There are growing concerns over the escalating violence sex workers face in Canada. The database will become useful for those who work on the streets province-wide. Furthermore, it allows workers to share their experiences of bad dates, without sharing it with the police – something many are hesitant to do. The importance of this system continues to grow amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which has increased violence towards sex workers.
Currently, sex workers operating in different areas of B.C. maintain their own lists of bad dates. However, as the sex workers operate in different groups – street-based, indoor, migrant – the systems are not connected. The new system will detail the client’s name, licence plate, phone number, or email address. Therefore, the sex worker is more prepared, which decreases the likelihood of falling victim to a violent client. According to Lyra McKee, an executive director of PACE Society that supports sex workers, “This is just a step further in integrating those existing systems and connecting communities across the province.”
A donation of $1 million from The Law Foundation of B.C. and an anonymous family foundation helped this plan to become a reality. The money is worth three years of funding; this will allow sex workers and their advocates to plan, build and launch the database.
According to McKee, the increase in isolation resulted in a decrease in access to resources and community help. This has only made violent acts more common. Some money is to hire staff to consult with a group of sex workers; it will particularly focus on those most vulnerable to abuse, like transgender and non-binary workers. This aims to understand why sex workers do not report violence to local law enforcement.