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SWAN Vancouver- Supporting Immigrant and Migrant Women in the Sex Industry

Sex Work Activism in Canada

SWAN contributed a chapter to the book, Sex Work Activism in Canada.

The chapter provides a glimpse into a week in the life of SWAN.


Chapter excerpt:

“‘Wait and see’: a woman who has just moved to Canada to work contacts us with very complex needs. Being new to the country, she does not yet have access to the supports and networks im/migrant women working in the sex industry have already created. As is often the case, her situation does not fit the clear-cut narratives that we often hear in the media – hers is not a simple case of either exploitation or empowerment. We want to ensure that she is not criminalized or victimized in the process of receiving support. Elements of her situation could signify the need for ‘rescue’ to some, but we want to respect her agency while still openly communicating with her about how she might increase her safety. We feel a tug between being poised to act or intervene but recognizing that the most productive approach is a patient one.”

“In reflecting on the work SWAN has done in the last fifteen years, we see just how much can be accomplished – even without reliable funding – by strong, determined and resourceful women dedicated to the sex worker’s rights movement. While our perspectives have evolved overtime, our main priority continues to be about providing direct services to im/migrant women working in the sex industry. However, as sex work and human trafficking becoming increasingly politicized, systemic advocacy has become a necessity in order for us to adequately support the needs of immigrant, migrant and newcomer women engaged in sex work.”

Written by Kimberly MacKenzie and Julie Ham.


Book description:

Serving as history as well as a rare and valuable reference, Sex Work Activism in Canada brings together the narratives, histories, expertise, and teachings of sex work activists across the country. Through texts and testimonials from the grass-roots level, it explores the past and present work of sex work activists and advocates in our own words.