Former sex workers fight stigma

Media Outlet: The Sudbury Star
Posted: Nov 27, 2013

Jen (not her real name) started working the streets at 12 years old. She was a Children’s Aid kid and did it to survive. When she turned 16, she moved out of foster care, found an apartment and got a job.

Society often views sex work as an identity, not an activity, and Jen argues many sex workers self-stigmatize.

“That category of sex worker is a master identity — it’s a permanent social identity,” she explains. “You’re viewed as a pariah, as damaged, as amoral. People feel comfortable treating you poorly, which reflects an awareness that organizations aren’t going to take up your rights or enforce them in the same way.”

A couple dozen concerned residents braved the snowy roads to gather at the Croatian Centre on Kathleen Street this week for a public forum on sex work. Organized by the Greater Sudbury Police, NOAH’s SPACE, the Sudbury Action Centre for Youth, the Corner Clinic and Shkagamik-kwe Health Centre, it pointed to the ongoing stigmatization of sex workers, which can deter women from accessing services or leaving the trade.