Category Archives: Working

“We’ve told three lies”: When our visionaries take one step back in order to leap forward.

By Ashley White

When one has hit upon – or stumbled, whatever – their own version of meaningful, substantive work, one also usually finds for themselves visionaries in the field to look to as mentors.  Because we know thatattachment to the labour force is a social determinant of health, meaningful attachment, then, requires things like: leaders, opportunities for innovation and positive deviance, and trails half-blazed (pardon the pun).

For me, Mark Haden has been one of these visionaries since I first met him in 2008.  He’s a Vancouver drug educator, among many other things, who has changed his mind – and his presentations – on how to do drug education to adults and youth over the past 25 years.  In the video below, in an interview filmed and produced by the  Canadian Drug Policy Coalition’s Heiko Decosas for the CDPC’s Blog, Mark outlines three lies that have typically prevented the general public from engaging in meaningful discourse on drug use.  Without good information, we can’t have good dialogue and we can’t build smart policy.  The lies? Misconstruing the harms of drugs, not explaining the harms of prohibition, and not explaining the potential benefits of drugs.

Mark is making a real difference.

Continue reading

Tagged ,

The end of the journey to safe, regulated markets for sex work? No. It’s more like a stop-over.

For me, it’s been a passionate and outspoken six year crusade to improve the human rights, safety, and dignity of Canadian sex workers.  For others, it’s been decades.  For some, the issue is just beginning to register as mainstream.  On Monday, March 26, 2012, there was yet another exciting stop-over in a journey that has yet to reach an end.

I was up at 5:45am and sitting across from Rick Cluff at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) at 6:40am to discuss the constitutional challenge to Canada’s Prostitution Laws in Ontario.  Justice Susan Himel struck down three laws relating to sex work in September of 2010:  Keeping a Common Bawdy House (Section 210), Living off the Avails (subsection J of Section 212), and Communication for the Purposes of Prostitution (Section 213).  This was a historic victory for Canadian sex workers as these particular laws work both individually and collectively to prevent sex workers from taking safety precautions while engaged in an exchange of sex for money – an exchange which has NEVER been illegal in Canada.

Working at an indoor location, rather than on the street, is much safer and this is backed up by reams of evidence, both qualitative and quantitative. Working indoors means that sex workers have better control over their working environment including having someone else present if anything goes wrong.

The Living off the Avails law was enacted, in part, to protect sex workers from exploitative pimps.  In reality, this law can apply to ANYONE who receives financial support from a sex worker, including her partner or her children.  This law also prohibits sex workers from hiring individuals to provide additional safety such as security guards, drivers and receptionists.  I would also point out that there are violent, exploitive men living off the avails of women in a variety of professions – the financial exploitation of women is not restricted to the sex trade. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,