[News] Indigenous Women say NO to 2010 Olympic Brothels!

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Dec 6 19:34:14 EST 2007

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 01:21:34 -0800

<mailto:indigenous.free.school at gmail.com>indigenous.free.school at gmail.com

  Subject: Indigenous Women say NO to 2010 Olympic Brothels!

  December 6, 2007

  Aboriginal Women's Action Network

  As Aboriginal women on occupied Coast Salish Territory, we, the
  Aboriginal Women's Action Network (AWAN) implore you to pay attention
  to the voices of Aboriginal women and women's groups who are speaking
  out in the interest of our sisters, our daughters, our friends and all
  women whose voices have not been heard in the recent media discussion
  on prostitution and legalized brothels for the 2010 Olympics.

  We, the Aboriginal Women's Action Network, speak especially in the
  interests of the most vulnerable women - street prostitutes, of which
  a significant number are young Aboriginal women and girls. We have a
  long, multi-generational history of colonization, marginalization, and
  displacement from our Homelands, and rampant abuses that has forced
  many of our sisters into prostitution. Aboriginal women are often
  either forced into prostitution, trafficked into prostitution or are
  facing that possibility. Given that the average age at which girls
  enter prostitution is fourteen, the majority with a history of
  unspeakable abuses, we are also speaking out for the Aboriginal
  children who are targeted by johns and pimps. Aboriginal girls are
  hunted down and prostituted, and the perpetrators go uncharged with
  child sexual assault and child rape. These predators, pervasive in our
  society, roam with impunity in our streets and take advantage of those
  Aboriginal children with the least protection. While we are speaking
  out for the women in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, we include
  women from First Nations Reserves, and other Aboriginal communities,
  most of whom have few resources and limited choices. We include them
  because AWAN members also originate from those communities, and AWAN
  members interact regularly with Native women from these communities.

  The Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of
  prostitution, and any state regulation of prostitution that entrenches
  Aboriginal women and children in the so-called "sex trade." We hold
  that legalizing prostitution in Vancouver will not make it safer for
  those prostituted, but will merely increase their numbers. Contrary to
  current media coverage of the issue, the available evidence suggests
  that it would in fact be harmful, would expand prostitution and would
  promote trafficking, and would only serve to make prostitution safer
  and more profitable for the men who exploit and harm prostituted women
  and children. Although many well-meaning people think that
  decriminalization simply means protecting prostituted women from
  arrest, it also refers, dangerously, to the decriminalization of johns
  and pimps. In this way prostitution is normalized, johns multiply, and
  pimps and traffickers become legitimated entrepreneurs. Say "No" to
  this lack of concern for marginalized women and children, who in this
  industry are expected to serve simply as objects of consumption! The
  Aboriginal Women's Action Network opposes the legalization of brothels
  for the 2010 Olympics. We refuse to be commodities in the so-called
  "sex industry" or offer up our sisters and daughters to be used as
  disposable objects for sex tourists.

  A harm-reduction model that claims to help prostituted women by moving
  them indoors to legal brothels, not only would not reduce the harm to
  them, but would disguise the real issues. There is no evidence that
  indoor prostitution is safer for the women involved. Rather, it is
  just as violent and traumatic. Prostitution is inherently violent,
  merely an extension of the violence that most prostituted women
  experience as children. We should aim not merely to reduce this harm,
  as if it is a necessary evil and/or inescapable, but strive to
  eliminate it altogether. Those promoting prostitution rarely address
  class, race, or ethnicity as factors that make women even more
  vulnerable. A treatise can be written about Aboriginal women's
  vulnerability based on race, socio-economic status and gender but
  suffice it to say that we are very over-represented in street-level
  prostitution. There may even be a class bias behind the belief that
  street prostitution is far worse than indoor forms. It is not the
  street per se or the laws for that matter, which are the source of the
  problem, but prostitution itself which depends on a sub-class of women
  or a degraded caste to be exploited. A major factor contributing to
  the absence of attention given to the women who have gone missing
  women in Vancouver is the lack of police response, and the insidious
  societal belief that these women were not worthy of protection, a
  message that is explicitly conveyed to the johns, giving them the
  go-ahead to act toward these women with impunity. If we want to
  protect the most vulnerable women, we could start by decriminalizing
  prostituted women, not the men who harm them. Although it is not
  mentioned in the local news, the Swedish model of dealing with
  prostitution provides an example we should seriously consider. It
  criminalizes only the buying of sex, not the selling, targeting the
  customer, pimp, procurer, and trafficker, rather than the prostituted
  woman, and provides an array of social services to aid women to leave
  prostitution. Given that the vast majority of prostituted women wish
  to leave prostitution, we should focus on finding ways to help them to
  do that rather than entrenching them further into prostitution by
  legalizing and institutionalizing it. Here in Vancouver, if we are to
  help those most in need, young Aboriginal women, it would help to
  think more long-term, to focus on healing and prevention. Let's not
  get tricked into a supposed fix which is not even a band-aid, but only
  deepens the wounds.

  AWAN demands that Aboriginal women have the opportunity to raise our
  families within our Traditional values of having a respected position
  for women and children in our societies. The single-most effective way
  of achieving that goal is empowering and resourcing Aboriginal women's
  groups, such as AWAN, so that we can organize, engage with other
  sectors of society and speak with our own voices. We have a great deal
  of certainty that organized Aboriginal women's voices would be calling
  for "Exiting" programs and services, support for Aboriginal women and
  children, and an end to forced prostitution. Let Vancouver enter into
  the 2010 Olympics without wearing the black-eye of decriminalized
  prostitution and legalized brothels that drive Aboriginal women
  further down the Human Rights ladder of Canadian and Vancouver

  For further information, please contact AWAN spokesperson, Laura
  Holland at (604) 767-5564.

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