SWAN recognizes sex work is not trafficking, sexual exploitation, or child and youth exploitation.
Sex work is work. Sex work is the exchange of sexual services between adults for money or goods.
Human trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability; or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purpose of exploitation. Human trafficking can occur in various industries, such as agricultural, construction, garment, manufacturing, hospitality, domestic work and the sex industry, among others.
Sexual exploitation involves any actual or attempted abuse of vulnerable persons, or abuse of a differential power or trust, for sexual purposes.
Child and youth exploitation involves coerced sexual activity with children and youth under the age of 18 in exchange for money, drugs, food, shelter or any other considerations.
We believe that effectively countering human trafficking, sexual exploitation and child and youth exploitation requires recognizing the distinction between these crimes and sex work.
SWAN supports, promotes and advocates for the decriminalization of sex work, and for the enactment of evidence-based laws that will uphold equal human rights, safety, and protections for all individuals engaged in any form of sex work.
SWAN recognizes sex work as work that warrants the same safety, protections, and social and systemic acceptance as other forms of work.
Canada’s Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act (PCEPA) criminalizes several aspects of the sex industry (1). PCEPA is not based on research evidence and is based on moralizing rhetoric that conflates sex work with trafficking and exploitation. The policies and enforcement that result from PCEPA create unsafe working conditions, and increases marginalization and displacement for those engaged in sex work.
For migrant sex workers, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations (IRPR) prohibit temporary residents from engaging in sex work (2). In combination with PCEPA, IRPR creates disproportionate vulnerabilities to violence and barriers to reporting violence.
We believe that safety is a basic human right. SWAN Vancouver advocates for the repeal of unsound and repressive criminal and immigration laws and the enforcement policies they inform.
(1) PCEPA criminalizes paying for sexual services, communicating to exchange sexual services, profiting as a third party from someone else’s sexual services, procuring someone to provide sexual services, and third party advertising to provide sexual services.
(2) IRPR states temporary residents are “not to enter into an employment agreement, or extend the term of an employment agreement, with an employer who, on a regular basis, offers striptease, erotic dance, escort services or erotic massages.”