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Letter: New West should be commended for promoting sex worker safety

This letter writer, who's also a criminology professor, believes New Westminster's goal to show dignity for sex workers should serve as an example for other cities.
New Westminster City Hall
New Westminster should be commended for looking at improved safety measures for sex workers, this letter writer claims.

The Editor:

Re: New West takes action to secure safety of sex workers (Nov. 28, 2023)

New Westminster is to be commended for its decision to work collaboratively to improve the safety of sex workers in the city.

Crucial in the New Westminster approach is working with people with lived experience and with well-regarded, and longstanding, community groups like the PACE Society.

That 50 per cent of the working group was made up of people with lived or living experience is exemplary.

It is an important step, and one that should serve as a guide for other cities.

And such an example is clearly needed given that some cities, like Richmnond, are contemplating how to use bylaws to shut down massage businesses.

That is a backward step and one that makes things more punitive and dangerous for sex workers.

Well established criminological and health research show that prohibition and criminalization leave sex workers vulnerable, operating in unsafe shadow conditions, while also dissuading them from accessing necessary services for fear of legal consequences.

This is about health, safety, dignity, and rights (human and labour).

Kudos to the city for taking this on with such seriousness and commitment.

- Dr. Jeff Shantz, Department of Criminology

Kwantlen Polytechnic University