Why do so many women struggle to exit prostitution? What help do they need? What if they have a drug habit? What is the role of counselling and therapy? Does the predominant “condoms and coffee” model of support services inadvertently work to keep women trapped? Does investment in services to help women exit prostitution make sense?

In this webinar we will hear from two women who know more than almost anyone about these themes because they have both been there themselves and have now set up projects to help other women exit the trade.

This event is free but you need to register in advance.

  • names have been changed

I know two women who were involved in prostitution, both became involved by choice. One retained her freedom, Melissa. while the other, Kourtney was taken hostage in her apartment by a pimp and trafficked.

Both women had two things in common. They needed money and were both disabled.

Melissa was funding some of her medical treatments, mainly dental work, with her earnings. She was losing all her teeth due to a rare genetic condition she inherited from her father.

Melissa could have exited if there was better health care and better dental coverage in our province. She could have also benefited from higher disability payments, better chronic pain management and more suitable housing to accommodate a wheelchair.

Kourtney had fibromyalgia but sadly also a crack addiction. She went to rehab but couldn’t stay sober living on her own, and she would have benefited from supportive housing, harm reduction as well as higher disability benefits.

Kourtney’s trafficker, I’m happy to report, was convicted of sex trafficking among other things and now has about 10 years in jail ahead of him. That has also helped her move on, knowing he will never try to track her down.

Both could have used ongoing help to manage PTSD as well. Both had PTSD before entering the prostitution. Kourtney was groomed by a woman in her subsidized housing complex, which is one reason I single out better housing as a strategy.