Vancouver Mayor, MP Support Prostitutes’ Call for Legal Brothels for Olympics

By Hilary White
  VANCOUVER, British Columbia, November 13, 2007 ( – A group of Vancouver prostitutes has been joined by Liberal MP Libby Davies and the Mayor of Vancouver in calling for the Canadian government to legalize brothels and set up a system of government regulated brothels to service johns at the Winter Olympics.
  Susan Davis, an active prostitute and spokesman for the group called the “BC Coalition of Experiential Communities”, says they have the support of both Davies and Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan.
  The Vancouver Sun quotes Davis saying her group is “weeks away” from receiving official recognition as a corporation and wants the government to allow a series of bordellos as an experiment similar to that of the failed Vancouver “safe injection” site. The latter is a government experiment where heroin addicts are provided with clean needles and allowed to inject themselves with their own heroin or cocaine under a nurse’s supervision.
  Workers and sports enthusiasts will be pouring into the city and, said Davis, will want to buy sex. “Just like the workers are coming from all over the world to build the city, sex workers are coming with them,” she said.
  But anti-trafficking campaigners have warned repeatedly that legalizing prostitution has exactly the opposite of the desired effect. Far from protecting the women, they say, it tends to protect only the men who exploit them, both the pimps and the customers. In addition it breaks down the public perception of prostitution as a danger to women and to society.
  Gregory Carlin of the Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition told that the theory just doesn’t work. “No model of ‘prostitution management’, not in Europe, Australia, or New Zealand  has ever migrated street prostitution into a viable off-street or brothel model. That is simply not the way prostitution works.”
  Statistics have shown that in jurisdictions where prostitution has been legalized, such as the Netherlands, governments are reconsidering after rates of child prostitution, sex trafficking and organised crime increased dramatically. In light of this information, the Netherlands has begun to close down some sections of the notorious red light districts in Amsterdam.
  Nevertheless, the push for legalization has made progress around the world. This week, the Catholic bishop of Portsmouth raised a scandal by saying he supported an initiative by the Hampshire Women’s Institutes to legalize bordellos.
  Echoing the so-called “harm reduction” theory behind the pro-prostitution push, Bishop Crispian Hollis said, “If you are going to take a pragmatic view and say prostitution happens, I think there is a need to make sure it’s as well regulated as possible for the health of people involved and for the safety of the ladies themselves.”
  The decision by the Hampshire Women’s Institute, a branch of the UK’s largest women’s organization, was in response to the murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich last year. A spokesman said, “We hope this motion to license brothels will help both working girls and men because zero tolerance of this issue has not worked. Legalization has worked in other countries where women can work in safety.”
  The international consensus is moving sharply against the idea of legalised prostitution, however, with growing evidence that it simply does not work. In addition to the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Finland and Norway have changed their laws to reflect recent research showing that women in brothels suffer routine violence from customers and pimps. The Czech Republic and the three Baltic republics have rejected calls for legalisation.
  In response to the statement from Bishop Hollis and the Women’s Institute, Gregory Carlin said, “I am totally appalled by anybody, be they bishop, or politician, who would argue for tolerated brothel-keeping. The street is the only retirement or pension provision for legal brothel prostitution.”
  The Irish Anti-Trafficking Coalition has asked the National Federation of Women’s Institutes to desist from pro-prostitution advocacy.
  Read related coverage:

  Canada Preparing to Legalize Prostitution?
  Vancouver Mayor and MP Libby Davies Pushing for "Harm Reduction" for Crack and Prostitution

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