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dimanche 26 novembre 2006

Answer to Irene Demczuk - "Some precisions"
Prostitution : Justify the Injustifiable ?

par Élaine Audet

Écrits d'Élaine Audet

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What if UQAM took a Stand Against Prostitution ?
Stella/UQAM’s "course" to be classified as propaganda
Prostitution - How to show solidarity without denying oneself
Prostitution and lesbianism have opposite logic
Is UQAM an Accomplice to the Sex Industry ?

My answer is inserted in Irene Demczuk’s message posted on NetFemmes, following a debate on a text sent by Ana Popovic from Laval Women Center : Is UQAM an accomplice to the sex industry ?.

I. Demczuk - In response to a statement this grossly mistaken and unfounded, I would like to provide some information and clarify the role of UQAM’s Community Service in this project.

 Unlike you, I only saw, in Ana Popovic’s message, respect, compassion and solidarity with those who are trapped in prostitution.

I. Demczuk : The mission of UQAM’s Community Service is to encourage the democratization of knowledge by making knowledge accessible by means of training, research and presentation activities aimed at social groups who do not usually have access to it.

 By education them to accept sexual slavery and commercialization of women’s and children’s bodies in the actual climate of dominant economical logic ?

I. Demczuk : Because sex workers are particularly stigmatized women, the training aims to reach the following goals...

 Where is it written that this formation aims to help prostituted women get free of this slavery ? Where is there a denunciation of the pimps, street gangs, traficants, drugs dealers, bars’ owners, pashas of the organized crime who are ruining so many women and youths’ life ?

I. Demczuk : The training is provided in a co-teaching model by Maria Nengeh Mensah and a Stella employee, Cynthia Lee. It is aimed at a diverse public from community groups, women’s groups, the social and health services network, and police services.

 Why ? So that these groups tolerate prostitution by letting the so-called exclusive knowledge of prostituted women to a minority group like Stella, while the majority of persons concerned shut up by fear of reprisals or death and that persons and groups who try to help them liberate from prostitution are accused of stigmatizing them ? What avenues of solutions are you proposing ? To legitimate pimps and johns (prostituers) in order to perpetuate the "sex industry" ? Justify the unjustifiable ? Accept the unacceptable ?

I. Demczuk : The primary criteria for attendance was the fact of being a sex worker or working in an organization representing sex workers. In fact, 75% of the inscription were reserved for these individuals, with 25% going to experts and representatives of organizations that share a human rights perspective on sex work.

 How could promoting and banalizing prostitution be considered in a human rights perspective ? What you are proning reinforces sexual relations of domination which are inherent to patriarchy, what still is feminist in this defence of the statu quo that profits for ages to the masculine supremacy and the subordination of women ?

I. Demczuk : Unlike Ms. Popovic, I had the chance to attend the Forum...

 You were admitted because you filled the conditions by agreeing to promote sex industry to the detriment of all women and youths who loose they life being prostituted, unlike Ms. Popovic who was not welcome in such a celebration of oppression.

I. Demczuk : I would like to point out that, contrary to what has been said on netfemmes and par-l in 2005 and since, that the Forum aimed to reinforce sex workers’ abilities and help them share their expertise.

 Is it the role of an university to offer its premises to the diffusion of such "abilities" and "expertise" which undermine so evidently the dignity and integrity-of women ?

I. Demczuk : As to the $270,000 grant awarded to the project by the Public Health Agency of Canada, it was obtained in full compliance with standard regulations...

 This grant was rather a big manna attributed to those who favour the lucrative human marketting.

I. Demczuk : a project lasting almost two years, not four days as Anna Popovic’s letter implies.

 She was of course speaking about the duration of the Forum, a duration that very few groups are able nowadays to finance !

I. Demczuk : Personally, I have never understood why the feminist movement has made such a big deal out of the attendance criteria for the Forum, which aimed to encourage discussion about the experience of stigmatization in various social and legal contexts, as well as about working, living and health conditions, from a perspective of empowerment.

 What is so empowering in subjecting oneself to the power games of the first man to come, to perform fellatio the whole day long to earn a few lines of coke and to start again the next day while giving most of the money received to a pimp or a drug dealer ?

I. Demczuk : Would the same objections have been raised if lesbians, social assistance recipients, or any other category of marginalized women had decided to organize an event to help bring their peers together, to speak for themselves, to develop an analysis of their situation and areas for future action ?

 Don’t you see the difference between oppression and liberation ?

I. Demczuk : I also saw the worst : I was faced with the pressure placed on UQAM to cancel the event, and as logistics coordinator, I had to deal with the acts of vandalism committed on the Forum’s posters and materials by a handful of people who call themselves feminists.

 The worst for me is the reality lived by prostituted persons and all that contributes to the perpetuation of the masculine domination on the life and sexuality of women.

I. Demczuk : I want to congratulate them for their determined work towards education and the defense of human rights, which recently earned them an award from Human Rights Watch and the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

 [...] Nothing very surprising about this award, the objectives of the Canadian VIH/AIDS Legal Network are the same as Stella’s and the sex industry, that is to say the decriminalization, not only of prostituted persons but of pimps and johns (prostituers).

The Canadian VIH/AIDS Legal Network, a community group, formulates ten recommendations in favour of the total decriminalization of prostitution. The research lasting over two years was able to be realized due to the financing obtained from the Public Health Agency of Canada. The Legal Network says it took its data out of "sex workers and employees’ the testimonies" as well as in "reliable researches". In reality, it consulted only data supplied by groups, researchers and academics who legitimize "sex work" and suggest its decriminalization or regularization. Thus, it could only reach the same conclusions as its sources.

[ ... ] This research is not interested in the majority of prostituted women’s needs. It does not either mention positions expressed publicly by some groups helping women and youths to leave "sex work ", such as Quebec Intervention Project on Prostitution (PIPQ), the Canadian Association of Sexual Assault Centers, among which the CALACS in Quebec, the CASAC in British Columbia and Yukon, or the groups working with prostituted women and survivors in Toronto and in other Canadian cities.

Read the whole text here.

On Sisyphe, November 26, 2006.

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Élaine Audet

Élaine Audet a publié, au Québec et en Europe, des recueils de poésie et des essais, et elle a collaboré à plusieurs ouvrages collectifs. Depuis 2002, elle est l’une des deux éditrices de Sisyphe.
Ses plus récentes publications sont :
 Prostitution - perspectives féministes, (éditions Sisyphe, 2005).
 La plénitude et la limite, poésie, (éditions Sisyphe, 2006).
 Prostitution, Feminist Perspectives, (éditions Sisyphe, 2009).
 Sel et sang de la mémoire, Polytechnique, 6 décembre 1989, poésie, (éditions Sisyphe, 2009).
 L’épreuve du coeur, poésie, (papier & pdf num., éditions Sisyphe, 2014).
 Au fil de l’impossible, poésie, pdf num., (éditions Sisyphe, 2015).
 Tutoyer l’infini, poésie,pdf num., 2017.
 Le temps suspendu, pdf num., 2019.

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