c/o City of Vancouver Mayor and Council (cc Chief of Police & Premier of BC)
Dear Mayor Robertson & Council,
I appreciate the "paradigm-shift" that I have been reading about taking place at City Hall and the VPD and new efforts that are taking place in light of the Missing Women Inquiry to move away from "enforcement" towards "root-cause analysis".
I am however concerned about terminology. "Vice" is a good term even if it carries "moral-implications", vice covers such things as the use (or abuse) of such products as alcohol, tobacco & drugs, or services such as gambling and prostitution (sexual services). Moral implications need to be recognized as they relate to the individual (their behavior) and their Rights on one hand to consume such things along with their Responsibilities on the other, not to cause damage to themselves (or others including all of society).
The extent to which "vice" is tolerated in any given society is determined by public attitudes and expressed through government policy and laws. Vice has traditionally been associated with immorality such as attributing one who uses vice to having bad morals. It is the different view of morality in our society that has changed, not vice itself, and to a large extent this is good as it recognizes the human need for such things as stress relief.... Our challenge now is to decide how far this should go without creating a "moral hazard" a slippery slope in which "everything goes".... My own view is that vice should be used as a way to reward (healthy) good behavior, not used as a way to excuse (unhealthy) bad behavior.
Another term that concerns me is "Counter Exploitation Unit" which is being set-up to help "protect" Street-Level Sex Trade Workers... No offense as I know the intentions are good, but this term immediately strikes me as reflecting badly on buyers of sex from street level sex trade workers, essentially painting all buyers as "exploiters". Even though street level (low cost, usually taking place in cars) sex trade only represents 20% of the sex trade (as discussed in my previous research reporting), and it is of course the most dangerous way to offer (or buy) such services compared to services offered indoors. It is, however, still relatively safe considering the enormous (drive-through) volume of usage of these services. One bad apple (Picton) should not be used to paint all buyers of these services in a bad light. Where would these girls be without buyers of their services ? They would probably need to steal or engage in other crimes to support their drug habit (which most of them have which keeps them from working safely indoors with others).
As a matter of fact, street level sex trade workers are already committing a crime just by working on the street... they are essentially marketing services on the street without a business licence such as a street vending license which even lowly hot dog stands need to get....
The argument that these girls are "forced" onto the streets is not true as 80% of Sex Work takes place indoors... Yes, in a grey area legally... but as you know these laws have recently been knocked down.... These girls are purposely putting themselves at risk in a similar fashion to snowboarders who go out of bounds on the mountain, getting lost, then forcing the rest of us to go looking for them or spending a lot of money to pay experts to risk their lives rescuing them. All in the name of getting their "fix" or "high"....
I understand that to make things safer for the street level sex workers that cameras have been installed on some streets, unfortunately these do not record licence plate numbers and cars take the girls out of the neighborhood anyway.... A better option might be to use a - parkade - that has been designated for this purpose... that would record license numbers when cars drive in.... and collect a small fee when they leave. Shower and washroom facilities could be available for Sellers and Buyers as well as a depot with condoms & lube, etc.... Along with maybe even a Bike Rack. Safe sex practices and rehab could also be available and encouraged. Cameras and security patrols could help maintain safety.
As discussed, the sexual services these girls typically provide are usually quick & simple, usually oral gratification leading to orgasm (also called a blowjob and sometimes called "playing the flute" (for those who are artistically inclined)). Costs for this service is usually around $20 and is useful for those on a budget or those who are shy about using indoor facilities.
What I am saying is there needs to be greater balance in terms of respect for both the Sellers as well as the Buyers of sexual services and the terminology (like the "paradigm-shift") needs to reflect this...
- See my posting on PERB for further discussion - Oodles of dollars are available to conduct "root-cause analysis"
"Those who deny human nature are consumed by it"