It has come to our attention that Gunilla Ekberg and REED (Resist Exploitation, Embrace Dignity) are coming to town. REED believes that "prostitution is violence against women" inherently. Ms. Ekberg is a proponent of the "Nordic Model" of law whereby sex work is still illegal but only the buyers are charged criminally. Another presenter at the event, Trisha Baptie, is a well known abolitionist in Canada. The event will take place at the Victoria Public Library on Tuesday March 8 at 6pm.
We are asking for your support in attending this event and challenging their claims.
PEERS disagrees with REED's perspective and believes that it is not a rational or useful approach to sex work. Criminalizing the sex industry as a whole without distinguishing between the wide variety of sex workers' experiences helps no one. It is crucial to differentiate between those who are forced into sex work through trafficking, those who are in the trade through circumstances such as poverty and those who choose the work from a position of empowerment. Further, making it legal to ply your trade but illegal to have customers is about as reasonable as saying that it is legal to trade sexual services for money, but illegal to talk about it, which is what current laws state.
Many sex workers have criticised the Nordic model, including most sex workers' rights organizations across North America and Western Europe. Some sex workers in Sweden are reporting now they are being set up as 'bait' by the police against their will. This model of sex work law both patronizes and disempowers sex workers.
PEERS believes that the only truly feminist and approach to sex work is to respect the voices and experiences of actual sex workers. We do not believe in creating laws that assist a small number of sex workers - those trafficked and exploited - and leave everyone else out. Although issues of exploitation, trafficking and violence are very real in the sex industry, they are not universal. Classifying sex work as inherently exploitative is overly simplistic, and fosters the idea that all sex workers are victims.
Within that framework, the only difference that is acknowledged between them is their degree of victimhood. The hierarchy of who will be listened to and who won't in debates around sex work laws has to stop. It has no place in the lives of those in the sex trade, no matter how they got in, where they want to go and whether or not they want out.