I came across an article in the online Metro Halifax of Nova Scotia, Canada, about a vigil to be held for sex workers. The article, by Aly Thomson, said that the vigil is to commemorate “lost sex-trade workers.” The organizer of the event said that usually these events are private, but in light of the escalating violence against “women in the trade” this vigil is going public.
On December 17, 2010, family, friends and advocates will gather in Grand Parade Square to mark the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers.
Rene Ross is the director of Stepping Stone, a Halifax organization that acts on behalf of sex trade workers. She said that this vigil is the first of its kind in Nova Scotia and that it is a way of bringing out into the open a dire situation.
“We wanted to come together and send a message to the community that sex-trade workers are people too and they’re our mothers, daughters and friends.” Ross said. “As violence continues to escalate, and the stigma remains, we want to come out…and show everybody that sex workers are people who are deserving of the same rights.”
People who attend the vigil are asked by Stepping Stone to bring a red umbrella, which is a symbol of “resistance to discrimination and the resilience of sex workers and their advocates.” This symbolic red umbrella first made its appearance in Venice, Italy, in 2000.
The Metro Halifax provides an example of this sex trade violence. Twenty-nine- year-old Nadine Taylor was reported missing July 31, 2010, and in September the local police announced that they were treating the case as a homicide. Taylor’s body was never found.
Too often violence against sex workers is not taken seriously, and not given the same sort of police investigation which another type of citizen might expect. Women sex workers are particularly vulnerable to injury and to murder. Yes, they engage in a risky business, but that does not mean that they should be preyed upon because they aren’t in the upper echelons of society. Sex workers are human beings like you and me, and should be treated as such, and not like disposable objects.