FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SWWAC Celebrates Repeal of By-Laws in Winnipeg
Sex Workers of Winnipeg Action Coalition is incredibly pleased to report that the City of Winnipeg’s paternalistic and counter-productive by-laws and licensing concerning body rub and escort practitioners and parlours in Winnipeg have been repealed. We support the removal of these harmful by-laws, and are excited to work with the city to ensure that sex workers do not consequently experience further policing, stigma, and marginalization for their choice to sell or trade sexual services in Winnipeg.
Sex Workers and their allies presented at the Winnipeg City Council meeting on Thursday, January 27th, 2022, to address the report pertaining to the “Doing Business in Winnipeg By-law”. SWWAC demands that sex workers be able to continue to work in Winnipeg–without police involvement and surveillance; this is a workplace safety issue. One cannot prioritize abolitionist motives. When sex work abolitionists are prioritized or consulted for by-laws and policies that directly affect sex workers, we get frameworks and tools that attempt to eradicate sex work, increase harm against us and increase harm for those experiencing exploitation.
The conflation of sex work and trafficking in parts of the report is distressing. We reiterate that trafficking is not endemic to sex work, and treating the issue as though they are one and the same is harmful to both sex workers and individuals experiencing exploitation.
Out of 61 workers surveyed (in research on Toronto massage parlours by Butterfly), the study found no instances of trafficking or forced labour. As a result of these experiences (police raids), the majority of massage and holistic center workers surveyed reported that they were less likely to seek help from law enforcement in future. -HIV Legal Network in support of SWWAC
The by-laws were problematic for a number of reasons. They created space for additional surveillance by law enforcement (decreasing safety), and contained authoritarian, restrictive, and paternalistic rules–with dress codes and large fines associated with arbitrary violations.
My research shows that there is a climate of stigmatization in all health and social services in the city of Winnipeg. This includes city services. This includes policies and by-laws… In short, I am asking you to support sex worker rights to health, safety, and labour protections. -Dr. Claudyne Chevrier
Prohibition of sex work increases violence, isolation, and other harms. SWWAC is dedicated to working with the City of Winnipeg to fight exploitation, not sex workers.