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A Case for Co-Op Brothels

A Case for Co-Op Brothels

Turn on the nightly news, and chances are you won’t see a story about an abused prostitute, a tortured call girl, or an abducted escort, though the epidemic of violent acts against them is ongoing. With few laws to protect them and fewer sympathizers in their corner, sex workers ride a strange line of being physically exposed and socially invisible.

The West Coast Co-operative of Sex Industry Professionals (WCCSIP) in Vancouver, Canada, is taking the safety of sex workers into its own hands, reports Joanna Chiu in Herizons.

The WCCSIP, made up of women, men, and trans-individuals, is one of several successful sex-worker organizations around the world. (In India, the group Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee has 65,000 members.) In an ambitious new proposal aimed to reduce violence against sex workers, the WCCSIP is lobbying to start a co-op brothel in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Writes Chiu:

The WCCSIP is offering the City of Vancouver detailed plans on how it intends to create a place where sex workers can bring their clients and rent affordable rooms, starting at two dollars, for the amount of time they need, rather than paying for expensive hotel rooms. The co-op brothel would offer safety features such as emergency buttons in each room, 24-hour security and front desk reception.

Currently, Susan Davis, head of the WCCSIP and herself an escort, brings clients to her apartment, where the bedroom is reserved for business. (She and her boyfriend sleep in the living room.) “If something goes wrong, I’m hoping that my neighbors will hear me,” she tells Chiu. “But if you’re working in a brothel, then people are all around you.”

Although, technically, prostitution isn’t a crime in Canada, many aspects of the trade — such as owning a brothel or communicating for the purposes of prostitution — are. By renting private rooms, workers at the co-op brothel would avoid breaking laws and ending up in jail.

Beyond increased levels of physical and legal protection, the co-op would provide additional benefits, such as micro-loans for small businesses, school scholarships, and employment counseling for those who want to leave the sex industry.

“We will keep pushing our plans for the co-op brothel forward,” Davis says. “This project could really transform our community and build momentum for all efforts to improve sex workers’ rights.”

Source: Herizons (article not available online)

This post was originally published by the UTNE reader.

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Photo from eschipul via flickr
Written by Margret Aldrich, a writer for the UTNE reader

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101 comments

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10:40AM PDT on Jul 3, 2011

thanks

1:34AM PDT on May 13, 2011

Well, I once heard of this woman who had kind of this "call girl" service, where her girls were "rented" for bachelor parties, modeling, date events, etc... (Sometimes a single or gay attorney or business man would need a female date for an event, so they'd get hired). Anyway, she'd take a $20/fee up front for the "rental" and then the patron had to pay the girl so much an hour (at what ever rate she charged).

The girls were always in contact via phone or something, and well, then there were male drivers to help drive these girls back and forth to their events. The owner would pay the driver from her fee, and the girl would also tip the driver too.

*IF* sex was involved, it was totally up to the girl, and she could "charge" what ever "fee" she wanted to. Of course many times, the guy would tip her on top of it too. The better ones would be requested again.

If this were the type of practice for prostitution, then the workers would be the ones who benefit most, and it's also safe.

I don't blame the sex workers. Pigs out there are willing to pay a pretty penny for fantasies to come true. Why blame the ones busting butt in the industry?

10:00AM PDT on May 10, 2011

This to me is a serious dilemna. Which might do greater harm to persons involved - "Street Pimps" or "Corporate Pimps?" It's evident to me that both want to make money - it's always at someone's expense.

11:08PM PDT on May 4, 2011

The sex pro makes a good deal of money and because it is not legal they pay no taxes. If the common sence and humanity of protecting these people,...and they are people, does not make you want to make it legal then maybe the money might.

7:13AM PDT on May 4, 2011

Here in the United States, a country which is supposed to be the freest in the world, I feel that it's high time to decriminalize prostitution (and everything else for that matter!)! Something that I understand goes on in some places in Nevada is that while prostitution is legal there, the girls are on call 24/7 and are for all intents and purposes, have the status of indentured servitude! Some of these brothels maintain rigid control over their workers and won't let them leave the premises unless it is to go to the clinic. This is as inexcusable as prohibition IMNSHO! This is why I favor decriminalization over legalization!

If the co-op doesn't involve abuses like the one I just mentioned here, I'm all in favor of it.

FTR Rhode Island from 1980 until about 2009 decriminalized prostitution similar to the way Canada did. Sadly, a few knuckle head politicians felt this had to be rescinded and so the practice was re-criminalized.

7:14AM PDT on May 3, 2011

sexworkers need to be protected like any other worker. this co op idea is great.

5:42AM PDT on May 3, 2011

Thank you for this article.

3:00AM PDT on May 3, 2011

I think women operated brothels would be the safest way to go for those who are working in this industry of either gender, because women tend to want to celebrate the sex rather than use/abuse it.

8:22PM PDT on May 2, 2011

Hope this will make it safer for all.

6:01PM PDT on May 2, 2011

Trust me on this; the sex industry is unlikely to do a worse job of monitoring its own members than the A.M.A.
has.Being well acquainted with sex workers for various reasons, these people are filling a demand, and should be allowed to do so under safe, sane and consensual
circumstances.Removing the stigma would go a long way to guanteeing such. Given, that, here, in No.America most consider themselves to be "Christian" or of other
majority monotheistic persuasions, there is likely to be no relief of that nature, the law will have to be changed first. This of course makes it a circular problem.Possibly the persuasion of addtional tax dollars will push people in the right direction, although ,as usual, for the wrong reasons.
It must also be said that in my experience, mostly in CA,I did not find most of the workers to be survivors of sexual abuse child or adult. I saw too many who simply found this a better, and in some cases, more
honorable way to earn quickly,( hey, think about being an actress and having to take that commerial even though you have doubts about the product) and even pleasurably.Yes, somesaid they enjoyed their work, and more power to them) Personally, I do not believe sex was given to higher mammals for only procreative puposes,I could also tell you not a few examples based on observation of other critters;(and some times it did seem as though some bargains were being struck) i can't say for certain, you'd have to ask them; and no,
i'm not being facet

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