Tonight I went to a vigil held at the Grand Parade in Halifax to show my support for the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Despite the cold that numbed more than just a few fingers and cheeks there were quite a few hardy people like myself and my bud Jennifer there to show our support for all of the women in the sex trade who have ever been abused, murdered or are still missing. Tonight we remembered that these women were not just “hookers or prostitutes.” Tonight we remembered that they are women. Human beings who deserved to live their lives until natural causes or illness came calling at their doors to take them to wherever the next step in our life cycles take us. That they did not deserve to die any sooner than they were supposed to all because of their profession. They were women who had children of their own, families of their own and that they were someones sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, and friend. Women who will never celebrate another Christmas, birthday, marriage of their child, birth of their grandchild(ren). They were women who had the right to live and that right was denied them by someone who took it upon themselves to end that life for no reason at all. 

Since 1985 in the Halifax Regional Municipality there are still 15 unsolved cases of murdered or missing women whose profession was the sex trade.In the last year alone according to our Police Chief Frank A. Beazley, O.O.M. there were 1,000 women who were reported abused last year in this city. Now out of a population of nearly 400,000 that doesn’t seem like a lot but to my way of thinking 1 is way to many. There is not a lot that we as human beings are entitled to in this world but we are entitled to life. No one has the right to take that away from any of us without our consent. No one has the right to beat, mutilate, rape, murder, terrorize or otherwise make out lives miserable. As the minister who attended the vigil tonight reminded us by quoting John 8:1-11:

And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, 4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? 6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. 7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. 8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. 9 And they who heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. 10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? 11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

Now I’m not much into organized religion for several reasons which we won’t go into here but I have to say that I have always liked this section of the bible because it so very applicable to many situations in life. One which a lot of us have forgotten or never learned. To many of us judge people by their wealth or lack of it, their profession, sexual orientation, lifestyle, etc., yet when you get right down to the foundation of each person we are no better or worse than the next. Not one of us is any better than the women who stand on a street corner, work in a brothel or advertise sex in a magazine.

To turn a blind eye to these women who are abused or murdered because of their profession is hypocritical and wrong. We as a society need to stop punishing these women for what they do and find a way to change society so that they don’t need to work in the sex trade. No one volunteers to sell their body for money because it is fun. Do you honestly think that these women want to stay in this rut putting up with the pimps and johns who treat them like dirt. I have had more than one conversation with women who were a part of the sex trade at one point in time or another in their lives. These women are beautiful people who are now working at jobs that no longer require that they sell their bodies to live. They are raising their children and taking care of their families. There is no one worrying anymore about whether or not they will be coming home after a night on the streets or if they’ve put their health on the line so that they can put food on the table and pay some bills. Hooking was not their profession of choice and they got out as quickly as they could.

This was the first time that I had ever gone to a vigil for anything and I must say that it is something that we should all do at least once in our lives. We celebrated these lives by remembering who they were, reminding those who investigate the crimes perpetuated against these women that someone cares, showing their families that someone else is there supporting them until they get the closure they need to go on living that is what we did tonight and I am proud of that. The only real point of sadness tonight was that we could not speak the names of the missing/dead because society still turns its back on these women. There families would be put out in the open for everyone to taunt, tease and otherwise scorn because their loved ones worked in a profession that is not acceptable to the prudes and ignorant in society. That is truly a shame.

“There by the grace of God go I.”