Sex worker advocates in Vancouver are condemning this weekend’s planned anti-sex trafficking campaign by the Salvation Army, saying it stigmatizes all sex workers as victims of trafficking.
The Salvation Army has held the Weekend of Prayer for the past three years to raise awareness of human sex trafficking.
This year, it is focusing on the Vancouver 2010 Olympics through a campaign titled: More Precious Than Silver.
The Army is predicting a spike in the number of women and children that will be brought into Vancouver to work as sex slaves during the Games.
Katrina Pacey, a lawyer with Pivot Legal, said there is no evidence that mega-events, like the Olympics, lead to an increase in human trafficking.
Further, she said, the Army’s Weekend of Prayer paints all sex workers as trafficking victims and doesn’t draw the distinction that some people may have chosen to do it.
“It is inappropriate to think that sex workers want to be saved by the Salvation Army,” Pacey said. “If they really want to know what sex workers need, they should have asked them.”
The Salvation Army was called several times Thursday, but had not commented by press time.
The Army’s website suggests six ideas to help Salvationists commemorate the weekend, including a prayer breakfast to celebrate “men of honour” and a prayer walk outside strip clubs or massage parlours.
One of the proposed displays uses a mannequin in a ripped dress, painted to look bloody.
Pacey called the possible display “harmful, insulting and totally inappropriate.”