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Vancouver sex-trade help group receives city funding 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver



A new consortium of support services dedicated to helping sex workers leave the trade has been approved for funding by the City of Vancouver.

On Thursday, Battered Women’s Support Services executive director Angela Marie MacDougall confirmed the group will receive $35,000 from the city, plus about $15,000 of in-kind funding from six organizations that make up the consortium, to fund the initial year of the exit-sex-trade strategy.

“When people want to exit it’s not a one-off process. It takes time. It takes several starts and stops,” she said.

“The reasons for sex work are vast and varied. Often it’s economic reasons … there’s poverty, sexual exploitation and homelessness.”

The consortium includes the Aboriginal Front Door Society, SWAN Vancouver, Hustle Health Initiative for Men, Pace Society and Wish Drop-in Centre Society, in addition to the BWSS.

MacDougall said its intention is to connect any sex worker wanting to exit the trade to people that could best help them — and not be turned away.

By example, she said, the BWSS focuses on women that have issues with violence. Hustle, in turn, would assist male sex workers, while SWAN focuses on indoor sex workers, and so on.

Vancouver Coun. Kerry Jang said two city staff members would be “on the street with the consortium and sex-trade workers themselves” and report back regularly.

“A lot of programs already exist to punish johns and those who prey on them,” he said. “What happens to sex trade workers themselves? Many are simply selling their bodies to survive, whether it’s food or something else.

“They’re forgotten, stigmatized and treated less than human.”



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