At yesterday’s Red Umbrella march in Vancouver, a former sex worker condemned Canadian federal legislation that criminalizes clients.
Sheryl Kiselbach, the violence-prevention coordinator at the PACE Society, said that she and other current and former sex workers in the crowd have “dated” doctors, police officers, lawyers, judges, and MLAs.
Kiselbach didn’t name names, and instead emphasized the importance of supporting current sex workers who face greater dangers because of legislation passed last year by the Conservative government.
“We need to help them stay safe and we need to support them,” she said.
The red umbrella has long been a symbol of sex workers’ safety, which explains the name of yesterday’s protest.
Kiselbach told the crowd on the south side of the Vancouver Art Gallery that she became a plaintiff in a charter challenge against prostitution laws because she didn’t want sex workers to suffer the same injustices that she endured.
“The laws did not protect me when I reported many violent crimes, including attempted murder,” she said. “Instead, I was treated with contempt, ridicule, discounted, and dismissed. I was treated as a criminal—as though I deserved to be treated this way.”