Vancouver sex workers to get media training prior to Winter Olympics
Vancouver sex trade workers need to know their rights when dealing with cameras and reporters and will be offered media training leading up to the 2010 Olympic Games, an advocacy group said.
The Prostitution Alternatives Counselling and Education Society (PACE) will hold the session in November.
"We just want our members to feel safe in the neighbourhood in which they live and safe to work in the neighbourhood in which they live," spokeswoman Kerry Porth said.
"We find sometimes that media attention to the area can be a little less than compassionate, and we don't want them to feel like animals in a zoo during that time."
The PACE training session will touch on issues like public photography and interview consent.
"We just want [the sex trade workers] to be aware of what their rights are around media, including the fact that it is legal for [media] to take a picture of them on a public street," Porth said. "And if they do consent to an interview, they can get the questions ahead of time. Things like that."
The society is situated in Vancouver's distressed Downtown Eastside neighbourhood and held a similar training session at the onset of the Robert Pickton trial. Pickton was convicted on six counts of second-degree murder in December 2007.
Sue Davis, a Vancouver sex worker who has rallied for a sex trade co-op, said the trial was a particularly difficult time for those who live and work in the neighbourhood, and it was made that much worse by the influx of media.
"Some workers reported up to nine reporters a day trying to film them," she said.
"And people asking them things like, 'Do you feel safe? Did your friends die? Are you on drugs?' And then, 'Thanks for the story, see you later.' "
No one deserves that kind of humiliation, Davis added.
Porth said the response from those who received the training at the time was positive, and Davis said she sees no reason why it can't be just as positive this time around.
"Inform people of their rights so that if they're uncomfortable with the questions or the aggressiveness of a reporter, they can just walk away," Davis said.