouver Sun, and Seattle’s weekly, The Stranger, easily uncovered the fact that former Port Coquitlam Mayor, Scott Young, and hundreds of other people had attended events at Piggy’s Palace, the party venue operating for several years at Pickton’s pig farm. I asked some of those Vancouver rock/punk bands playing in the 1990s what they’d heard about Piggy’s Palace. I was relieved to hear my friends say they had refused to play there because, as one said “even though we’d played some shitty places, we’d heard...
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