OPSEU Provincial Women's Committee

PWC marks International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers


Every December 17, sex workers, advocates, friends, families and allies observe International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers. The day calls attention to hate crimes against sex workers worldwide. It advocates removing the social stigma and discrimination that contribute to violence against sex workers.

The red umbrella is the internationally recognized symbol of sex workers’ solidarity and resistance.

Today, OPSEU’s Provincial Women’s Committee (PWC) demands that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and the Liberal government repeal Bill C-36, the erroneously named the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act.

The legislation was enacted by the previous Conservative government. This was in response to the three key provisions of the Criminal Code that the Supreme Court struck down on December 20, 2014, in the landmark case Bedford v. Canada.

The PWC also calls for the federal government to fully decriminalize sex work to ensure the safety, dignity and security of all sex workers, and to recognize that enforcement disproportionately targets black, indigenous, migrant and trans women, and street-based sex workers.

Please download a sample letter to Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould demanding that sex work be decriminalized.

The PWC stands in solidarity with sex workers in calling for:

  • the repeal of Bill C-36 and the full decriminalization of sex work in Canada
  • legal and labour rights for sex workers
  • provincial and municipal non-enforcement of C-36
  • the de-stigmatization of sex work
  • the recognition of the dignity and value of sex workers

The PWC also invites you to honour International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers by attending events in your region:

SWAN Kitchener die-in to recognize International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Thursday, December 17, 12:45 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
Carl Zehr Square, 200 King Street West, Kitchener

At exactly 1 p.m. in front of Kitchener City Hall, demonstrators will fall to the ground, as if dead, to remember those who have been taken from us. It is our hope that a disruption of normal pedestrian activities will get passers-by to notice and draw attention to this issue.

SWAN is an intersectional feminist group. As such, we would like to extend an invitation to ALL members of the tri-cities to come out and support the die-in.

If you would like more information about how you can become involved, please email SWAN.

Maggie’s Toronto celebrates the strength and resilience of sex workers
Thursday, December 17, 7:30 p.m. (doors open), 8 p.m. (party starts)
United Steelworkers Hall, 25 Cecil Street, Toronto

Performances, speakers, an awesome raffle and a dance party start around 10 p.m. Proceeds will go to support justice for sex workers.

Guelph: SWAG action with red umbrella display, cookies and information
Thursday, December 17, 11 a.m.
St. George’s Square, 83 Wyndham Street North, Guelph

In the spirit of remembrance and solidarity, the Sex Workers’ Action Group – Guelph Wellington will be near the red umbrella display, ready to hand out cookies and share information with the community.

We also invite folks to light a candle in memory of those they have lost and those impacted by violence against sex workers.

Ottawa POWER: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Thursday, December 17, 6 p.m.
Human Rights Monument, Elgin Street, Ottawa

Thunder Bay: OPSEU red umbrella vigil
Thursday, December 17, 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
420 George Street, Thunder Bay

We will meet at Shelter House Thunder Bay, light candles and open our umbrellas. We will walk up Simpson Street, listening quietly to music.

After two blocks, we will head back towards the Kam River Park entrance. Once we reach the park doorway, we will stand in a circle, play the song “In the Arms of an Angel” and ask if anybody has anything they wish to say. There will be refreshments for participants.