Vancouver Debating Benefits of Legalizing Brothels

An article in the Vancouver weekly, The Georgia Straights, explains the local debate over a proposal to legalize prostitution in Vancouver. Two groups are fighting over whether this will do anything to improve the conditions of sex workers in town.

Carly and I saw a lot of prostitution on the East end of downtown Vancouver during a vacation here two years ago. Apparently, not much has changed since then.

The pro-brothel group, West Coast Cooperative of Sex Industry Professionals (WCCSIP) sees benefits in getting women off the streets and is proposing brothels that offer women non-sex related career skills during downtimes. They describe the current issues like this:

“Residents tell us that they don’t want the condom mess; they don’t wants to look out their windows and see a woman giving a blow job. And the girls want the opportunity to wash themselves between customers.”

That seems reasonable. However, those are all symptoms of a whatever got the women invovled in streetwalking in the first place.

The anti-brothel crowd, Aboriginal Women Action Network (AWAN) doesn’t see brothels as a step toward ending Vancouver’s sex trade.

What’s not clear to me is why the town has such a large hardcore drug problem. Seeing seriously strung out heroin addicts is a common occurance, and surely has something to do with the streetwalking scene.

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