Big Susie’s, Sex Professionals of Canada, Sex Workers Action Group Kingston, Stepping Stone, Maggie’s: The Toronto Sex Workers Action Group and Stella join fellow sex workers’ organizations in condemning recent police activities that use deception and intimidation to investigate trafficking and exploitation, driving the sex trade further underground and away from safety. Three hundred and thirty three sex workers across the country were targeted.
In cities across Canada, male officers are posing as clients to book appointments with indoor sex workers. Several officers then show up at the worker’s door, demanding entry in order to check for signs of trafficking or coercion. Once inside, officers bombard the worker (usually a woman) with personal questions, demand to see ID and search the worker’s premises and possessions.
Tragically, such duplicitous and intimidating policing tactics hinder the important goal of surfacing actual cases of exploitation and coercion. “Part of our work as a sex workers’ rights and advocacy organization is to support anybody who might find themselves in a coercive situation,” shares Phoenix from Maggie’s. “I can tell you that these sorts of deceitful and menacing approaches further degrade trust between sex workers and the police, and stop people in exploitative situations from seeking and accepting police assistance.”
This policing strategy seems to contradict the recent Supreme Court decision that insisted that the law cannot be used to further endanger the security and safety of sex workers. As Valerie Scott from Sex Professionals of Canada points out, “Police intimidation pushes us further into the shadows, and sets up the same kind of circumstances that the Supreme Court just ruled are unacceptable.”