Sept. 21, 2013 Note: If you buy sex, please participate in a confidential online survey that hopefully will to inform the development of education, service delivery, policy, and legislation that better meets the needs of ALL people involved in Canada’s commercial sex industry.
It’s been awhile since my posts expressing my concern about prostitution in east downtown Kitchener so I wanted to share a quick update with you.
I have been pursuing my two prong strategy to put an end to address the problem of sex workers in and near my neighbourhood–and without simply moving them to someone else’s neighbourhood.
Reporting to Police
I have made many calls to the police to report the activities of sex workers. It’s not every day but it’s still often enough that I continue to be concerned. I am not alone. I know of at least one other neighbour who is also calling in reports.
I find that the most frequent location for these women is the corner of King and Eby. In many ways, this intersection is where the east end of downtown Kitchener begins and so is where the most attention is needed by social service agencies and law enforcement. But that is not the only area of concern since some of the women do work further east.
The police are definitely aware of the problem and where it exists. And I’ve noticed a definite difference when a police cruiser is parked along this stretch while waiting for a call than when they aren’t around. This attention to the east end of downtown is appreciated though I’m still hoping to see more officers on foot, bicycles or horses especially at peak times (when clients are going to or from work).
Outreach by social service agencies
My wife and I met with Cathy Middleton of the YWCA who is co-chair of the Sex Workers Action Network. She agreed that there was no reason why we should need to accept this situation anymore than people who live near Ottawa and Fischer-Hallman or Ottawa and River Rd–not to mention Westmount and Glasgow. She informed us that there had been talk about having outreach workers help the women to address their issues such as poverty and drug addiction. A similar program has been extremely successful in assisting people experiencing homelessness in the downtown core. She was hopeful that existing workers could play a role in the short term until a dedicated program could be established. The inREACH program to help youth involved in gangs or at risk of becoming involved is another model of collaborative action to address a pressing social concern in Waterloo Region.
I have been in touch with Cathy a couple of times since and unfortunately summer has impeded any progress but she’s promised to continue to pull the players together who can make something happen. I look forward to hearing about what action they plan to take.
Some other perspectives on prostitution
There have been some other people talking about prostitution since my posts.
- Emily Baetz wrote an excellent column about the underlying root causes for why women sell their bodies on the street and some of the ways they are currently being addressed locally.
- My posts inspired a local podcast called Slightly Sauced to talk about prostitution. Here is a direct link to the conversation. There ares some interesting insights mixed in with the jokes though not all of it is well informed. I wish that most of the group had actually read my posts and were familiar with my community-building, social justice focus before commenting. I can assure them for example that the sex workers I see at street corners would never be mistaken for a university student heading out for a night on the town. Nor am I an old curmudgeon who should mind his own business. If anything, recent events have reinforced the need for our neighbourhood be proactive and ensure it continues to be a great place to live and raise a family. It would have been a much different conversation if I could have participated as I was invited to do.