Grace Lore, Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity, has released the following statement to recognize the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers:
“Every year on Dec. 17, people worldwide rally to end violence and hate crimes against people doing sex work. This day is also known as Red Umbrella Day, the red umbrella being a symbol of resistance to discrimination and to defend the human rights of all sex workers.
“What we know is that the statistics are horrifying. Up to 75% of sex workers experience violence in their lifetime. Among trans and non-binary individuals, twice as many sex workers as compared to non-sex workers have experienced physical or sexual assault in the past five years.
“Indigenous people, racialized people, newcomers and those who are undocumented, as well as those with disabilities, who work in this criminalized economy are also at greater risk of being targeted.
“We also know that stigma and criminalization against sex workers may contribute to barriers to reporting assaults to the police for fear of not being taken seriously or being arrested. Recent studies have determined that almost one-third of sex workers in Canada report being reluctant to call 911 out of fear of police response.
“This is something we must change. Our work as a Province to introduce an action plan that addresses gender-based violence will include the voices and views of sex workers in B.C.
“We work in support of organizations such as PACE Society in Vancouver, which recently received provincial funding to support emergency sexual assault services, and WISH Drop-In Centre Society, which received funding for health, educational, employment and harm-reduction supports for sex workers, including the drop-in centre, open 365 nights a year.
"In 2020, provincial funding allowed WISH to open Canada’s first-ever 24/7 temporary emergency shelter for street-based sex workers. The shelter has operated at capacity since the day it opened, highlighting the urgent need for housing and safe spaces.
“And we value and support organizations, such as Peers Victoria, as well as the many sex workers in our province. All people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, live and work free from violence, and with equal access to justice.
“I join sex workers, their families, friends and allies in calling for an end to violence because of the hatred, stigma and discrimination that remain all too prevalent here in B.C. and in communities throughout the world.”