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Vancouver prostitution Mia Bella is quite comfortable with the work she does. Other people are less so. She's a prostitute. Mia Bella is quite comfortable with the work she does.

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One time last summer, she explains, she was out picking up some groceries at the Save-On-Foods near her home in Victoria when a friendly older woman at the produce counter asked why she needed so many blueberries. As Bella shared her favourite recipe for blueberry oatmeal, the two got talking. The woman asked what she did for a living. Bella not her real name says she first did sex work four years ago because she wanted to go on a two-month fishing trip in Fiji.

She needed the cash to advance her rent, and a girlfriend suggested they do a few jobs at a body rub parlour. Bella, on the other hand, loved it, and today the year-old works as an independent escort. Those kinds of things are so rewarding. It is not of successful, self-assured entrepreneurs like Bella, and that bothers her.

However, prostitution in Canada is far from a legitimate business, despite the fact the practice is technically legal. A bewildering mix of rules is in place to restrict it, making it almost impossible to run a legal business involving sexual contact. So prostitution is an outcast industry — hidden in dark alleys, hushed apartments, anonymous hotels, and small businesses with no windows.

Bella is one of many B. Historically, keeping the sex industry out of sight was relatively easy, with authorities and residents chasing outside sex workers from one neighbourhood to another. The Downtown Eastside has long been the exception: sex workers have had a near-constant home there since the birth of the city over years ago. History indicates they may not be. If the same sort of thing happens in the Downtown Eastside, where will the trade go next? That question worries Patricia Barnes, director of the neighbouring Hastings North Business Improvement Association BIAwhose territory covers the commercial strip along Hastings Street east of Commercial Drive Beautiful looking sex Vancouver well as a swath of light industry stretching south from the Vancouver port.

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She was hired in — almost 20 years after the first name was included on a list of more than 60 women to go missing from the Downtown Eastside. The industrial area Barnes represents has long been host to street-level prostitution — a result, she says, of a city-sanctioned strategy to get sex workers away from residential neighbourhoods.

She describes used needles and condoms in the alleys, homeless people sleeping in doorways and acts of public violence. Business owners have complained over the years about the safety of their late- and early-shift employees, and about the impression the neighbourhood leaves with suppliers and clients. For Barnes the problem became acute inwhen the of sex workers in the industrial lands suddenly spiked. Violence and drug use increased, and johns circled the streets constantly; soon, says Barnes, members were calling the BIA office, demanding to know why the problem was getting worse. Turns out Vancouver police had recently carried out a vice operation on a sex-worker stroll on Kingsway around Knight Street, pushing them out of the area.

The women moved into Strathcona and Hastings North in search of new places to work. It left Barnes with a dilemma. When police enforce anti-prostitution laws in one area, sex workers simply relocate, she explains — and when residents of the next area complain to the police, it can often get pushed right back to where it started. Now it was her turn to choose. Would she lobby to have the sex workers pushed out yet again, or would she try something different?

Curiously, despite all the attention street-level sex workers get, experts estimate only 10 to 15 per cent of the sex industry in B. The City of Vancouver offers two business licences that appear deed to facilitate prostitution: escort agencies and body rub parlours. Also prohibited: communicating for the purpose of prostitution in a public place. The communicating law, she says, is particularly galling. When a client pulls up to the side of the road to pick up a sex worker, that sex worker can be arrested Beautiful looking sex Vancouver speaking to him about any kind of transaction involving sex and money — unless she steps into the car first, since the car is legally not a public place.

A parliamentary subcommittee examining these laws was not able to agree on much, but did conclude the status quo was unacceptable. This government condemns any conduct that in exploitation Beautiful looking sex Vancouver abuse, and accordingly does not support any reforms, such as decriminalization, that would facilitate such exploitation. Commodification and exploitation of women is never acceptable. Such responses by politicians are typical, according to SFU criminology professor John Lowman, an expert on prostitution law in Canada.

In an analysis of the prostitution laws he wrote for the subcommittee, he noted that politicians often say they want to protect women from exploitation, and yet only the street-level sex trade is routinely policed — the part that causes a public nuisance. While politicians denounce prostitution, Lowman writes, they have not made it illegal, and if it is, indeed, legal, they should be saying how it is to be carried out.

The price of this doublespeak, he warns, is that politicians are reluctant to address the Beautiful looking sex Vancouver problems related to sex work, much less propose solutions, for fear of appearing to support the practice. More pointedly, he argues the communicating law played a pivotal role in creating the environment in which the murders of the Downtown Eastside women could occur. They would stop pushing the sex trade back and forth and try to find other solutions. So they talked for six months inbringing together business owners, community leaders, police and sex workers to try to find a better answer.

It was a painful and difficult process, Barnes says, as sex workers shared their experiences with police officers who had arrested them and business owners who had spat on them. The selling of sex is a global concern, and each country has its own way of dealing with it. New Zealand, for example, passed the Prostitution Reform Act in June to decriminalize and regulate prostitution.

Sweden, on the other hand, criminalized the buying of sexual acts in through their Sex Purchase Law, although it remains legal to sell sex; the thinking there is that prostitution is never a voluntary act. In Japan, meanwhile, organized prostitution has been illegal since — though liberal interpretations of the law have resulted in a flourishing sex trade. Most notably, the definition of what constitutes prostitution is restricted to sexual intercourse in Japan, making the sale of sexual favours such as oral sex perfectly legal.

The effort, dubbed Living in Community and funded through the City of Vancouver, set out to explore how the sex industry and the surrounding community affected each other, and to find ways to improve the harmful conditions that had developed.

In the group produced a report concluding that many things had to happen to combat the survival sex trade, including long-term support for housing, drug treatment and skill development; secure funding for existing social services dedicated to sex workers; and an education curriculum to fight sexual exploitation and sex-work recruitment. Davis has been a sex worker for 22 years and acts as an organizer and spokesperson for the B. Coalition of Experiential Communities.

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Last December coalition members announced their intentions to build a brothel in east Vancouver as part of a broader plan to form a sex-worker co-op. The idea gets more complex as Davis goes on, though. The wrinkle in the plan, of course, is that such a site would be illegal, clearly violating the law against operating a bawdy house.

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And opposition is not just restricted to conservative politicians. The end goal of such a law, she says, is to abolish prostitution entirely. Mia Bella hopes legal changes in Canada can encourage a growing acceptance of the sex industry, but she concedes it will take generations before being a sex worker is seen as no different than being, say, a postal worker — if it ever is. Sex work is, ultimately, a business unlike any other: one fraught not just with complicated legal and political obstacles, but enduring moral opposition.

Peter Severinson. Share Tweet Share Pin. Audio: Vancouver prostitutes plan for Sex around the world The selling of sex is a global concern, and each country has its own way of dealing with it. Stay informed with BCBusiness. Daily updates on what's happening in BC's business world.

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