An advocacy group for sex-trade workers in Halifax has launched a poster campaign designed to humanize their image, as a man faces charges for allegedly brutalizing a prostitute and murdering another.
Rene Ross, executive director of Stepping Stone, said the goal is to show that sex workers are everyday people.
"They are somebody's mother, brother, daughter … and they're not just whores, tramps, hookers, which is what labels society has given them," she told CBC News.
One poster features an image of a grandmother with the caption, "I am proud of my tramp for raising two kids on her own."
In another poster, a young woman is paired with the phrase, "I'm glad my prostitute made me finish school."
Joanne, a former sex worker, hopes the captions make people reconsider how they view people who work on the streets.
"We're tired of the fact that we read headlines like, 'Hooker and a Woman Killed,'" she said.
The posters are going up on telephone poles and billboards in the Halifax area as two cases involving sex workers wind their way through the courts.
Ross said the posters are a way to show that sex workers "are not disposable."
"We know that a number of serial killers who have been caught over the years have come out and said that they targeted sex workers because they knew they could get away with it, that nobody would care about them," she said.
Murder, attempted murder charges
Steven Laffin is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Nadine Taylor, a 29-year-old Halifax woman disappeared last July.
Taylor worked as a prostitute. Her fiancé said on the night she vanished, she left her apartment to make a phone call because she didn't have a phone.
Though Taylor's body was never found, police later classified her case as a homicide. They said physical evidence and statements from witnesses led them to Laffin.
Laffin is also charged with attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, uttering threats, forcible confinement, and kidnapping in another case last August.
The woman told CBC News she was working as a prostitute when she was attacked, bound with duct tape and stuffed in a trunk.
Laffin is due in court this month to set trial dates in that case. He is expected in court again in January for a preliminary inquiry in the Taylor case.