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International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers - Statement

December 17th is a day marked around the world to show solidarity with sex workers, and to mourn sex workers who have been lost and harmed due to violence.


AccessBC stands with sex workers in their fight against the discriminatory laws and policing, social stigma, and intersectional marginalization that target sex workers and make their work less safe.


“Sex work is work, and sex workers deserve to work in conditions that are safe and healthy,” said Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC. “For many sex workers, one of the tools they need to work safely is their contraception of choice. Unfortunately, sex workers often face additional barriers in accessing contraception, which can expose them to unnecessary health risks while trying to make ends meet.”


Those barriers are varied - however, one of the most significant barriers faced by sex workers, and all BC residents, in accessing contraception, is cost. An intra-uterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. 


“For people who already face extra challenges in accessing contraception, cost can be the factor that tips the scale,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, co-founder and Chair of AccessBC. “No one should be forced to work in dangerous conditions because they can’t afford the tools that would help keep them safe.”


On the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, AccessBC calls on the Government of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly to ensure that the 2020 budget includes provisions to make all forms of prescription contraception universally accessible at no cost.


Furthermore, we call on the government to ensure that all community clinics, hospitals, and identified health care sites are supported to carry a full complement of contraception to ensure that choice is available based on the needs and personal preferences of the individual seeking the contraception. 


“When people have the ability to exercise their right to decide when to conceive through safe and effective prescription contraception, it promotes better health outcomes and is empowering” said Dr. Ruth Habte, resident physician at the University of British Columbia and AccessBC Committee Member. “For sex workers specifically, providing no-cost contraception translates to safer working conditions.”


“Sex worker rights, like the right to safe working conditions, are human rights,” said Devon Black. “Universal, no-cost access to prescription contraception for everyone in BC will make it easier for sex workers to get tools they need do their jobs safely - just as every worker has a right to do.”

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