Ottawa marks day to end violence against sex workers
Published Monday, December 17, 2012 10:41PM EST
About a dozen people gathered in support of sex workers in Ottawa to mark the 10th annual International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Many came to remember sex workers who are missing or who have been murdered in Ottawa and Gatineau.
In the Ottawa-Gatineau area, 6 murders of sex workers remain unsolved including Leanne Lawson, whose body was found in a parking lot on King Edward Avenue in Lowertown in September 2011 as well as Jennifer Stewart who was stabbed and found in a parking lot in Vanier in August 2010.
“It’s a reminder of all the ridiculous prejudice that goes on,” said Allison Armstrong. “It's a reminder of who has died and a reminder of how much work there is to do,” said
The event was organized by members of Prostitutes of Ottawa-Gatineau Work Educate Resist (POWER) and Families of Sisters in Spirit (FSIS).
In December 2011, former police chief Vern White issued a warning to sex trade workers. He said police had identified a pattern of violence toward them and urged them to be more careful than ever before.
“Often times these warnings come out saying there's something that women or sex workers should be doing to protect themselves when in fact we need to be looking at the bigger picture and looking at violence and what kind of violence is happening and whose perpetrating that,” said Sarah North.
Many in attendance said the night was about educating the public and showing that sex workers should be protected regardless of their profession.
"These are family members, these are people that are deeply loved and it's not ok to harm sex workers," said Kristen Gilchrist with FSIS.
"I have friends who are sex workers and I think about that ‘what if’,” said North. “They could easily be one of those women. One of the speakers tonight was saying that, that could be me and why should murder have to be a risk for my job? That's not normal.”
With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Katie Griffin