Advocates for sex workers’ and women’s rights are demanding an end to the Salvation Army “The Truth Isn’t Sexy” campaign. On September 25, 2009, the Salvation Army is asking its supporters to participate in “group prayers” where they will place mannequins in tattered white dresses stained with fake blood outside strip clubs and massage parlours. In 2008, the Salvation Army launched the campaign with a series of shocking public advertisements depicting women in situations of danger and violence.
The upcoming “weekend of prayer” will take place in cities around the world and will involve actions targeting sex workers and their workplaces. In May of this year, the Salvation Army was forced to apologize for a similar campaign in Australia.
“Through an aggressive misinformation campaign, the Salvation Army is trying to create an unwarranted panic about human trafficking in Canada,” says Katrina Pacey, Pivot lawyer and coordinator of the sex work human rights campaign. “Even one instance of human trafficking is an unacceptable tragedy but it is harmful and insulting to characterize all sex workers as trafficking victims.”
Pivot Legal Society, FIRST and other prominent sex workers’ and women’s advocacy groups have joined together to speak out against the Salvation Army and their campaign. Other coalition members include the BC Coalition of Experiential Communities, Prostitution Alternatives Counselling & Education Society, WISH Drop-In Centre, the Naked Truth, SWAN and the Sex Professionals of Canada.
“It is completely unacceptable that the Salvation Army excluded sex workers from the development of this campaign,” says Esther Shannon of FIRST. “It is widely accepted that the expertise of sex workers is critical to effective anti-trafficking campaigns. Failing to collaborate with sex workers and other key stakeholders does nothing to further the safety and rights of the women and children that are trafficked into Canada each year.”
For further information, please follow the following links to statements and reports on the reality of human trafficking in Canada:
• Rights Not Rescue: An Open Letter to the Salvation Army (FIRST)
• Facts About Trafficking in Persons And Consequences for Vancouver's Sex Workers (FIRST)
• Human Trafficking, Sex Work Safety and the 2010 Games: Assessments and Recommendations (Front Line Consulting)
• Trafficking in Persons and the 2010 Olympics (Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women)