Getting ready for 2010 Olympics?

10 07 2009

I’m sure you have noticed, with all the hype on the upcoming Olympics, Vancouver is busy. Constructions are happening everywhere, from apartment buildings to public transit facilities. Have you ever wondered though, with all these construction projects going on at once, where in the world these did these workers come from?

Apparently, we get a lot of foreign workers. A lot. According to this article, in mid 2008, there were 2,000 to 3,000 foreign workers and thousands more unaccounted for in BC alone. Legally or illegally, these people were being trafficked from Southern American region, particularly Mexico. And these people too, are prone to abuse. Abuse in a sense that they are being exploited and underpaid. Unfortunately for them, leaving a job to another is not that easy. The lengthy process of getting a new work permit has prevented them to even reporting the abuse.  Okay, back on track.

What I’m trying to say is, with the increasing number of foreign workers, there is an increase in demand for sexual services. And if I may quote “sex trade workers in Vancouver are busier than ever” (Chris Atchison). And the Olympics is not even here yet.
Given these foreign workers live all over Vancouver, there is likelihood that sex trade workers from downtown east side will be taken out of their “safety zone” even further. How about if they were taken on a date to an unfamiliar area, where there is only little lighting? Or an area where there is just no one around. Sex trade workers are even more susceptible to violence than ever.

Don’t forget about the “social cleansing” mentioned in a previous post. Cleaning up the streets mean that these sex trade workers have to, willing or unwillingly, go some place else. And then the question comes up again. Where can they go? Where should they go? What if every street in Vancouver is being cleaned from sex trade workers? Then these women must go where they are unseen and almost invisible. That means they have to go to dark streets, dark alleys, industrial areas, and everywhere else they can be less visible.

An alley on East Hastings. Is it a better place than the streets?

An alley on East Hastings. Is it a better place than the streets?

Many sex trade workers, interest groups and organizations have been pleading for decriminalization of prostitution and legalized brothels, which hopefully will increase safety for sex trade workers. However, the idea of having legalized brothels seem to be far-fetched. Disagreements come from many levels of society: Vancouverites, politicians, local government, and all the way up to federal government level. The idea of decriminalization too, received favourable and ufavourable responses. Some would agree that providing brothels mean providing a safer, controlled space for these women, where they can be much safer than being on the streets. But some would argue that brothels may induce more people to become prostitutes.
If these ideas are much opposed, what’s the better idea then?