Tag Archives: English

Authors: Young Women’s Empowerment Project, 2012

Citation (MLA): Young Women’s Empowerment Project. Denied Help! How Youth in the Sex Trade & Street Economy are Turned Away From Systems Meant to Help Us & What We Are Doing to Fight Back. Bad Encounter Line 2012: A Participatory Action Research Project. Chicago, 2012.


We wanted to show how girls bounce back and heal from individual and institutional violence. We wanted this information so that we can collectively build a social justice campaign to respond to broad systemic harm. From this, YWEP’s first youth developed, led, and analyzed research project was born.

Our research questions were:

1. What individual and institutional violence do girls in the sex trade experience?

2. How do we heal/bounce back from this violence?

3. How do we resist/fight back against this violence?

4. How can we unite and collectively fight back?

We answered these questions using 4 tools: we did focus groups with our membership and outreach workers, we created a fill in the blank zine so that girls could document the ways they heal and fight back, we used ethnographic observation by paying attention and writing down the experiences of our outreach contacts, and we asked new questions in our workshops about how girls take care of themselves and avoid violence.

Read the full report here:

Authors: Young Women’s Empowerment Project, 2009

Citation (MLA): Young Women’s Empowerment Project. Girls Do What They Have to Do to Survive: Illuminating Methods Used by Girls in the Sex Trade and Street Economy to Fight Back and Heal. Chicago, 2009.

Youth activist summary:

This research is for US. It’s for YOU and for all girls, including transgender girls, and young women, including trans women involved in the sex trade and street economy.

This research study was created by girls, collected by girls, and analyzed by girls.

We did this because this is OUR LIVES. Who knows us better than us?

We did this to prove that we care–that we are capable of resisting violence in a multitude of ways.

We take care of ourselves and heal in whatever way feels best for us—whether society approves of it or not.

This research study honors all of the ways we fight back (resistance) and our healing (resilience) methods.

We proved that we do face violence but we are not purely victims. We are survivors. We can take care of ourselves and we know what we need.

This research is a response to all of those researchers, doctors, government officials, social workers, therapists, journalists, foster care workers and every other adult who said we were too messed up or that we needed to be saved from ourselves.

The next time someone tells you that you don’t know what’s best for you, look towards our tool kit for inspiration. We wrote the tool kit with the intent of giving you ideas about how girls have survived this life—not to tell you what to do.

We did this. We did the research. And now we are sharing it with you so that you know that girls do what they have to do to survive.

Summary (from “Our Research”):

YWEP began our first experience with Participatory Evaluation Research in 2006. With a grant through the Cricket Island Foundation’s Capacity Building Initiative, we met Catlin Fullwood, an activist, researcher, and trainer. Catlin taught us a research method in which all members of the community could be involved in the development, data collection, and analysis of the research.

Our 2006 research project had three learning questions. We wanted to find out (1) what effect harm reduction was having on our outreach contacts. We also wanted to find out (2) who our allies were and weren’t as a harm reduction based, youth-led social justice project. Lastly, (3) we wanted to learn more about how girls respond to other girls in positions of leadership. For this research project, we did a literature review, several focus groups with YWEP leadership and membership, and we collected over 300 surveys from our outreach contacts across Chicago and Illinois.

Read the full report here:

Author: Sarah Hunt, Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, 2010

Citation (MLA): Hunt, S. “Colonial Roots, Contemporary Risk Factors: A Cautionary Exploration of the Domestic Trafficking of Aboriginal Girls and Women in British Columbia, Canada.” Alliance News. July, 2010. 15 August 2013. Web.

Introductory Paragraph:

In recent years, scholars have taken up the issue of domestic trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada, asserting that this is an issue of pressing concern in our communities. Indeed, one study reported that Aboriginal women and children make up the majority of people trafficked within Canada. 6 With a lack of available data to clarify the extent and nature of human trafficking in Aboriginal communities, the authors have largely conflated domestic trafficking with youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence, and disappearance or abduction, resulting in a muddling of trafficking with other forms of violence and abuse. In order to better inform prevention and education efforts in Aboriginal communities, a more nuanced exploration of the trafficking of Aboriginal girls and women in Canada is needed. Adult sex work, often conflated with sexual exploitation in literature on domestic trafficking of Indigenous women, must also be approached within a rights-based framework rather than throwing it into the mix of exploitation. In this paper, I will draw on my 10years of experience as a community-based researcher, program coordinator and educator on issues of youth sexual exploitation, intergenerational violence and related issues stemming from the colonisation of Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC), Canada. I will also draw on available research to argue that while Indigenous girls and women in Canada are at heightened risk of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, little evidence is available to support the claim that trafficking is a growing issue in our communities. Rather, as others have argued, human trafficking is one of many forms of sexualised violence perpetrated against Aboriginal women, and efforts to address trafficking must simultaneously distinguish between trafficking, youth sexual exploitation, adult sex work, and a range of violent offences while seeing the colonial roots which link various forms of abuse and marginalisation.

Read the full article here:

Author: John Lowman, 2011

Citation (APA): Lowman, J. (2011). Deadly Inertia: A History of Constitutional Challenges to Canada’s Criminal Code Sections on Prostitution. Beijing Law Review, 2(2), 33-54.


This paper examines rhetoric surrounding prostitution law reform in Canada from 1970 to the present. During the 1950s and 1960s, there was very little media or political attention paid to prostitution. It was not until the mid 1970s that perceived problems with prostitution law began to surface, driven by concerns that the criminal code statute prohibiting street prostitution was not enforceable. In 1983 the Liberal government appointed the Special Committee on Pornography and Prostitution to consider options for law and policy reform. However, the Conservative government that received the report in 1985 rejected the sweeping law changes the Special Committee recommended, opting instead to rewrite the street prostitution offence. Since then the murder of somewhere between 200 and 300 street prostitutes has prompted renewed calls for law reform. The debate on law reform culminated in 2006 with a parliamentary review that saw all four federal political parties agreeing that Canada’s prostitution laws are “unacceptable,” but unable to agree about how to change them. The majority report held that consenting adult prostitution should be legal, while the minority report held that it should be prohibited. In 2007 the Standing Committee on the Status of Women recommended that Canada adopt the Nordic model of demand-side prohibition. As the deadlock continues, women in the street sex trade continue to be murdered. Faced with this deadly inertia, two groups of sex workers have challenged several Criminal Code sections relating to prostitution, arguing that they violate several of their Constitutional rights, including their right to “life, liberty and security of the person”. The paper concludes with an update on the progress of the Charter challenges now before the courts.

Read the full paper here:

Author: Sherene Razack, 2001

Citation (APA):

Razack, S.H. (2001). Gendered Racial Violence and Spatialized Justice: The Murder of Pamela GeorgeCanadian Journal of Law and Society, 15(2), 91-130.


The murder of a Saulteaux (Ojibway) nation woman in Regina, Canada and the subsequent conviction of two white men for manslaughter is discussed in this article in the context of what the author calls “spatialized justice”. The author argues that identity as it relates to space acted as a factor in the trial in so far as the victim was characterized as belonging to a “zone of violence” and the accused as foreign to this space and so less culpable. The author uses a method of “unmapping” to argue that by denaturalizing the spaces and individuals in the trial, one may expose the true nature of violence and hierarchies present in the case. The influence of colonization and one’s accountability for one’s position in history is also examined.


Razack’s analysis of sex work as violence differs from my analysis of sex work as work. However, the intersection of colonization and sex work in Canada cannot be understated, and Razack’s analysis of how racism fuels violence against Indigenous sex workers is important.

Read the full article here:

More Indigenous perspectives on sex work and the sex industry:

Author: Pivot Legal Society, 2006

Citation (APA):

Pivot Legal Society (2006). Beyond Decriminalization: Sex Work, Human Rights and a New Framework for Law Reform. Vancouver.

Executive Summary:

Sex workers are entitled to the same human rights standards that are afforded to other members of Canadian society. However, as a result of the current criminal laws relating to adult prostitution, sex workers are forced to live and work in conditions where they experience systemic discrimination, exploitation and violence, and where their constitutional rights are infringed. Pivot’s 004 report, Voices for Dignity: A Call to End the Harms Caused by Canada’s Sex Trade Laws, argued that sex workers’ right to expression, life, liberty, security of the person, and equality, as enshrined in
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, are routinely violated.

Significant improvements to the working and living conditions of sex workers are not possible without the repeal of s.s 0, , (), (3) and 3 of the Criminal Code of Canada. In anticipation that Canada will one day recognize and carry out this important legislative reform, this report moves beyond the issue of criminal law reform to examine areas of law that become relevant and applicable in a decriminalized context. The analyses and findings set out in Beyond Decriminalization are intended to encourage Canadians to consider how reform of other areas of law and policy can be used to end the violence, discrimination and other human rights violations faced by sex workers.

One example of an area of legislation that will be highly relevant if sex work is decriminalized is employment and labour law. This report examines how employment and labour standards can be used to provide rights and protections for workers in the sex industry. In addition to this key topic, this report considers other relevant areas of law, including: occupational health and safety, municipal, tax, immigration, human rights, family, company, and social welfare. The findings and analyses presented are grounded in the expert opinions and experiences of sex workers from various areas of the sex industry. Through individual and group discussions with workers and business owners from escort agencies, massage parlours, sole proprietorships and at street level, this report provides a comprehensive analysis of the ways in which many areas of law can be used to improve the safety and protect the rights of sex workers.

The report presents a wide-ranging list of recommendations proposed by sex workers in the course of this research. The following selection illustrates some key aspects of sex workers’ call to action:

  • Provide sex workers with full access to the rights and protections found in the Employment Standards Act and ensure the legislation explicitly protects a sex worker’s right to maintain control over her or his contracts for the provision of sexual services. 
  • Respect the right of sex workers to unionize and provide resources and support to them throughout the process.
  • Involve sex workers in a meaningful way in municipal governance issues, such as business licensing and city zoning, in order to meet the diverse needs of sex workers from various aspects of the industry as well as the interests of communities.
  • Respect the right of sex workers to have fair and equal access to Workers’ Compensation, Employment Insurance as well as other employment benefits.
  • Enact a provision that ensures that refusal to work in the sex industry does not affect a person’s entitlements to Employment Insurance or Income Assistance.
  • Ensure the freedom of sex workers to choose from a range of business structures.
  • Ensure that income earned through sex work is subject to fair and non-discriminatory taxation and that sex workers are not retroactively taxed once their work becomes recognized as a legal activity.
  • Recognize that a parent’s involvement in sex work does not automatically create grounds for the apprehension of a child or loss of custody, and take steps to ensure that sex workers are not subject to discrimination by the Courts or government.
  • Ensure the right of sex workers to access the human rights complaint process and equal opportunities for social citizenship.
  • Ensure that migrant sex workers are afforded the rights and protections found in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

This report is the beginning of an important social dialogue about the role that the law will play in governing the sex industry in Canada. Pivot has argued that criminal law reform is the first step towards a shift from the status quo, where sex workers are subject to extreme levels of violence and social marginalization, to a society where sex workers are empowered to create safe and dignified working conditions. Criminal law reform will be most effectively carried out if all levels of government consider the findings of this research and contemplate how areas of law that fall within their jurisdiction will play a role in creating a safe and legitimate sex industry.

This report also illustrates why sex workers must be provided with a prominent role in the process of law, policy and social reform. Sex workers have a unique insight and expertise regarding their industry, the role it plays in Canadian society, and the ways in which regulatory schemes will impact their business. Above all, law and policy makers should listen to sex workers in order to understand how the laws affect them, which is a necessary step in ensuring that Canada’s laws comply with the guarantees and protections enshrined in the Charter and other human rights instruments.

Read the full report here:

Musto, Jennifer (2013): Domestic minor sex trafficking and the detention-to-protection Pipeline, in: Dialectical Anthropology, May 2013. (Open Access, full paper available)

Notable discursive changes are afoot with respect to individuals, particularly sex trade–involved youth in the United States. Where once they may have been profiled as juvenile offenders, they are now, thanks to widespread attention to human trafficking, provisionally viewed by law enforcement and their non-state allies as potential victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, replete with traumatic pasts and turbulent family histories that authorize state intervention. This article examines how anti-trafficking policies have been discursively re-imagined to expand policing and rehabilitative interventions for youth. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations, it tracks the discursive sites and spaces in which criminal justice and social justice agendas have coalesced to assist youth and further assesses how attention to domestic minor sex trafficking has simultaneously authorized a multiprofessional detention-to-protection pipeline.