Oil Sands Truth: Shut Down the Tar Sands

Edmonton: Report tackles sex trade

Wed, November 7, 2007
Report tackles sex trade
Edmonton Sun

Prostitution is a growing problem in Edmonton, fuelled by the city's red-hot economy.

That's among the findings of a new report commissioned to address the problem.

The document calls for "safe housing" for active prostitutes and for those getting out of the sex trade. It also calls for tougher penalties for johns.

"Sexual exploitation through prostitution is an escalating problem in Edmonton, one of the dark consequences of our place in Alberta's booming economy," says the 34-page document, commissioned by Safedmonton's prostitution working group, a city initiative.

JoAnn McCartney, a former cop turned prostitute counsellor, said the city's sex trade has grown over the past five years. "There's money to be spent," said McCartney, who had not seen Safedmonton's report. "The drugs are getting worse, the addictions are getting worse."

McCartney said the exact number of people working in the city's sex trade is not known.

She said more transitional housing for prostitutes and tougher penalties have been talked about for years - and are needed.

"People who are leaving behind the street and addictions, and all that kind of thing, yeah, they need a roof over their head," McCartney said. "But it's more productive if they have a place to stay where there's some kind of staff person who's able to help them stay on track."

The Safedmonton report acknowledged a number of agencies have been working on the problem, but too often find themselves in "crisis mode," responding to situations instead of getting ahead of things.

It paints a bleak picture of the current situation, where the range of Edmonton neighbourhoods where prostitutes work is rapidly expanding beyond the core.

"Sexual exploitation and street prostitution is most fearful for what it attracts - drug traffic, drug houses, theft, cruising johns, luring and stalking, contaminated needles and condoms," the document states.


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