Canada After Bedford – What Now?

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In December the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously struck down Canada’s sex work laws.

The Canadian government now has until December 2014 to choose how to reform Canada’s sex work laws.  SACHA supports the decriminalization of sex work.  Read more about our thoughts on sex work decriminalization.

It is essential that the government listens to the voices of current and former sex workers.

Until March 17th the government is running an online survey to as a form of public consultation.  Click here for the survey.

Toronto’s sex worker advocacy group, Maggie’s, has created a call to action to have more sex workers and their allies input in the consultation:

  1. Use the suggested guidelines below to craft your unique response to the consultation questions. Responses are due by March 17th. These are examples of responses — prepared for you by sex workers and allies across Canada.

  2. Submit only one response. If you need to expand or clarify something that you said in your first response, then feel free to make a follow-up submission, but make sure you indicate in the last box that you are expanding on your previous submission. IP addresses are used to track responses and you don’t want your response disqualified.

  3. Mobilize your colleagues, friends, families, individuals in organizations to fill out the consultation using these guidelines! Share these guidelines discreetly with allies and friends. Create more broad guidelines from these messages for others who you want to mobilize but may be “on the fence”. Do not post these guidelines online, rather post an invitation to be in touch with you for guidelines.

  4. If you are assisting others by transcribing their responses (for example, in a community group, during a meeting, or for people that visit your organization) be sure to state the following in the last question (which asks whether you a member of a group):

      1. State whose submission it is (in other words, the person you are assisting): I am a (community member, sex worker in X city, member of X organization, ally etc).

      2. State whether that person received assistance: I required assistance with the online submission process so another individual transcribed and submitted my answers on my behalf.

      3. State whether you borrowed someone else’s computer: I used a computer at XX organization, which may have been used by others to participate in this online consultation,

  5. Copy your own unique responses to the consultation and post them on your blogs, Facebook, and websites – they act as great educational tools!

    Important: Create a PDF or copy of your response – send one copy to your Member of Parliament (to find your MP, go here: http://www.bit.ly/1cuJOxO) and one copy to the person or group who sent you this Call to Action! We are trying to keep track of how many people respond and what they said.

Maggie’s Sex Workers’ Community Consultation and Advocacy Project is also hosting an event – “Our Bodies, Our Work, Our Say” – Friday, February 28th for current and former sex workers.  From their website:

SWCCAP’s mission is to center the voices of sex workers within the policy and law-making process in order to promote decriminalization as well as bring to the forefront the needs and desires of sex workers. By bringing sex workers to the table, we are working to challenge and change the dominant legal and political structures that impact our lives and our work.

Pivot Legal has been advocating to change sex work laws in Canada:

Pivot Legal is also encouraging sex workers and their allies to get involved and give input:

Criminalizing the purchase of sexual services is ineffective and harmful because it drives the industry underground where sex workers experience increased violence and decreased access to police and support services. Instead of targeting adults who are purchasing sex, police should focus on supporting sex workers’ safety through the enforcement of laws that prohibit violence and abuse (such as assault, harassment and threatening).

One idea that is on the table is for Canada to adopt a nordic model of sex work laws that criminalize people who are buying sex but not sex workers.

Both feminist and sex workers have serious concerns about the nordic model.  From The London School of Economics and Political Science:

These countries’ laws prohibiting the purchase of sex are often depicted as ways to redistribute the guilt and shame of prostitution from the seller to the buyer of sex. However, this was by no means the only argument for their introduction. Contrary to many common feminist appraisals, these laws do not in fact send a clear message as to what and who is the problem with prostitution; on the contrary, they are often implemented in ways that produce negative outcomes for people in prostitution.

SACHA Vists Zonta Club of Hamilton 1

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This week SACHA had the opportunity to visit one of Hamilton’s Zonta clubs.

Zonta SACHAWe had a good chat about SACHA services, male allies working to end violence, Hamilton’s Sanctuary City Coalition, working with grade nines, bystander intervention and using social media for social change.

Folks were quite interested in Jackson Katz work with the Mentors in Violence Prevention.  Check out Jackon’s TED Talk on why violence against women is a men’s issue:

Zonta Club of Hamilton 1 generously supports SACHA work to end violence in our community.  We truly appreciate their support.

Find our more about Zonta’s work to advance the status of women worldwide.

 

Sgt. Derek Mellor Pleads Guilty to Sexual Misconduct Charges

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Yesterday at a hearing at Hamilton Police Services Derek Mellor plead guilty to many charges of sexual misconduct.

At the hearing through a statement of fact more details about the inappropriate sexual behaviour with witnesses or victims in human trafficking investigations were described:

Mellor admitted to undertaking a sexual relationship with the mother of a woman whose human trafficking case he was working on. He admitted to engaging in sexual activity with her on the side of a rural road, sending her pictures of his penis and a three-second video of him masturbating.

Over that period of time, the woman sent Mellor a number of photos of her in lingerie, and her profile from a website that advertises discreet relationships between married couples.

Mellor also pleaded guilty to sending sexual photos and texts to two women who worked with the human trafficking volunteer organization “Walk With Me.” In both cases, he obtained their contacts through working together and at social gatherings and fundraisers for sex workers. The messages started as flirtatious before escalating to blatantly sexual, according to police act documents.

There are more details in the CBC Hamilton article.

There will be a hearing at Hamilton Police on King William Street on Monday, April 24 at 10am which Mellor will be sentenced.

A Hamilton community member has created a petition asking for Mellor dismissal from Hamilton Police.

2014 International Women’s Day Events

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There is a lot going on this year for International Women’s Day!

A Promise is a Promise – Time for Action to End Violence Against Women

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When: Thursday, March 6th from 10am until 3pm
Where: YWCA – 75 MacNab Street South, Hamilton

The International Women’s Day Committee, coordinated by SACHA, invites women in Hamilton and area to participate in the celebration of International Women’s Day.

Lunch and child minding will be provided.

For more information or to request ASL interpretation please contact Sandra at 905.525.4573 or sandra@sacha.ca.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/592109894211285/?notif_t=plan_user_joined
Website: http://sacha.ca/eventsFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/592109894211285/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Rock Our Souls – International Women’s Day Celebration

Poster by Evan Do

Poster by Evan Do

When: Friday, March 7th from 6:30pm until 9:30pm
Where: Bridges Cafe at McMaster University, Hamilton
Presented by: United in Colour

Join us at Bridges Cafe at McMaster University for a night of artistic expression as we come together to celebrate the ways which women and trans women of colour resist violence in their communities. Tickets are pay what you can and can be purchased through Eventbrite. All proceeds will be donated to SACHA (Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton Area).

We are still looking for performers and art submissions!!! Please find the links below for the form and call for submissions and send your completed forms to palmeal2@mcmaster.ca

Form:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/68oah9vr4uaucvm/Rock%20our%20Souls%20Art%20Submission%20Form%20.docx

Call for Submissions Poster/Theme Info:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/2c1151bscjj60ks/RMS%20Call%20for%20Submissions%20Poster-page1.jpg

This event is brought to you by: Anti Oppressive Education Committee, MUSSWSA, Disability Action Committee, Social Work Queer Trans, and United in Colour.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/211164929084450/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

Empowerment of Women and Post-Conflict Resolution

Who: Senator, Lieutenant-General (retired) Roméo Dallaire, hosted by Zonta Club of Hamilton II

What: Dinner, speech and book-signing (Shake Hands with the Devil and They Fight Like Soldiers; They Die Like Children — The Global Quest to Eradicate the Use of Child Soldiers)

When: Friday, March 7; book signing 6:15 to 6:45 p.m., dinner and speech from 7 to 9:15 p.m.

Where: Carmen’s, 1520 Stone Church Rd. E., Hamilton

Tickets: $100, including wine at the table. Call the box office at 905-387-0007.

Hamilton Spectator article: http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4378225-mahoney-friendship-has-dallaire-coming-to-hamilton/

International Women’s Day – Celebrating Women’s Achievements

IWD2014

When: Saturday, March 8th at 2pm
Where: Delta United Church – 47 Ottawa Street South, Hamilton

A warm invitation is extended to all to attend a mid-afternoon event of art, discussion and music.

Special guests include:

María Eugenia Lemus Valenzuela
Feminist, teacher, mother, grandmother, and an activist in the women’s movement in Guatemala since 1980. Co-founder of the Tierra Viva Women’s Organization, she developed educational programs with Gua-temalan women of different ethnicities on Human Rights, in particular Sexual and Reproductive Rights.

Sandy Shaw
Author of the inaugural Women and Poverty report for Hamilton and developing a micro-lending program aimed at providing small entrepre-neur loans to local women. Sandy has served on many governance boards and was elected the first-ever female Board Chair for FirstOn-tario Credit Union. Sandy is presently the only female candidate for City Councillor in Ward 1. However, Sandy will tell you that her greatest ac-complishment is being a proud mom of two and grandmom to two young busy boys.

Roxane Tracey
This incredibly talented Toronto artist will return to Hamilton again with her display of wearable art. Roxane works locally and internationally to inspire youth to express their emotions and communicate their experiences in a creative manner.

RSVP: Juanita Maldonado at 289.440.1623

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/226714584183418/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

A Night of Celebration and Inspiration – Illuminessence’s Awards Gala

Gala-invitation-FINAL-web2When: Saturday, March 8th at 6pm
Where:
Homewood Suites by Hilton – 40 Bay Street South, Hamilton

Tickets: $65 at EventBrite or by calling 289.689.2358

Special Guests: Hon. Jean Augustine, Hon. Andrea Horwath, Major Bob Bratina & Carol Bratina

Awards Emcees:  Zakiya Toby — Founder, PurpleRedPR, Martinus Geleynse — Creative Director, MGi Media

Red Carpet Emcees: Sherry Mousavi — Writer, Illuminessence & Chair, Hamilton Media GuildRoger Brown III — Manager, Commercial Real Estate Lending Scotiabank & 2013 Hamilton HIVE Treasurer

Live entertainment by: DJ Jan, Ms. Paige, Freedom Studios, Salsa Soul Productions

SACHA Broadcast — Feminist Links and Hijinks No. 28

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A whole bunch of feminist links this week!

It was Audre Lorde’s birthday last week.  Find out more about her all round general awesomeness here.

audre lorde————————–

Great opinion piece in Tuesday’s Hamilton Spectator about the myths of the ‘bogus’ refugee claimants in Canada:

Myth: All failed refugees are fraudsters looking to cheat our system.

Reality: Claims for refugee status fail for many reasons. Sometimes claims are made on the basis of real suffering that simply does not meet the strict definition for refugee status. Additionally, the new shortened timelines of the refugee claims process make it challenging for many to make a substantiated claim.

Despite a failed claim, some refugee claimants will not be removed from Canada if an officer decides there is still a risk of persecution. This demonstrates Canada’s acknowledgment that a ‘failed’ claim is not always the last word. While there are some who will be returned to their countries of origin, labelling all claimants as ‘bogus’ or fraudulent criminalizes those who are innocent in their journey to seek protection.

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Photo by Khristina

Photo by Khristina

Two years ago Montreal ‘zinester Amber Dearest wrote a blog post about folks who are not cis white guys daring to take up space at the front of a punk show and how it lead to them being banned from that space:

Tall dude tried to talk to me. He said, “This is a punk show, not a war.” Funny that – when we take up space, it is seen as a declaration of war, yet when men do the exact same thing, it’s just a punk show.

Just this week Amber went to a friend’s show at the same space and read her blog post from two years ago.  I highly suggest you read the entire post:

I had the mic and was louder than everyone else, and my friends kept cheering me on. I was reading with a huge smile on my face, and being continuously heckled by only three people.

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wawg_logo_webPrimaryThe Woman Abuse Working Group is a coalition of over twenty agencies in Hamilton working to end gender based violence.  WAWG just launched a new website on Friday and you should check it out!

— compiled by erin

Hamilton Human Trafficking Detective Accused of Sexual Misconduct

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A round up of articles about Derek Mellor, a sergeant with the Hamilton Police Services, who is accused of multiple sexual misconduct charges under the Police Services Act.

Mellor’s hearing is on Monday, February 24th at 9am at the Hamilton Police station on King William Street.  The public is able to attend the hearing.

From CBC Hamilton’s June 19, 2013 article:

A Hamilton police sergeant who led the service’s human trafficking unit is facing multiple sexual misconduct charges, which have been laid under the provincial Police Services Act.

Sgt. Derek Mellor, a 14-year veteran with the Hamilton police, is alleged to have engaged in, or attempted to engage in, sexual activity with various witnesses, potential witnesses and other individuals involved in his investigations.

Mellor is also alleged to have sent photographs and videos of a sexual nature to victims’ services workers whom he met while working as a human trafficking investigator.

Documents provided to the CBC state that Mellor used his “character and position as a member of the Hamilton Police Service for private advantage.”

Mellor has been suspended since late last year, when the allegations surfaced.

In total, Mellor is accused of nine counts of discreditable conduct, one count of insubordination and one count of corrupt practice for incidents that are alleged to have occurred between May 2011 and November 2012.

Two of the counts allege Mellor engaged in an inappropriate sexual relationship with a witness or potential witness.

From The Hamilton Spectator on January 10, 2013:

A 19-year-old former sex worker who is a witness in a human trafficking case has accused the lead Hamilton police investigator of an inappropriate sexual relationship with her. Those allegations have led to an ongoing internal investigation and fears among advocates that criminal cases may now be tainted.

CHCH TV’s coverage from June 19, 2013:

The charges he is facing range from two counts of engaging in sexual activity with women who were potential witnesses, charges of sending pictures and a video of a sexual nature to those same witnesses and members of victim services; also having an inappropriate relationship with a human trafficking investigator.

From The Hamilton Spectator’s February 10, 2013 article:

Mellor was facing nine charges of discreditable conduct and one count each of insubordination and corrupt practices. Eight of those charges revolve around sexual activity with witnesses, attempting relations with a potential witness and sending sexual material to witnesses. The former vice and drugs officer had pioneered a much-publicized human trafficking unit pilot project, paid for by a provincial grant. The unit was not continued past its pilot stage.

According to documents filed with the hearing officer, Mellor now faces an additional pair of insubordination charges over allegations he failed to file supporting paperwork (reports, notes and a brief for the Crown prosecutor) in relation to two arrests he made in May and June of 2011. The effect those alleged failures had on the cases involved is not publicly known at this point.

In a further twist, Visentini asked that the two new charges be “adjourned sine die” — suspended — saying a decision on proceeding with those charges would be made following the disposition of the first 11 charges laid against Mellor.

From The Hamilton Spectator’s  February 14th, article community activists organized a rally and march in Hamilton:

“I want to stand behind the women that I think police take advantage of. I think the police abuse their authority,” said Debroah James, 40. “There’s an imbalance of power in the relationship between police and marginalized women.”

James works with a local agency that helps sex trade workers. She says some of these women are more afraid of the police than they are of johns, and therefore avoid going to them when they need help.

No one in the crowd would identify themselves as an organizer of the event, and the woman who started the rally wouldn’t give her name. She said she was afraid of the police and is employed — and some agencies are not comfortable with employees who speak out against police.

Signs in the crowd read “Strip searches = sexual violence,” “Who do you serve, who do you protect” and “This is a culture, stop police sexual violence.”

Supporters marched down Main Street in the two right lanes alongside traffic. Mounted police and members of the Action Team followed them along their route to the police station on King William Street to maintain a peaceful protest while people chanted and handed out pamphlets.

On behalf of Chief Glen De Caire, Hamilton police spokesperson Catherine Martin emailed a statement that said “we respect the right for a peaceful demonstration.”

She wouldn’t comment on Mellor or any matter before the Police Services Act Tribunal, but did say in any case of serious misconduct, the position of the administration has been consistent in seeking dismissal.

— compiled by erin