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SEX TRADE WORKERS – The Flip Side

Deus Sex

I had a good reminder yesterday.

A reminder about some of the not so obvious impacts of the sex trade and the flawed strategies aimed at curtailing it.

The reminder came in the way of an emotionally charged blog post called “The Truth About Street Prostitution – A Resident’s Perspective on the #yegsecret that is Not.”  The story was posted on a site called NICE (Neighbours in Central Edmonton) and was written by a frustrated contributor voicing concerns about living in a neighbourhood infested with sex trade workers.  

The City of Edmonton and the City of Winnipeg face similar challenges regarding high violent crime indexes and issues surrounding drug trafficking, street gangs and the sex trade.  In 2013, Edmonton recorded twenty-eight (28) Homicides leading all other major western urban centres.  (Winnipeg came second recording twenty-five.)

Much of my career in Law Enforcement revolved around murder, gangs, drugs and sex trade investigations.

After graduating from the Police Academy I was assigned to patrol the Main Street zone, an area plagued by drug traffickers, pimps, prostitutes and a variety of other criminal misfits.  In the months and years that followed I would come to know literally hundreds of street prostitutes who plied their trade on “the drag.”

The women who worked the stroll came from diverse backgrounds, demographics and racial origins.  The majority, however, were young Aboriginal women who came to the big City from remote towns in Northern Manitoba.  Diverse backgrounds and racial origins aside, these women were all connected by one commonality.  They almost all struggled with serious, debilitating, drug addiction issues.

These women were helplessly trapped in the dreaded sex trade worker 24 /7 cycle of drug addiction; seek out a customer – get paid – get drugs – get high and repeat.  Feeding the drug addiction became the entire focus of their universe and meant the sacrifice of a “normal” human existence.  Basic necessities like food, sleep, warmth, family and personal security were disregarded in favour of their street drug of choice.

There can be no doubt, these women are victims on many levels.

That doesn’t mean they don’t victimize, as the author of the NICE blog post suggests.

The truth is, street prostitutes often present great danger to their clients as many of these women have emotional or mental health issues, are sleep deprived, violent, malnourished and suffer from a variety of health issues that include STD’s, HIV, AIDS and hepatitis.  They also have a propensity to carry edged weapons and frequently “jack” or rob their clients.

In Winnipeg, several men have been murdered by sex trade workers.

But there’s more to the story.

Street prostitutes have a nasty habit of degrading the safety and security of the neighbourhoods where they choose to ply their trade.  While the men who use the services provided by sex trade workers make a conscious choice to expose themselves to the risks associated to the sex trade, senior citizens, parents and children who live in the affected neighborhoods make no such choice.

Imagine having to educate young and innocent minds about the dangers of picking up the used condoms and syringes that litter your neighbourhood.

Imagine your children being exposed to women performing oral sex or sexual intercourse in parked cars on your streets.

Imagine your child observing scantily clad prostitutes flashing their breasts at Johns as they curb crawl  in your neighbourhood.

Imagine men propositioning your teenaged daughters for sexual favours as they walk home from school.

Imagine being verbally abused or robbed by drug crazed street prostitutes working on your street corners.

The people who live in lower-income neighbourhoods in Winnipeg, Edmonton and other major urban centres in Canada don’t have to imagine these things.  These things form part of their every day experience and define the struggle for economically challenged neighbourhoods to reclaim their dignity, safety and security.

Much like the Edmonton experience, political and strategic approaches by Law Enforcement in Winnipeg have made significant contributions to the problem.  That’s because Police enforcement in conjunction with traffic calming measures aimed at deterring street prostitution forced sex trade workers to leave industrial areas on the “low track” (Higgins, Main, Martha) in favour of residential areas in the West and North End.

Good intentions aside, it seems someone should be concerned about a remedy.

The fact is, the NICE people and the people in Winnipeg who sit on their porches in the West and North Ends are victims of geographical genocide.  Street prostitution would never be tolerated in affluent neighbourhoods in Winnipeg where urban professionals and middle class tax payers reside.

So why is it okay for it to occur in other neighbourhoods?

The answer is, it’s not!

Now that the Supreme Court of Canada has spoken on the issue it’s time for our Politicians, Social Services, Prosecutors and Police to put their collective heads together and come up with a new strategy to deal with issues related to the sex trade and street prostitution.

One of their prime objectives should be to eradicate the sex trade from all of our residential neighbourhoods regardless of geographical status or significance.

If for no other reason, shouldn’t we do it for the kids?

FACTOIDS:

Winnipeg Sex Trade Killers;

January 28, 1994 – Paul Pshebnicki (67) killed by sex trade worker Cynthia Lee Friesen (23) at his residence at 470 Pacific Ave.  Friesen was later acquitted by a jury after esteemed defense lawyer Mr Greg Brodsky made a successful argument for self defense.

March 15, 2002 – James Fero (35) murdered while standing on Sherbrook Street when fatally stabbed in the chest by sex trade worker Amanda Stove (24) during strong arm robbery.  Fero had no connection to Stove or the sex trade.

July 31, 2010 – Michael Allan (62) brutally murdered in his home by sex trade worker Mary Ellen Thomas (30) after Allan picked her up at a 7-11 in the West End.

December 26 / 27, 2013 – Keith McFee (69) slain by sex trade worker Leanne May Henderson (31) in his residence after he picked her up at an undisclosed location.

RELATED LINKS:

The Police Insider – St Vital Murder 25th Slaying of 2013 

The Police Insider – Elusive Killers – Sex Trade Worker Slayings Not so Easy to Solve

NICE – “The Truth About Street Prostitution – A Residents Perspective on the #yegsecret that is Not”

12 Comments

  1. I’m for complete eradication. It’s never okay to buy and sell men, women and children.

    City and provincial governments meddle all the time. It ticks me off when city councils give out business licenses to run massage parlors and so-called spa’s when they’re only fronts for the sex trade. That’s not helping. It provides a safe place for (child) traffickers to do business out of the watchful eye of law enforcement and the public. Seriously, what were they thinking?

    You know what’s missing from this story? At least 30% of the males on the troll are pedophiles looking for kids. Prostitutes will never report them (thats their bread and butter). There are so many reasons to make sure all aspects of prostitution are made illegal, including communicating for the purpose.

    The solutions have always been out there. It’s the follow through with government funding that fails.

    If I had a choice, I’d still see prostitutes arrested, convicted and forced into diversion programs aimed at getting them off the street, off drugs, into therapy and housing. The foundations start there. Not all prostitutes are victims. Some are very much a part of the problem of human trafficking and other serious crimes. They’re the ones I have no sympathy for and no amount of diversion will help them. Knowing the difference between the victim and the abuser is key.

    Pimps (they’re called bodyguards here in Ontario, what ego’s) arrested, given real jail time and sex offender status (for a first offence).

    Johns need to be arrested, fined, and jailed for repeat offences.

    I might come off a tad strict, but looking at this problem from the outside is completely different than having been forced to live it.

    The question now is, will our governments follow through? Not likely.

  2. You are clearly informed and passionate about the subject matter in this story. I appreciate the fact that you took the time to share your thoughts on the subject and add to the conversation…..thank you!

  3. The Swedish Model is one that I hope Canada will implement. The John is the one who is charged instead of the prostitute. The fact is that many of the John’s who are buying sex are wealthy, high paid and married individuals who would not want their name tarnished or a phone call made to their wife that they are in a jail cell for trying to buy sex.

    The Sex trade is a deep dark web of deceit. Many people don’t take the time to actually understand what is going on behind the mask that many of these girls wear. The Majority are not there by choice, nor do they have the option to leave.

    When a girl enters the sex trade, she is there under false promise, has been coarsed by a pimp, forced by the selling of a family member or is being trafficked through kidnapping. This is not the case for all, some will enter because of drug addiction already or because they have been severely abused in the past.

    I went to a brothel in Regina Saskatchewan. We used to go and pray at these places. Most of them are under the cover of Massage Parlors. I met a young girl who looked about the age of 15. The house was ran by women. Many of these girls were foreign and had come to Canada in hope of a better future. But at the hands of their traffickers that is not what they received.

    When the pimp or trafficker gets hold of her these girls go through a period of time called the breaking grounds where they are beaten, addicted to drugs, have unspeakable sexual acts done to them and basically have their wills broken so there will be no resistance. They become like dogs to their pimps and traffickers who will punish them if they do not perform properly. This is not a choice for these women. They are enslaved by their captor.

    The mental state prostitute who is has been rescued from slavery is comparative to someone suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.There are only 150 beds within the U.S to rescue women from the sex trade.

    This is so much more than just buying and selling sex, its the captivity a person. If we legalize prostitution and make it a culture norm, we will only increase the demand. If we increase the demand we will need to increase the supply. Meaning that more women and more children will need to enter into the sex trade. These people are someones daughter, sister, mother, cousin. If we make it legal to strip someones humanity from then all because we can not control our sexual urges then we have lost our humanity.

    Go watch the Movie Nefarious: Merchant of souls. It documents the sex trade across the world. This is not a localized problems its a sick plague that has crept its way across our entire world. There is so much I could say about this injustice. But the most important thing I could say is that we need to make ourselves aware of what is actually going on in our world. What we are doing to one another for the sake of “pleasure”. This web of human slavery embodies so much of what our culture has become. We need to quit being so naive and wake up the the truth of the world we live in and ask ourselves what we will do to make this a better and safer place to live.

  4. The Swedish Model is one that I hope Canada will implement. The John is the one who is charged instead of the prostitute. The fact is that many of the John’s who are buying sex are wealthy, high paid and married individuals who would not want their name tarnished or a phone call made to their wife that they are in a jail cell for trying to buy sex.

    The Sex trade is a deep dark web of deceit. Many people don’t take the time to actually understand what is going on behind the mask that many of these girls wear. The Majority are not there by choice, nor do they have the option to leave.

    When a girl enters the sex trade, she is there under false promise, has been coarsed by a pimp, forced by the selling of a family member or is being trafficked through kidnapping. This is not the case for all, some will enter because of drug addiction already or because they have been severely abused in the past.

    I went to a brothel in Regina Saskatchewan. We used to go and pray at these place. Most of them are under the cover of Massage Parlors. I met a young girl who looked about the age of 15. The house was ran by women. Many of these girls were foreign and had come to Canada in hope of a better future. But at the hands of their traffickers thatch not what they received.

    When the pimp or trafficker gets ahold of her these girls go through a period of time called the breaking grounds where they are beaten, addicted to drugs, have unspeakable sexual acts done to them and basically have their wills broken so there will be no resistance. They become like dogs to their pimps and traffickers who will punish them if they do not perform properly. This is not a choice for these women. They are enslaved by their captor.

    The mental state prostitute who is has been rescued from slavery is comparative to someone suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome.There are only 150 beds within the U.S to rescue women from the sex trade.

    This is so much more than just buying and selling sex, its the captivity a person. If we legalize prostitution and make it a culture norm, we will only increase the demand. If we increase the demand we will need to increase the supply. Meaning that more women and more children will need to enter into the sex trade. There people are someones daughter, sister, mother, cousin. If we make it legal to strip someones humanity from then all because we can not control our sexual urges then we have lost our humanity.

    Go watch the Movie Nefarious: Merchant of souls. It documents the sex trade across the world. This is not a localized problems its a sick plague that has crept its way arcross our enitre worl. There is so much I could say about this injustice. But the most important thing I could say is that we need to make ourselves aware of what is actually going on in our world. What we are doing to one another for the sake of “pleasure”. This web of human slavery embodies so much of what our culture has become. We need to quit being so naive and wake up the the truth of the world we live in and ask ourselves what we will do to make this a better and safer place to live.

  5. Thanks Katie….

  6. Another well written, informative article regarding life in Winnipeg.

  7. An issue with many layers.

    Thank you for providing the flip side of the flip side….

  8. Very lost…very abused..very addicted women…all with stories most of the “normal” people couldn’t understand. Yet…some very dangerous. An age old problem. …yet…we are unable to find a solution. Probably because its hard to instill self esteem into the lives and minds of people who have never been shown how to respect or love themselves. I can only say this because I’ve met many many of them. Unfortunately ….most of the ones I have known..are no longer with us. …..

  9. Charles Adler @cjob posed that question to me during a recent appearance on his show. Much like marihuana, I think legalized prostitution is going to be an eventual reality. I see Government regulation more than Government “control.” Tax it, regulate it, offer addiction treatment and ensure health protocols are met….

    It would be an interesting experiment.

  10. Yea it would be interesting to see what would happen if this was a problem in an affluent neighbourhood, what are your thoughts on legalizing it and having it controlled by the government similar to Amsterdam.

  11. Good question….

    In light of the Supreme Court of Canada’s recent decision the problem has become more complex.

    The WPS recently came out with a new perspective on prostitution, viewing sex trade workers as victims of crime who are sexually exploited by the men who utilize their services.

    With that in mind, a new approach at enforcement and eradication of street prostitution is required. Like any other commodity being sold, the sex trade market is subject to the impacts of supply and demand. Now that the sex trade workers (supply) are viewed as victims, enforcement efforts have to be made to impact the johns (demand).

    More needs to be done on the supply (victim) side of the equation regarding addiction treatment, education and social services.

    Street solicitation should be made a serious offence with the threat of jail time and heavy fines that should include the seizure of vehicles used during the solicitation process. I also feel the publication of convicted offenders names and photos would be a significant deterrent. Education and compulsory John school can help reduce recidivism.

    This is a complex issue that requires a multifaceted, multi-agency approach.

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers.

    The fact remains, street prostitution would never be tolerated in affluent or middle class neighbourhoods.

    Every problem has a solution as long as the “care factor” is there.

  12. Good read as per usual, I agree with your viewpoint, any thoughts as to what could/should be done to eradicate this problem?

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