"The Low Track" – Prostitution In Vancouver
On a bright July Sunday in Vancouver, Summer Rain, a Native Canadian survivor of prostitution, took me on a tour of the Downtown Eastside, Canada's poorest district.
Summer Rain, now in her early 30s, works for Vancouver Rape Relief and is a proud abolitionist, campaigning, along with her sisters, to end the international sex trade.
Many Aboriginal women and girls have been prostituted in the very area she is now showing me around. As we walk around, Summer Rain points to posters of missing girls and women, all Native, and all, it would appear, victims of the brutal sex trade that is allowed to flourish in the area.
The area is a dumping ground for the marginalised and unwanted. Prostituted women and children, in the main those from Native communities, go missing. Robert Pickton, a notorious serial killer of women from the streets, was convicted in 2007 of the murders of six women. He was also charged in the deaths of an additional twenty women, many of them from the Downtown Eastside.
I saw women who could barely stand, weaving in and out of traffic, desperately looking for a John in order to make the money for her heroin and crack cocaine. Summer Rain pointed to three storey high, semi condemned buildings in which the women and girls are prostituted, and told me that pimps and drug dealers will sometimes throw a woman out of the window on to the street below as punishment. "They used to shave her hair off", Summer Rain told me, "but now they do this."
The accompanying film should give you an insight into how prostituted women and girls are viewed as worthless and dispensable. Let us do something other than throw condoms and clean injecting needles at these women.
NB – The figure of "4 or 5" women thrown from the buildings is over the past recent years, not the past year.