Two months ago, the women who lead the incredible Downtown Eastside organization Sex Workers United Against Violence (SWUAV) gathered around the conference table at the Pivot office and stuffed envelopes. Four hundred and twelve envelopes, to be exact.
They were sending letters to each and every Member of Parliament and Senator in response to the new sex work legislation, Bill C-36, that the federal Conservatives introduced this summer.
The women of SWUAV wanted our federal politicians to come to the DTES community, meet with them, listen to their stories, and see what their lives are like; to understand how the legislation they draft directly impacts their lives.
Four hundred and twelve invitations were sent. One person accepted.
Canadian politicians ignoring sex workers
Last week, that one Member of Parliament came and met with SWUAV members in the DTES. She listened to their stories and toured the neighbourhood. She saw where they work and where they live. She heard stories about the importance of screening clients, working closely with other women and having full access to the police. She heard how these safety measures are impossible under Canada’s existing prostitution laws, and will continue to be impossible under Bill C-36.