Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Sanctuary for Victoria's Sex Workers

Magazine article Anglican Journal

A Sanctuary for Victoria's Sex Workers

Article excerpt

Marion Little, Canon Pastor to the diocese of British Columbia, has assumed the executive directorship of PEERS Victoria. This agency, established in 1995 by two former prostitutes as Prostitutes' Empowerment and Education Resource Society, is mandated to provide unconditional support for the marginalized, stigmatized, isolated and judged workers engaged in the sex trade.

"The main premise is to provide peer mentorship and unconditional care and support for sex workers exactly where they are now," says Little, who also administers the diocese's sexual misconduct policy. "Even though many workers eventually exit the trade, PEERS does not press them to that goal."

Located in a gritty industrial corner of picturesque Victoria, PEERS provides a drop-in centre, a wellness program, a medical clinic, hot lunches, job training and, best of all, the prospect of change and transformation. "We have an RV that goes out evenings to the streets," says Little. "It brings soup, coffee, clothing and toiletries to people on the 'stroll.'" Many are survival sex workers, trading their bodies for basic food and shelter, although only five to to per cent of the sex trade happens on the streets. …

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