File #1008: "Final Report - PSSP.pdf"


Final Report
on Establishing the
Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project (PSSP)
Resource Centre

From Maggie's/the Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project
To Health and Welfare Canada, Health Promotion Directorate,
AIDS Community Action Plan

August 1993

C. L. Bearchell,
Project Administrator

Establishing the Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project (PSSP)
Resource Centre -- Final Report

Name and address of the project




Problems addressed by the project

Health promotion to prevent the spread of AIDS and other
STDs among sex workers
page 5


The context of the sex industry today




Why a resource centre



Background information about the grant recipient



Maggie's/Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service


Maggie's strategies and relations with the community
page 8
4. Outline of the project


Size and scope
Expansion of outreach and territory


Industry trends




Selection of area of operation and clientele
Area of operation
Who is a sex worker

page 11

Different levels of need and risk

page 10

page 11

Administrative structures and procedures
Board of directors
Staff collective

page 12

Project Administrator

page 13

AIDS educators


page 12

page 13

Policy changes promoted
Barriers to AIDS education

- 2 -

page 13

4. Outline of the project - Policy changes promoted - continued
Effects of criminalizing prostitution
Laws surrounding sex work

page 13

Bad dates

page 17

Abuse by police

page 13

page 18

Methods and techniques used by the project
How the resource centre operates


page 22

Data Gathering
Constraints on data gathering

page 23

Description of data gathered

page 23

Methods of data collection

page 24

Outcome of data collection

page 24

5. Project staff

Determining staff duties and qualifications

page 28


Description of project staff members

page 28

6. Evaluation

Objectives of the project

page 28


Method of evaluation

page 29


Program results and impact


Objective 1

page 30

Violence-prevention material


page 31

Objective 2

page 32

Gaining trust of a hard-to-reach group

page 33

Sex workers' AIDS education needs

page 34

Sub-populations of sex workers

page 35

- 3 -

6. Evaluation

b) Objective 2 - continued

Impact of poverty

page 36

Drug users

page 36

Complications of the strip club scene

page 37

Male prostitutes

page 37

HIV-positive prostitutes

page 38

Sex workers' clients' educational needs page 39
Education aimed at associates


Objective 3

page 40

Challenges facing single parents


page 40

page 41

Objective 4

page 43


The management process used in program implementation
page 43


Assessment of staff

page 45


Other results emanating from the project

page 48

Drug issues

page 48


Summary and Conclusions

page 50



page 52

Appendix A

Excerpts from outreach discussions
recorded by PSSP AIDS educators
page 54

Appendix B

PSSP Outreach Report Forms

page 56

Appendix C

Overview of Outreach Statistics

page 57

Appendix D

Maggie's Policy


Procedures Manual
page 58

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Establishing the Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project (PSSP)
Resource Centre -- Final Report

Name and address of the project
Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project (PSSP) Resource Centre
(Project# 6552-2-283)
298 Gerrard St. E., 2nd Floor, Toronto, Ontario
(Mailing address: Box 1143, Stn F, Toronto, Ontario M4Y 2T8).
Problems addressed by the project



Health promotion to prevent the spread of AIDS and other
STDs among sex workers

"Prevention is the key to curtailing the ultimate impact of
AIDS . . . • Sexual behaviour change is an achievable goal •••.
As with education for safer sex, STD awareness campaigns need
to be aimed at specifically vulnerable groups as well as,
more generally, the whole population."
Michael H. Merson, Director of World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS in "Slowing the Spread
of HIV: Agenda for the 1990s" (Science, May 28, 1993)
Studies in the US and Canada have found that a majority of
street prostitutes say they use condoms with their clients
80% in a 1985 western Canadian study. But a US Centres for
Disease Control study found that only a minority of prostitutes
used condoms with their steady partners. US studies have also
found that those prostitutes who have been infected with HIV
were infected either by sharing needles or by having unsafe sex
with their steady partners. In 1991 in Toronto, according to
the Department of Public Health, of 90 HIV-positive women in
the city, 10 were sex workers; of those 10, nine had been
infected by sharing injection equipment.
There is evidence that many clients of female prostitutes,
do not see themselves as being at risk for HIV and therefore
use condoms reluctantly. Some customers believe that, if they
pay more money for a "high-class" prostitute, they do not need
to worry about using condoms. And some indoor prostitutes, who
have regular customers, tend to see themselves as not being at
risk with those clients.
Epidemiology seems to bear out the women's clients' belief
about their relatively low risk for HIV infection. But it does
not follow that they do not need to use condoms. Epidemiology
also makes clear that people with multiple partners who do not
use condoms can and do become infected with other sexually
transmitted infections which they then spread to others at an
- 5 -

alarming rate. (It is prostitutes' long-standing desire to
avoid contracting such infections which has created some resistance to condom-use among people who have sex for free who
associate condoms with prostitution.) And a number of these
other STDs are seriously implicated in making people, especially women, more vulnerable to HIV infection.
Most prostitutes see hundreds of clients a year and many
clients also have multiple (paid and unpaid) partners. Given
these numbers, prostitutes are a logical point of contact for
educating many people who may be at relatively high risk for
STDs, including HIV, and who may not otherwise receive such
specific information and training in STD/AIDS prevention.
"The behaviour interventions that have been successful in
helping people move through [the] steps [to change] tend to
have several components l) repeated messages about AIDS
through the mass and other media 2) person-to-person contacts
in which individuals are educated about risks and messages
about risk reduction are reinforced usually by a trusted
member of their community or a peer 3) good condom promotion
and availability 4) a favourable policy climate characterized
by a willingness to confront the problem of AIDS, frankness
about sexuality and a non-stigmatizing approach to groups who
often face discrimination (such as homosexual and bi-sexual
men). It is useful, particularly when an HIV epidemic is at
an early stage, to aim educational interventions at specially
vulnerable groups such as young people, homosexual and
bisexual men and prostitutes and their clients."
Michael H. Merson, Director of World Health Organization's Global Program on AIDS in "Slowing the Spread
of HIV: Agenda for the 1990s" (Science, May 28, 1993)

The context of the sex industry today

As a consequence of the failing economy over the past several
years, there has been a large influx of new people into the sex
trade -- working on the streets, in bars and as escorts. We
have observed the increasing size of strolls (areas where
street prostitution occurs) in Toronto and the development of
new strolls, particularly in poorer suburban areas of the city.
We have also had reports of increases in street prostitution in
other communities throughout Ontario.
In the greater Toronto area, an increasing number of ads
are being placed in all publications that print escorts' ads in
their "classifieds" sections. In one publication the number of
pages of such ads has increased from two pages to five full
pages over a three-year period.
Bars that are licensed to employ strippers are also
feeling the economic crunch; many are no longer paying
performers but expect them to work for tips from the customers

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
only. The resulting increase in competition means more women
are faced to engage in more explicit and even riskier behaviour
-- in this case risking arrest as well as possibly contracting
a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Sharp yearly increases in the number of contacts and in
the number of condoms and pieces of information distributed by
PSSP demonstrates a demand for ongoing STD/AIDS prevention
education within the entire sex industry.

Why a resource centre

Information-sharing and discussion with street prostitutes, especially on the downtown strolls, is often thwarted by the
working conditions. There is competition among the workers and
pressure to take work whenever it arises so there are only infrequent opportunities to engage in longer, more in-depth discussions necessary to develop rapport, identify gaps in knowledge and resource needs and to interest potential volunteers
in working with the project. The resource centre has provided a
place to talk which is conducive to the development of such a
rapport and away from the immediate demands of the work
The PSSP resource centre facilitates the involvement of
both street and indoor prostitutes in the project's peer-education efforts. The participation of these volunteers not only
contributes to containing the spread of AIDS, but is also rewarding for the individual volunteer in terms of skills development and confidence building. It contributes to the sense
of pride and responsibility that prostitutes are developing in
their attempts to control their working conditions and establish safety and other professional standards. The more extensive contacts that the centre permits us to have with potential
participants also increases the project's ability to penetrate
further into existing informal networks of prostitutes and
their partners -- whether they work on the street, in bars or
in escort services.

Background information about the grant recipient

Maggie's/The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service

Maggie's mission is to provide education and support to assist
sex workers in our efforts to live and work with safety and
The Toronto Prostitutes' Community Service Project, as we
are legally known, was established as a non-profit, mutual aid
project for sex workers by Toronto prostitutes and our supporters in late 1985. We began conducting AIDS-prevention
education as a voluntary organization in 1987. We received

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
movement, from churches and youth service agencies, from drugabuse and STD treatment services and other AIDS-prevention or
support organizations. These people have generously given their
time and have helped us raise both awareness and funds in the
broader community. A few of them still serve on the board, most
are still associate members of Maggie's and continue to be
available to our staff members for advice.
Perhaps even more important to our success so far has been
the extent to which we have been able to become known and respected by so many people in the many different branches and
manifestations of the sex industry. We have extensive contact
with male, female, and transsexual or transgendered prostitutes
and strippers who work on the streets, in bars, on their own or
through agents or brothels. We also regularly see or speak with
many of their lovers, spouses, children and friends. Other
supporters include regular customers, agents and madams, strip
club managers, brothel owners, biker clubs, drug dealers and
crack house operators.
4. Outline of the project


Size and scope
Expansion of outreach team and territory

The geographic area covered, the size of the staff and the number sex workers reached has increased steadily throughout the
duration of this project.
Initially the project was to provide a resource centre to
an AIDS-prevention education team of four people (2.5 full time
positions) and those who used their services -- indoor and
street prostitutes in the City of Toronto. We opened the resource centre at the beginning of 1991. The previous year
(calendar year 1990), we had 1,803 contacts and distributed
10,906 condoms. That year (1991), we had 3,599 contacts and
distributed 20,680 condoms.
In the final full (calendar) year of the project (1992),
Maggie's expanded outreach to include the greater Metropolitan
Toronto area in order to reach growing suburban strolls. Our
AIDS-prevention education team consisted of six people (3.5
full time positions) and made 8,248 contacts and distributed
39,414 condoms.
Industry trends
The sex industry undergoes seasonal variations. Winter tends to
discourage street prostitution. Although there are many women
with family ties and commitments who cannot do so, some street
pros simply pick up and move to a warmer climate in the fall.
Those who stay may be obliged to support their children by
collecting social assistanceT 9tRers, male and female, are

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
students for whom sex work is full-time summer employment; they
may not work at all during the school year or they may only
work part time. Some of the streetwalkers who are based here
year round work in bars in inclement weather or sign on with
escort agencies. Others are out year round, regardless of the
weather. Some of them may be in relatively desperate circumstances; while others are dedicated sex professionals who don't
let a little bad weather get in the way of their preferred
means of working.
While fall is the time for departure of workers from the
streets, the spring is the traditional time for an influx of
new faces into all areas of the sex industry. Some are transients returning from warmer climes, some are students returning
to work, but inevitably many are new to the trade. In recent
years this seems to have been in response to high levels of
unemployment. The "spring rush" means outreach workers seeing
many workers for the first time and experiencing the slow process of building rapport and trust. Many transient pros from
other Canadian and US cities have never encountered peer AIDSprevention educators before and are generally very impressed
with our project and grateful for its services.
New escort agencies often appear in the spring and established ones tend to advertise for new workers; the number of
ads in entertainment publications for independent escorts also
tends to increase, sometimes substantially. As noted above, our
sagging economy has given rise to the development of new
strolls and the expansion of others, in poorer suburban areas
and in outlying communities. It has increased the number of
workers and thus increased competition among them and brought
prices down; this creates a great deal of tension.
The same economic circumstances that bring people into the
sex trade also contribute to drug dependencies for many people.
In recent years this has been reflected in the growth in use of
crack cocaine which, when it intersects with the sex trade on
the streets, makes a bad situation even worse. (See Drug
issues, page 45.)

Selection of area of operation and clientele
Area of operation

As indicated above, the geographic focus of our AIDS-prevention
outreach shifted from the City of Toronto to the greater metropolitan Toronto area. This change reflected several things: a
maturation of our staff and organization, an expansion of our
base of funding -- including receiving a grant from City of
Etobicoke and in particular one from the Trillium Foundation
for the acquisition of a van -- and the increase in visible
prostitution in suburban and nearby communities. As we move
into 1993 we will shift our geographic focus even further as we
participate in the Ontario :r+iril.fil;t-:r-y of Health's one-year

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
accessibility project which will take PSSP AIDS educators to
communities throughout the province to meet with AIDS and other
service organizations and local sex workers.
As stated above, we had a great deal of difficulty leasing
a site for the resource centre due to the reluctance of landlords to rent to a group of prostitutes -- even in economically
depressed areas where prostitutes work the streets and there
are high vacancy rates. These are, of course, areas where a
centre like ours should ideally be situated. Unfortunately
these are also areas where pros often suffer extreme hostility
from residents.
Who is a sex worker
For the purpose of Maggie's membership, a sex worker is anyone
who has agreed to the direct exchange of sexual stimulation for
financial compensation within the last six months, intends to
continue sex work, considers him or herself to be a sex worker
and has sufficient experience in the sex industry. While sexual
stimulation may or may not involve physical contact -- sex
workers include prostitutes, strippers, phone sex workers, and
pornography performers -- PSSP's AIDS-prevention efforts have
concentrated on those sex workers who do engage in physical
We have sought out male, female and transsexual or transgendered sex workers in their workplaces
on the street,
through agencies, in bars, in brothels, and in places where
independent escorts advertise. Through them we have also made
contact with the lovers/spouses, friends and customers of
Different levels of need and risk
Not all pros are equally at risk and not all are in equal need
of AIDS-prevention information, supplies, and opportunities for
community involvement. However, a resource centre that aims at
all pros is easily accessible to those who need it most. And
everyone has the right to up-to-date information. Workplace
health and safety needs of pros include fast access to the most
current STD-prevention information possible.
It has taken a lot longer to develop our networking with
those who work over the phone than it has to get established on
the street. It would seem from the studies that AIDS-prevention
education is not as urgent for escorts. On the other hand, the
pros who are most at risk (homeless, drug-addicted) and most in
need (single mothers) are also those least able to get involved
with Maggie's and PSSP. Those in less need -- street professionals and escorts -- may have more time and skills to contribute. Escorts may also feel a greater need to become involved
in community service work to overcome the relatively isolated
way they work.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report


Administrative structures and procedures

The membership of Maggie's has ultimate authority over Maggie's
through its power to elect and direct the board of directors at
annual general meetings or other specially called meetings.
To ensure sex worker control of Maggie's there are three
categories of membership, voting members, honourary members,
who may also vote, and associate members, who may not vote.
Recruiting new applicants to insure a strong membership is
the responsibility of all members of Maggie's, but particularly
of the membership committee and the staff collective.
Details of the rights and responsibilities of Maggie's
membership are set out in the Maggie's Policy and Procedures
Manual; and in the By-law of the Toronto Prostitutes' Community
Service Project.
The Board of Directors
In keeping with the first of Maggie's principles and beliefs,
that Maggie's is an organization for sex workers that is controlled by sex workers, a majority of members of the board
directors consists of sex workers (voting members).
The board of director's of Maggie's represents and is
accountable to the voting members of Maggie's.
The functions of the board include but are not limited to:

promoting the Mission, Aims and Principles;
establishing policies;
short and long term planning;
fund raising, financial management, authorizing
expenditures and budget planning;
fulfilling the legal responsibilities of Maggie's;
monitoring progress of staff towards meeting aims of
providing the staff with guidance in policy, legal,
medical, financial and other matters;
reporting to the membership at annual general meetings.
Staff Collective

The staff collective consists of project administrators and
AIDS educators. All staff members record hours and activities
daily on time sheets and file outreach reports monthly; meet
weekly to report on and evaluate outreach, educational materials, the resource centre and other programs; provide support to
Maggie's committees and represented the project to the
community, as opportunities permit.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
Project administrator
The project administrator coordinates the staff collective
(team of AIDS educators); guides planning and evaluation of
program and staff; maintains the centre's resources and
supplies; reports to and administers the work of the board of
directors; synthesizes written and verbal reports into reports
to funders and the board; seeks funding opportunities, submits
funding applications and reports to funders, as possible and
AIDS educators
AIDS educators conduct outreach; record outreach weekly,
according to location; attend weekly planning and evaluation
sessions with volunteers; staff the resource centre; recruit,
train and involve volunteers on an "as possible" basis.

Program and/or policy changes promoted
Barriers to AIDS education

The two most alarming things that PSSP AIDS educators have documented over the years are:
the effect of the criminalization of activities surrounding prostitution on both the workers and on our ability
to do effective STD/AIDS-prevention education and
the extent of violence and unsafe sex that occurs in the
context of assaults on prostitutes which seem to be facilitated by criminalizing prostitution-related activities
Effects of the criminalization of prostitution
In 1992 alone Metro police laid 4,000 prostitution-related
charges. The effects of these charges include the destabilization of people's lives by incarceration (which often results in
loss of homes and even children), harassment on the street and
by neighbours, violence by men posing as customers, abusive
treatment by individual police officers, discrimination in
housing and access to services and stigmatization.
The laws surrounding sex work
Exchanging a sexual service for money is not illegal per se,
but many of the activities surrounding such transactions have
been made illegal, including:
negotiating such an exchange in public, including some- 13 -

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
one's car (communicating for the purpose of prostitution)
going to a place where such a service is offered to seek
it out (found in a common bawdy house)
running a place where such activity could go on (keeping a
common bawdy house),
working for someone who runs a place where prostitution
goes on (inmate of a common bawdy house),
dancing "too suggestively" in a strip club (indecent theatrical performance or indecent act in a public place)
using your own or someone else's place (keeping a common
bawdy house) to regularly perform sexual services for
knowingly allowing a space that you own to be rented by
someone else to use to engage in prostitution (permitting
premises to be used as a common bawdy house),
living with or being habitually in the company of someone
while you work as a prostitute makes them vulnerable to
charges of pimping (living off the avails of prostitution)
Working the phones (In/out call workers)
In the 1970s, escort services and brothels, dungeons and party
girls were confined by their ability to advertise -- TeleDirect
(Yellow Pages) and newspapers allow only very discreet language
and imagery and discreet networks built by referrals. Then independent local periodicals that sell business classified advertising provided opportunities for independently-run business
in the sex trade. This alternative to the street expanded to
reach its economic limit through the late 1980s and continues
at that level today. Telephone personal ads are the latest
generation of sex advertising to include commercial sex.
While the vast majority of prostitution-related arrests
are made on the street, police have also laid charges against
independent call girls, escort agencies and NOW (one of the
local entertainment magazines which is an effective advertising
medium for prostitutes who work through phone ads). "Communicating" charges against the magazine were thrown out of court.
The number of advertisers increased, as people took the dropping of charges as an indication that this was a safe way to
work, and the cost of advertising in NOW increased, justified
in the magazine's eyes by the possible cost of further court
action. Meanwhile, prostitutes who advertised their "in-call''
services in NOW continued to be harassed and entrapped.
In February 1992 Toronto police arrested a dozen women
after extensive investigation of NOW magazine massage ads. In
one case three different officers, on three separate occasions,
made an appointment with a woman who advertised in NOW; all
paid for and received her services. The woman returned home
several days later to find her door ajar and several police
officers searching her apartment for marked money she had
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
supposedly received from them. Police have to prove habitual
use for the purposes of prostitution for a "keeping a common
bawdy house" charge, hence the multiple visits.
Keeping a common bawdy house is an indictable offence. If
someone is convicted, their landlord can be forced to evict him
or her; most landlords don't require that much incentive. Most
prostitutes would lose their place as soon as they were charged. Prostitutes charged with keeping a common bawdy house,
even those working alone in their own homes, can also be charged under the "proceeds of crime'' legislation which allows the
courts to seize and freeze all of a person's assets. If a
mother was charged with keeping a common bawdy house, Children's Aid would most likely investigate to determine if the
children should be removed from the home and if charges of
"corrupting morals" should be laid.
Escorts who restrict themselves to out-calls are not vulnerable to bawdy house charges but the market demands in-call
service. On several occasions pros advertising out calls have
been entrapped by being invited to a bar (a public place) where
they negotiated the terms of a date and then found themselves
facing a "communicating for the purpose" charge.
Working the bars
Over the past decade in Toronto, table dancing slowly developed
different forms of "dirty dancing": lap dancing, couch dancing,
jerk dancing (in booths).
Work place health issues became most acute following
several recent court rulings. In the case of the Pussy Cat club
in Montreal the Supreme Court ruled that the bawdy-house (for
the purpose of acts of indecency) did not apply if the parties
were hidden from view and didn't touch each other. In the Cheaters case in Ontario the court ruled that lap dancing was not
an "indecent theatrical performance," and in a Hamilton street
prostitution case that "indecent act in a public place" did not
apply if the parties had gone to some lengths to ensure that a
condition of privacy existed. As usual, such changes introduce
ambiguities which make dancers and clubs vulnerable to prosecution under other sections of the Criminal Code: bawdy house
(for the purpose of prostitution) as well as possibly "communicating for the purpose."
Both dancers and strip clubs are licensed in Metro Toronto. Individual dancers are charged a first time fee and must
renew their license every September. Clubs also pay a yearly
fee but new licenses are not granted so the total number of
licensed venues has been declining. Both dancers and clubs
stand to lose their licenses if convicted of a criminal
Once a stripper has been convicted for committing and indecent act and no longer qualifies for a dancer's license she
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
or he (but most likely she) may move to working in some other
part of the sex business. There she or he may be vulnerable to
further criminal charges, and if charged his or her situation
will be further complicated by having had a prior conviction.
Working the street
In 1992 Metro police laid 4,000 prostitution-related charges.
Most of those involved street prostitution -- the summary
offence of "communicating for the purpose of prostitution."
Someone charged with a first "communicating" offence will
probably get a light sentence, maybe not even a fine the first
time, but they will end up with a record. A certain number of
clients of street prostitutes are charged every year. Since
there are many more clients than pros, the customer rarely gets
charged a second time but the street walker almost always does.
A second offence will get the prostitute a fine for sure.
And either time a sex worker could get bail conditions that
make it hard for him or her to work or lead a normal life.
Prostitutes, especially women, are routinely given curfews
(only allowed out at certain hours of the day) and boundaries
(they must stay off certain streets or out of certain neighbourhoods).
The more times they are charged, the more likely they are
to get such conditions; if they are caught breaking one, they
automatically receive increased penalties (which vary, depending on the circumstances in which the conditions were imposed). Prostitutes with multiple convictions end up in jail,
eventually, while their customers almost never get multiple
convictions and therefore never do jail time for being
A smaller number of male prostitutes seem to get convicted
over and over again and do jail time for "communicating," possibly because there is a larger number of female career pros
working the streets. (Among the women who prefer to work on the
street are many who have custody of their children and who are
unwilling to do in-calls and thus are unable to make enough
money working as escorts.)
Serving time in jail
It always seems that as soon as we develop a rapport with a
particularly needy person, he or she disappears off to jail.
Often, if the person is using drugs, his or her health and
appearance may improve behind bars while they are forced to
stop using and to eat and sleep regularly. But once out again,
chances are his or her situation will be worse than ever.
A person who is forced to spend more than 30 days in jail
is likely to experience serious disruption in his or her life.
Most people cannot afford to pay rent on a place while they are

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
not occupying it and are unable to earn money, so most people
lose their housing and sometimes all of their possessions.
Women with custody of their children are likely to be in a
particularly difficult situation. Many loose custody of a child
or children temporarily or even permanently while doing time.
The stress of jail, homelessness and loss of child custody are
personal crises often cited by sex workers who develop or resume drug or alcohol problems.
One place where we failed to make headway in outreach was
in getting into the Metro West Detention Centre which is located in Etobicoke and is where many of the women who we see
throughout the Metro area go to jail for prostitution-related
offenses. Despite the regulation forbidding prostitutes from
visiting others in jail, we had some initial success conducting
a couple of STD/AIDS-prevention seminars under the auspices of
another agency. Unfortunately, after the educator conducting
the seminar made inquiries about why an HIV-positive pro was
being held beyond the end of her sentence, we were never invited back. Efforts to get back in, through other avenues, have
so far proved fruitless.
Sometimes serving prolonged jail time forces prostitutes
to reveal the nature of their work to family members and
friends. These revelations may produce either a hurt or confused reaction resulting in withdrawal of support or an angry
rejection that can include active hostility.
Many people work in the sex trade while completing postsecondary training. Some of them are particularly fearful of
the effect of acquiring a criminal record on their ability to
work in their chosen field, those studying law, for instance.
One of the most serious consequences of the criminalization of prostitution-related activities is that sex workers
cannot expect the criminal justice system to act to protect
Bad dates
Residents on the strolls are not the only assailants to take
their cue from the law's attitude toward prostitution. One man
posing as a customer in order to assault prostitutes told his
female victim that her kind wasn't "wanted around here" so he
could do "whatever he wanted to" to her. Our first report to
the funders of this project described alarming reports received
by AIDS educators of abuse from "bad dates."
As our rapport with our constituency grew so did the flood
of reports, especially from female street prostitutes. We felt
the need to respond to the information about "bad dates" by
proposing a Bad Trick Sheet to the women on the street. Their
response was positive and so we devised a method for collecting
and distributing this information. The BTS has been very wellreceived ever since -- with many expressions of appreciation

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
from women on the street and many offers of to contribute to
and distribute it.
Periodically, when we have received reports, we have also
issued a "boystown" version of the BTS.
Also from our first experiences with the BTS we began to
document the demand for prostitute-positive support for sex
workers who have been victims of violence.
We received $1,500 for printing costs from the City of
Toronto, Planning and Development Department's "Breaking the
Cycle of Violence" grants. With all the media attention on violence against women and with various levels of government officially committed to investing in preventing violence we are
disappointed to report that we have not yet found other funders
to support expanding our violence prevention initiatives.
Abuse by police
The other series of alarming reports that we received and
passed on after the resource centre was in operation was a barrage of prostitutes' complaints about abuse and harassment by
the police.
It wasn't long after we were in operation before some PSSP
educators were experiencing abusive behaviour from police officers themselves. Two AIDS educators were followed around doing
street outreach one night, a volunteer was told to remove her
"safe sex ho" button or she'd be charged with "communicating."
We were able to document some of these experiences and to begin
to address the issue of police abuse of prostitutes in a 12minute film, Prowling By Night, which was funded by the National Film Board. The film has been well-received inside and outside the sex industry. One of the most positive impacts it had
on our day-to-day work was that it brought in enthusiastic
In another incident of police harassment that hit close to
home police arrested a woman moments after she had received
condoms and information from a PSSP educator. The officers were
insulting and verbally abusive to the woman and told her they
knew she was working because she had been talking to a girl
from Maggie's. The woman was homeless, handicapped and had been
denied welfare because she was a recent arrival in Toronto. We
first had to reassure her that we had not deliberately set her
up to get arrested before we could put her in touch with appropriate legal and social services. We could not draw attention
to this incident when it occurred because the woman feared
further police harassment.
By mid-1992 Maggie's staff collective could say wholeheartedly that it supported all the recommendations of the
Report of an Inquiry into the administration of internal investigations by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force
the report of the "Junger Inquiry." This inquiry was set up after
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
reports in the press that the Toronto police force was making
"sweet-heart'' deals with cops who were caught in dubious circumstances with prostitutes. In the case of Gordon Junger, he
was caught running an escort agency with his girl friend, Roma
Langford, and was given a letter of reference and had all
charges dropped when he agreed to resign. In the case of Brian
Whitehead, he was prosecuted under the police act and demoted
after he was caught sexually assaulting and extorting sex from
a prostitute who was known at the inquiry as Jane Doe.
In a submission to t~e Police Services Board Maggie's
staff expressed admiration and respect for Roma Langford and
Jane Doe, "who at great personal loss and fear for their lives
came forward in the name of justice. Without either of them as
witnesses the Report of the Inquiry would never have surfaced."
The submission continued:
The justice system totally disregarded the safety of
Langford. Junger was told that Langford had reported
him, and was then released; no criminal charge was
pressed for his breach of the conditions of his undertaking to stay away from Langford. The fact that Jane
Doe had to obtain an injunction to protect her anonymity
further demonstrates total disregard for the concerns of
the victim. We believe that these occurrences were due
in part because the witnesses were prostitutes.
The Report explicitly states that both Langford and
Jane Doe were not considered credible witnesses. When
Jane Doe indicated that she was ready and willing to
testify in a criminal trial, no criminal charges were
pressed. The fact that the defense and prosecutor negotiated a penalty of days off in the Whitehead case and
that Jane Doe was not informed and had no representation
at the hearing suggests collusion in disregard for the
concerns of the victim and the seriousness of the offence. The treatment of Jane Doe by the Internal Affairs
investigators demonstrates the obvious need for investigators and officers in general to be sensitized to the
traumatizing effects of surviving violent and sexual
The submission goes on to cite two examples of how police respond
to incidents of violence against prostitutes taken from information given to Maggie's outreach workers for the Bad Trick Sheet:
A street prostitute was beaten, choked with a rope and
left unconscious in an alley. She had severe bruising on
her neck and face the next day when she approached two
female police officers to report the incident. They asked
her what she expected in her line of work and refused to
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
take a report.
A homeless street prostitute was beaten and raped so
badly that she ended up in hospital for several days and
several months later still required surgery. The hospital
called police. The officer who responded to the call had
arrested the woman in the past and during the arrest was
violent toward her. He told her, in front of hospital
staff, that she had it coming and left.
Assaults on prostitutes are no different than assaults on
anyone else.
Every assault that happens on a prostitute that doesn't
get reported or where eventual charges are not laid leaves
a violent person who will assault women free on the
street, believing that there will be no consequences for
their actions. There needs to be full support for victims
of serious and sexual assault so that victims will be
encouraged to stand witness. Because of the criminality of
prostitution, prostitutes are seen as expendable by the
justice system. Because prostitutes are seen as criminals,
often with prior offenses (because they have been targeted
and entrapped by police), their reports of assaults are
disregarded and trivialized.
Reports of assaults from prostitutes to the police
have often resulted in the prostitute being charged with a
prostitution-related offence or being arrested for an outstanding warrant. Prostitutes are also discouraged from
reporting incidents of domestic violence to the police for
fear of being harassed to testify for living on the avails
charges rather than an assault charge. A woman's partner
should be charged for assaulting her -- not for being her
Prostitutes need to be able to report assaults to the
police without fear of being prosecuted for current or
outstanding prostitution-related and other minor charges.
(Although drug possession is an indictable offence, immunity from drug charges would also be favourable.)
Prostitutes experience the justice system from a position
of distrust. Emotional trauma does not seem to be a
consideration for a prostitute reporting sexual assault.
Their charges are most often plea-bargained down giving
priority to the concerns of the assailant. This all makes
it even more difficult for a prostitute to press charges
to the fullest extent of the law.
Police Violence Against Prostitutes
The report of the Junger inquiry states that, "The public
must be assured that when wrongdoing by an officer is sus- 20 -

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
pected, the case will be investigated swiftly, and if
there is evidence to lay a charge, prosecuted vigorously.
There must be no special treatment because the person
under investigation wears a badge."
Perhaps we need a similar statement that guarantees
that there will be no special treatment because the victim
is a prostitute. Recently a Maggie's outreach worker heard
three separate collaborating accounts of an incident which
occurred within the previous month:
A native hustler near the downtown YMCA was assaulted
by a police officer who had removed his badge number.
The officer asked to see the hustler's ID and then
threw it on the ground. When the hustler bent down to
pick it up, the officer stepped on his hands. The
officer hooked a night stick under the hustler's
throat. The hustler asked, "Why are you doing this;
I've been cooperative; I've done everything you've
asked." He was told to shut up. One of his hands was
This is just one more incident of police brutality
against prostitutes that will go unreported. It is known
on the street that any attempt to report a police officer
will result in retaliation. The inquiry report states
that, "Inadequate consideration has been given to victims
of police wrong-doing." We believe that this is true in
part in the cases of Jane Doe and Roma Langford because
the victims were prostitutes. As long as prostitutes are
vulnerable under the criminal justice system, they will
rarely testify against an officer for misconduct, especially if that misconduct was assault. The bravery of these
two women must be recognized.
The criminality of prostitution contributes heavily
to the inability of the police force to prosecute officers
when dealing with prostitution-related incidents. The report states that, "approximately 95 per cent of the complaints that are reviewed by the force's complaint review
officer, based on documentary evidence, result in no
action." It is our belief that, because prostitutes are
expendable within the justice system, complaints brought
forward by prostitutes will continue to result in no
excepted from Maggie's submission to the Metro
Toronto Police Services Board - August 1992
The most serious instances of police abuse of prostitutes
sexual assault, robbery -- usually occur in actual or threatened arrest situations. But lesser forms of abuse are common in
daily police work. Police regularly pull up to women working
the streets and force them to squat on the side walk beside the
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
police car while they run the woman's name through the computer. Police investigations in areas where pros work on the
street often result in increased harassment for some workers as
well as a declines in business, even in cases where prostitutes
have been instrumental in providing information leading to the
apprehension of suspects.
Police harassment on the street has an impact on the way
business is conducted and thus on our ability to do outreach to
those conducting business. PSSP educators who do outreach in a
west-end Toronto neighbourhood have seen the traditional
strolls expand deep into residential streets and off of commercial ones as prostitutes tried to avoid police harassment. The
combination of obvious police contempt for prostitutes and this
bullying of workers from one corner to another and into
residential areas results in increased hostility on the part of
neighbours which has sometimes escalated into assaults.

Methods and techniques used by the project
How the resource centre operates

The PSSP resource centre provides Maggie's users, researchers
and members of the public with access to a collection of printed, audio and visual materials addressing sexually transmitted
diseases (STDs) and other health and safety concerns of prostitutes. It is open to the public two days a week, and otherwise
by appointment and is extensively used by staff and volunteers
most days and nights.
The centre is integrated into a program of peer-based outreach to male, female and transsexual or transgendered sex workers and their families, friends and clients. Outreach is conducted by a team of AIDS educators (paid staff and volunteers)
over the phone, on the street (on foot, on bicycle, and using a
van) and in court; they distribute condoms, needle-cleaning
kits, pamphlets, buttons and other STD-prevention information.
The centre provides AIDS educators with a place to talk with
Maggie's service-users in more depth than they can on the
street, and a place to hold weekly planning and evaluation
meetings. Evening coffee house (drop-in) events are held regularly and community groups sometimes meet in the resource
The centre produces and develops educational materials
based on needs assessed by the AIDS educators outreach teams.
Drafts of materials are circulated to AIDS educators and various advisors and are evaluated by focus groups made up of
resource centre users. In the case of printed materials, layout
and design are done by Maggie's staff and/or volunteers.
The resource centre provides a locus for assessing the
needs, concerns and interests of people in the sex industry.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

Data gathering
Constraints on data gathering

Our goal is not just to deliver a quick message and disappear
but to win recruits to a campaign. People do not become involved in community service work with strangers. We started with
staff from within the industry but that did not guarantee
instant success. Those staff members knew their constituency
well enough to know that they needed to demonstrate respect for
both the privacy and the security of their colleagues in the
sex industry if they were going to be trusted enough to win
Both medical and sexual matters are traditionally deemed
private. As are, often, the details of one's earnings. Sex
workers are as likely as anyone else to have conservative views
about such matters.
Despite that, they are, as a group, subject to a disproportionate amount of research and public scrutiny. Social service workers, public health officials, criminal justice officials, social scientists, students, and the media all find
prostitution a profitable subject to study. While some may
enjoy the attention, most prostitutes do not appreciate this
elevated level of curiosity about their work lives.
Description of data gathered
We gathered data for the purpose of determining if we were accomplishing our objectives of providing AIDS-prevention, information to prostitutes, their customers and their lovers,
spouses and friends. We recorded:

The number of male and female, indoor and outdoor prostitutes we have contacted; the number of their clients,
lovers/spouses, friends and associates we contacted with
AIDS-prevention information and resources.


The number of condoms distributed in prostitutes' work


The number of pieces of AIDS-prevention information
(safe-sex pamphlets and cards; Bad Trick Sheets;
buttons; newsletters) that we produced/distributed.


Information about sexual assaults on prostitutes,
including number and types of incidents reported.


The number of referrals we made and to whom they were
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

The number of individuals to whom we provided needle
cleaning information.


The number of individual prostitutes who participate in
activities of the project, including attending events and
participating as volunteers in producing and distributing
safe sex education materials and estimates of the amount
of time they contributed.


AIDS educators' assessments of the level of concern and
knowledge of their sex worker contacts about AIDS and
STD prevention.
Methods of data collection

As AIDS educators complete each session of outreach, they complete outreach report forms which_ indicated when, where and how
they conducted the outreach. The forms [see Appendix B] recorded: the number of sex workers, including volunteers, if any,
of which gender were contacted at each location (stroll, bar,
brothel) or during a telephone session; the number of friends,
associates, lovers/spouses and clients; the number of condoms
and pieces of written information; the number of individuals
receiving needle cleaning kits or information; any referrals
made; comments about the level of concern and knowledge of
their sex worker contacts about STD/AIDS prevention, specific
questions that were raised by contacts and any other relevant
information. Separate forms were used to collect reports for
the BTS.
Outcome of data collection

The number of male and female, indoor and outdoor
prostitutes we have contacted.
Increase in contacts:
from 2,815 in 90/91 to 3,801 in 91/92 = 135%
from 3,801 in 91/92 to 9,768 in 92/93 = 256%


The number of condoms distributed in prostitutes' work
Increase in condoms:
from 10,906 in 90/91 to 24,387 in 91/92, = 223%
from 24,387 91/92 to 50,458 in 92/93 = 207%

[See Appendix C, Overview of Outreach Statistics, for comparison of contacts made and number of condoms distributed over
three years of the project.]
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

The number of pieces of AIDS-prevention information


pamphlets distributed
"trick cards" distributed
buttons distributed



pamphlets distributed
"trick cards" distributed
buttons distributed



pamphlets distributed

By 1992 "trick cards" and buttons were subsumed in series
of new materials; and record keeping was rendered more
difficult due to increased participation of volunteers in
materials distribution. These figures represent materials
delivered directly to service users. They do not reflect
pamphlet distribution in bulk through volunteers and other
The continuing popularity of ephemera such as buttons, stickers, match books and information cards attests
to their effectiveness in reinforcing both a safe sex message and a sense of pride in professionalism that fosters
the self-respect necessary to consistent safe sex
Bad Trick Sheets and newsletters were also
distributed throughout this entire period.

Reports to the Bad Trick Sheet
By mid-August 1992 the Bad Trick Sheet had collected 114

incidents involved rapes, including 4 gang rapes
involved other assaults
involved forcible confinement
involved knives, including 3 actual stabbings
involved guns
4 involved attempted strangulation
2 involved attacks with hammers
3 involved attempts to run down women with vehicles
5 involved assailants who claimed to be police (these
statistics do not include incidents of assaults known to
have been committed by police officers)
This information relates only to women on the street, it
does not include information relating to male pros or to
women who work as escorts or in-call prostitutes.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

The number of referrals we made and to whom.
1990 - A total of 80 referrals:




Hassle Free Clinic
The Works
the Addiction Research Foundation
Parkdale Community Legal Services
416 Dundas

1991 - A total of 291 referrals:



Hassle Free Clinic
Parkdale Community Legal Services
The Works
straight work
the 416 drop-in
the AIDS Hotline
Youthlink - Inner City
the Gerstein Centre
Anishnawbe Health
Strip clubs
Rape Crisis Centre
Canada Employment (retraining)
George Brown College
Nellie's Hostel for Women
Parkdale Community Health Clinic
the University of Toronto
Metro Toronto Social Services
Seaton House
AIDS Action Now!
an MD
the AIDS Committee of Ottawa

1992 - A total of 211 referrals:




Hassle Free Clinic
The Works
Parkdale Community Legal Services
Straight Work
416 Dundas
Youthlink -- Inner City
the Gerstein Centre
an MD
Parkdale Health Centre
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

to a food bank
to Narcotics Anonymous

The number of individuals to whom we provided needle
transmission prevention information.

Needle transmission prevention information was
distributed to 360 people.



Needle transmission prevention information was
distributed to 69 people.

Needle transmission prevention information was
distributed to 487 people.

Volunteer involvement
The number of individual prostitutes who participate in
activities of the project, including attending events and
participating as volunteers in producing and distributing
safe sex education materials and estimates of the amount
of time they contributed.


Maggie's volunteers helped on our board, with
event organizing, through the newsletter and
with outreach on 185 occasions (for
approximately 1,134 hours)



Maggie's volunteers helped on our board, with
event organizing, through the newsletter and
with outreach on 40 occasions (with no attempt
to record hours)

Maggie's volunteers helped on our board, with
event organizing, through the newsletter and
with outreach on 905 occasions (for approx.
2,438 hours)

AIDS educators' assessments of the level of concern and
knowledge of their sex worker contacts about AIDS and STD
The vast majority of prostitutes with whom PSSP educators
make contact express concern about AIDS and STD prevention. Most of those with whom we have extensive enough
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
contact to evaluate their knowledge were well-informed
about AIDS prevention -- virtually all were aware that
using condoms and clean needles prevented the spread of
AIDS. Like most people, many prostitutes are less likely
to use condoms with spouses and lovers. Concern was
expressed, and knowledge demonstrated, less frequently by
5. Project staff


Determining staff duties and qualifications

The project administrator's job description was designed to
find someone with the skills to establish and run the resource
centre as well as meet all administrative needs of Maggie's.


Description of project staff members
One full time staff member, a project administrator, was
hired by this grant for this project.
The project Administrator received no training.
Although she has only limited experience as a sex worker,
she had extensive experience in community organizing and
was familiar with the concerns and the needs of sex
workers as a result of having helped start and shape
She stayed for the duration of the grant.

6. Evaluation


Objectives of the project


To establish and operate a resource centre through which
the PSSP can educate prostitutes and their partners,
using -- and fostering -- peer counselling, in the development of AIDS-prevention materials.


To distribute, through the resource centre, AIDS-prevention information and materials aimed at motivating
prostitutes and their partners to avoid high risk behaviour with all partners using -- and fostering -- peer


To motivate, train and equip volunteer prostitutes and
others to make AIDS-prevention information and materials
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
available in the work environments of sex workers.

To operate a resource centre as a repository of information about safer commercial sex and to make information
available to AIDS educators and programs, and to medical,
social and other researchers throughout Canada and the


Method of evaluation

When the Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project began, we had very ambitious plans for project evaluation, especially for evaluating
the behaviours and knowledge level of the women and men who we
were striving to reach. The detailed questionnaire that we used
at this time proved cumbersome to project workers and alienating to our target audience. (See Constraints on data gathering, above). We found ourselves undermining one of the project's greatest strengths -- its direct access to sex workers - by using an approach with them which they associate with untrustworthy outsiders. We tried modifying the questionnaire to
make it shorter and less intrusive but this did not substantially improve our ability to work with this tool.
Later, once we felt securely established with enough of
our contacts and were beginning to develop our membership and
volunteer base, PSSP attempted to participate in a long-term
research project aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of our
program. Considerable staff time was devoted to the preparation
of a research proposal.
In January 1992, we were forced to reconsider the project
in light of economic realities when it was turned down by the
National Health Research and Development Program. We decided to
stop pursuing the project for the foreseeable future and to
continue our on-going process evaluation activities.
Our present method of evaluation consists of:
collecting outreach data indicating: the number of contacts made with sex workers and others involved in the sex
industry (clients, spouses/lovers, friends and associates
and managers/agents); the extent of volunteer involvement
in the outreach program; and the number of condoms and
pieces of information distributed
collecting service-user feedback whenever possible and
appropriate about the resource centre, their participation
in educational events and AIDS-prevention cultural activities for sex-worker volunteers and potential volunteers
involving volunteers in production and evaluation of edu- 29 -

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
cational materials (focus groups) and eventually in a committee to publish a newsletter which evaluated each issue
holding weekly outreach evaluation forums, involving
volunteers to determine the impact we are having on the
level of understanding of AIDS and HIV within the sex


Program results and impact

Objective 1

Using resource centre to involve sex workers in the development
of AIDS-prevention materials

Service-users participate in think-tank discussions (focus
groups) where the mock-ups of proposed materials are
discussed and evaluated.


Volunteer feedback and service-user feedback received by
staff during outreach is recorded at weekly outreach
evaluations meetings.

Problems and implications
Much of the population to whom this project addresses itself
does not have a high degree of literacy. There will always be a
need for information to be exchanged on a one-to-one basis and
for the production of non-written educational materials.
On-going focus testing of written materials means that the
information is continually fine-tuned but the process has its
draw-backs. Due to the need to produce a number of test runs of
any given piece of educational material, we sometimes end up
with various versions of materials in circulation. And of
course the earliest versions are never as good as the final
Our brief experiences with film and video production showed us
that although, due to the problem of access, they only partially address the needs of people with low literacy skills, both
media have an enormous potential for volunteer involvement and
community building.
We have had a lot of positive feed back about the Maggie's
Newsletter. Much like the resource centre itself, it seems to

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
crystallize volunteer/member identification with the project
and its work and thus increases participation.
Careful control should be kept of the quantities of each
version of a piece of printed material that is in development
since information is always changing -- hopefully getting
clearer. (Taking advantage of printers' volume discounts can be
counter-productive; copying should be done in batches of 50 or
100 until you are certain a version is final).
Our experience with one type of written material, bad
trick lists, is particularly instructive so we present it in
some detail.
Violence-prevention material
While the Bad Trick Sheet (BTS) continued to be one of the
if not the -- most effective street outreach tools that
Maggie's had developed, it quickly became apparent that it
needed to be expanded and improved. At first we assumed that
the way to expand it was to involve other agencies which conduct street outreach in the distribution of it. One of the
drawbacks to this approach became obvious right away -- 95% of
the entries included on the BTS were collected by AIDS educators distributing the BTS during outreach. We weren't going to
be able to solve the problem just by finding money for a larger
print run. We would also have to train and co-ordinate other
agencies in collecting the reports.
Then a number of our AIDS educators sought feed back from
women who had provided them with information for the BTS and
found that a significant minority of them would be unwilling to
give such information to people from outside of their community. That is when we began to realize what a community-building
and skills-sharing opportunity this project could be -- with
resources for a co-ordinator, the right computer equipment and
programs and our solid and growing volunteer base.
As soon as we produced the BTS we began to see the need
for a similar bad date warning system for indoor workers. On a
number of occasions we have initiated telephone "trees" among
female escorts when we had reports of dangerous men seeking to
victimize call girls. But the need for a more formal and serious effort to address this problem was brought home brutally
when a sex worker who was a friend and an associate of many
Maggie's members and volunteers disappeared and was later found
to have been murdered.
Her disappearance and death caused much grief among the
many people who knew and loved Candice (Grayce Elizabeth Baxter). The "date" who killed her was known to other prostitutes
as a problem "date" including by women involved with Maggie's
who co-operated with the police in their investigations. A
meeting of escorts to plan a bad date warning system for
escorts was organized in Grayce's name by members of Maggie's
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
and the Sex Workers' Alliance of Toronto. The Bad Call List was
launched in late 1993.
Over time there has been a growing sense of ownership of
the bad trick lists by people in their respective sectors of
the industry. It is already becoming apparent that one ideal
way to make this violence-prevention information available
would be 24-hours-a-day by telephone.

Objective 2

Using the resource centre to organize the distribution of AIDSprevention information and materials to sex workers
Method of evaluation

Staff collect outreach data indicating: the number of
contacts made with sex workers and others involved in the
sex industry (clients, spouses/lovers, friends and
associates and managers/agents); the extent of volunteer
involvement in the outreach program; and the number of
condoms and pieces of information distributed. (See Data
collection, above.)


Staff and volunteers hold weekly outreach evaluation
forums to determine the impact they are having on the
level of understanding of AIDS and HIV within the sex
industry, barriers to AIDS education, etc.

Problems and implications
It is impossible to determine the extent to which our outreach
has resulted in a reduction of the risk of HIV and STD transmission among sex workers for a variety of reasons relating to
the confidentiality of HIV test results as well as to the sexual practices of those who are tested. It is difficult to determine, even with self-reporting, the extent to which sex professionals are practising safe sex in personal encounters.
Our ability to determine the extent of a person's knowledge increases proportionally with the extent of educators'
contacts with the person. It was a rare occurrence for an educator to engage someone in an in-depth discussion of AIDS-prevention during a first contact.
Even the most experienced PSSP AIDS educators find it
difficult to approach street pros when they are gathered together (hanging around) in groups on the street. Reception
varies from extreme warmth to outright hostility but, whatever
the reception, it is almost impossible to engage groups in
discussions of AIDS prevention. Opening the resource centre
helped overcome this problem for those service-users who are
willing to visit it.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
Gaining the trust of a hard-to-reach group
AIDS and social service agencies traditionally view sex workers
as "a hard-to-reach population." Many prostitutes are "in the
closet" about their work and are living socially isolated lives
in the suburbs, some work as dancers and unbeknownst to their
friends turn trick on the side, many belong to tight-knit
circles of friends and colleagues, still others are part of the
drug subculture, some are homeless street people. Because it is
comprised of prostitutes, PSSP has been successful in gaining
access to this wide variety of prostitutes.
In the process of gaining prostitutes' trust we found we
it very useful to show respect by recognizing that many sex
workers are in ideal positions to pass on accurate STD-prevention information to others (customers, friends, colleagues -especially new-comers) who have multiple partners.
It is important to recognize that, while it creates problems for HIV-positive pros (fear of possible legal consequences
as well as inability to get support from "straight'' society or
colleagues -- especially if they are women and still working),
it is legitimate for sex workers to resist having their work
associated with AIDS. While epidemiology has demonstrated
repeatedly that the media stereotype of the reckless, diseasespreading prostitute is false, prostitutes continue to suffer
from the stigma of it. Sex workers know that the commercial
nature of a sexual act does not impart any special risk to it.
They know that they are no more and no less at risk of contracting or passing on STDs than any person with multiple partners.
Experienced prostitutes tend to be safe sex practitioners
because they understand their workplace health and safety needs
in terms of STDs generally.
"Given the enormous magnifying effect of
conventional STDs on HIV transmission, effective
STD care must be a priority throughout this decade
and into the next century."
Michael H. Merson, Director of World Health
Organization's Global Program on AIDS in
"Slowing the Spread of HIV: Agenda for the
1990s" (Science, May 28, 1993)
It is also important to respect sex workers' resistance to
being labelled helpless victims who are forced to do sex work.
This view is paternalistic and disempowers prostitutes. Nevertheless our culture and its laws do victimize people who engage
in sex work and, just as the resistance to associating sex work
with AIDS may create added difficulties for prostitutes who are
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
HIV-positive, the resistance to the stereotype of the "prostitute as victim" makes it a challenge to design programs to
address the ways in which prostitutes really are victimized. In
the past, information which documented the plight of the neediest or most desperate prostitutes has been seized on by the
media, women's and other interest groups to promote this victim
view. The Bad Trick Sheet and other bad date warning systems
are particularly vulnerable to being transformed from positive,
empowering responses to violence into disempowering and discouraging messages in the hands of outsiders, no matter how
Sex workers' AIDS education needs
The vast majority of prostitutes with whom PSSP educators make
contact express concern about AIDS and STD prevention. Most of
those with whom we have extensive enough contact to evaluate
their knowledge were well-informed about AIDS prevention -virtually all were aware that using condoms prevented the
spread of AIDS.
Despite extensive knowledge about the basics of AIDS
prevention, prostitutes have frequently had questions about the
intricacies of prevention and the complexities of AIDS. Their
questions about prevention centred around:
reasons to use condoms for oral sex,
the need to use only water-based lubricant,
the usefulness of Non-oxynol-9 as a back-up in the event
of condom failure,
the need to protect broken skin from contact with bodily
ways to prevent needle transmission,
whether or not to practice safe sex with lovers and
Questions about AIDS and HIV centred around:
whether or not HIV is transmitted orally,
how to assess whether or not to have an HIV antibody test,
the difference between a positive antibody test and an
AIDS diagnosis,
the existence of treatments for opportunistic infections;
the lack of a cure or vaccine for the syndrome,
the long incubation period and the fact that people
usually don't look like -- or even know if -- they have
the virus.
There are also isolated individuals and newcomers whose
knowledge of the basics may even be lacking in important areas.
Examples of concerns that have been raised by such individuals
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
what lubrication is and why to use it,
why withdrawal isn't enough protection (with a lover),
the risks from oral sex with women and how to minimize
how to clean a needle,
the possibility of transmitting blood-bourn infections
while tattooing,
what laws are related to prostitution (many people have
misconceptions about the legality of entrapment)
For further information about the content of PSSP AIDS
educators' ·contacts with street prostitutes, please see
Appendix A, Excerpts from outreach discussions recorded by AIDS
educators (p. 54).
Focus on certain sub-populations of sex workers
Impact of poverty
As the project evolved, we found that the majority of our
AIDS-prevention education takes place on the streets. While not
all streetwalkers suffer extreme victimization, the neediest
prostitutes tend to work the street. The sex acts most risky
for contracting AIDS (vaginal and anal intercourse) are not the
services most commonly offered by prostitutes working the
streets (oral and manual stimulation are). But the homeless
women and men and others under severe economic pressure who
work the streets are those most likely to be unable to afford
to buy condoms. And unprotected oral sex with multiple partners
is very risky for contracting others STDs which in turn are
associated with HIV infection.
Drug users
While prostitutes in general, including street prostitutes,
resent the stereotype of the drug-addicted prostitute, there
are a significant minority of people who work the street who
engage in drug-using behaviour that may put them at risk for
HIV and other blood-borne infections. A recent study of crack
users in New York indicated that there may be an increased risk
of oral HIV transmission among regular crack users who often
have sores on and in their mouths. Crack users are also known
to sometimes barter sex for drugs and may be more likely to
have unprotected sex, even intercourse, with dealers or "drug
buddies" who they view as friends rather than as clients.
On the other hand, PSSP educators have noticed an
increasing willingness on the part of some drug-using pros to
increase their knowledge and practice of AIDS-prevention. As
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
one volunteer remarked: "I never would have believed those
junkie girls on***** Street would ever use condoms. But I've
been handing out condoms for Maggie's for a couple of years now
-- and I know they're usin' em!"
Complications of the strip club scene
As describer earlier, strip clubs are vulnerable to unclear
(and erratically enforced) laws surrounding adult entertainment. (See page 15.) We would not have been able to gain
access, especially to female dancers, if we had not had a
number of staff and volunteer AIDS educators with long work
records as strippers.
In light of recent legal decisions, even though one of
them (Cheaters) is under appeal, some strip club managements
are in the habit of making it clear to dancers that "anything
goes" as long as the customer is happy and the management
doesn't know about it. The stress of this situation causes a
great deal of anxiety among the women who work in bars,
including concern about AIDS and other sexually and socially
transmissible diseases as well as fear of arrest. However,
addressing these concerns is made doubly difficult by the
circumstances of both official management denial that this is
their policy and the fact that many dancers are unwilling to
acknowledge -- even to each other -- that they do "extras" to
make ends meet. Providing STD and AIDS prevention information
in environments where sex does not officially happen is very
difficult and one AIDS educator has had to defuse some hostile
dressing room confrontations. A similar resistance to our
information and other resources exists with escort agencies
where our staff or volunteers are not already known.
Dancers' fears about possible legal ramifications in these
circumstances have proved to be well founded and many have
found themselves facing charges in the past. The complications
of doing AIDS-prevention education and condom distribution in
some clubs was further compounded once charges were laid. Fortunately most dancers work in a variety of clubs and can be
reached at other venues where that atmosphere is not so generally fearful or where owners or managers are more sympathetic
to our work.
Male prostitutes
Most full-time or long-time male pros are escorts and male
escorts are virtually all gay or bisexual men. Escorts are more
likely than their colleagues on the street to engage in anal
intercourse, although relatively few escorts include receptive
anal intercourse among their services because they are aware
that those who do offer such services are the most susceptible
to possible infection through condom failure.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
There is a significant population of younger men who work
the streets, some of whom also work as escorts as well; the
majority of them are also gay or bisexual.
A small number of the men who work the street are heterosexual by preference and identity. Fewer than half of male pros
on the street are straight identified, and "don't do much."
(They profess to never engage in anal intercourse and to perform oral sex only rarely.) These young men are most often
homeless or drug-addicted or both; those who've shared injection equipment also face more potential risk from behaviour in
their private lives than in their work lives. There is little
interaction between the minority of straight-identified hustlers and their gay colleagues, but, where interaction occurs,
relations are generally cordial.
Connections with young men in the sex trade developed
mostly through actual personal networks, individuals being
known in clubs, on the street and in the ads. Both the street
and the ad scene have a fairly high turn-over rate, over any
given period of time. Prostitution often serves as a supplementary income, or a stop-gap measure for young, gay men so there
is a significant population of casual and transient, part-time workers.
Anal sex in the street scene usually doesn't happen unless
the pro and the client end up a someone's place even if that is
a motel room. Most interaction between gay bi and straight
identified hustlers is cordial.
Many young men who hustle often have economic relationships over time where trust develops and, as with any relationship that involves trust, that can lead to riskier practices in
terms of HIV transmission. Especially in environments that will
not tolerate "sexual deviance." Young men who hustle are at
least at the same level of risk in their personal lives as are
other gay/bisexual teenagers and men who are sexually active.
That is, they are among the people most at risk for catching
HIV today. Young people have often put themselves at risk because they don't have the information before they start having
sex. Young male pros are: targeted by almost every youth agency
in existence as someone in need of rescue; seldom acknowledged
by much of the gay community; visible and vulnerable to haterelated assault.
HIV-positive prostitutes
HIV-positive prostitutes are highly stigmatized by the press
and can therefore be extremely isolated.
Since male prostitutes and their customers, as men who
have sex with men, are among the people in Ontario most likely
to have AIDS, as gay/bisexual men, these pros face more risk of
contracting HIV in their private lives than at work. We know of
many male pros who are HIV-positive, some of whom have been
positive since before they were eighteen.
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
Hostility to co-workers who are known or suspected to be
HIV-positive is very less common among gay male pros but is
particularly high among female prostitutes many of whom, despite much commitment to and experience with safe sex, are
afraid of "sharing clients" with a positive pro. As well, they
fear the undermining of all prostitutes' credibility as safe
sex practitioners (and an attendant decline in business, which
in turn means less bargaining power with would-be customers).
Prejudice against HIV-positive pros is possibly exaggerated by
a long-standing prejudice against those who worked while infected with any disease. They also share a very real fear of backlash: from the press, residents, assailants, police and the
Our earliest experiences in AIDS prevention education led
us to fear that the atmosphere in the industry was such that
HIV-positive women would have a very hard time disclosing their
antibody status to anyone, even to us, and that they would have
an equally hard time disclosing their profession to anyone
other than us. So far, with a very few exceptions, this fear
has been borne out.
The legal situation of HIV-positive prostitutes who continue to work is unclear but likely extremely vulnerable. We
have seen serious abuse of the rights of HIV-positive prostitutes in Ontario. A judge ordered a suspected HIV-positive
prostitute to be held in jail until she was tested before he
would pass sentence on her. Deceased Ottawa prostitute Donna
Jean Newman was hounded by the media when her HIV status was
revealed. And at least one woman has been held at the Metro
West Detention Centre beyond the end of her sentence because
she was HIV-positive.
On a number of occasions we have been requested to provide
HIV-positive representatives of our organizations to researchers, the media, organizations of people living with AIDS or
HIV (PLWAs) and other community-based AIDS education and service organizations. While we are fully sympathetic to the need
to involve PLWAs at all levels of decision-making that affect
them, because of the situation described above we are not able
to meet such requests at this time and do not expect we will be
able to in the near future.
Sex workers' clients' educational needs
While professional sex workers are consistently well informed,
and gay customers of male pros are relatively aware of the need
for safe sex, some of their clients (heterosexuals who are experimenting and gay men who are just coming out) and customers
of most of women, who comprise a larger, more transitory and
diverse group, are relatively ill-informed. Many pros report a
lessening of customer resistance to condoms in light of the
AIDS epidemic. But while they are obliged to wear them for com-

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
mercial sex, many straight men say that they don't use condoms
otherwise, claiming that they choose their partners carefully
Education aimed at sex workers' associates
Since most prostitutes who are HIV-positive contracted their
infection outside of the context of their work through sharing
needles or from unprotected sex with a spouse or lover it is
obviously helpful to develop good relations with their partners
and drug-using friends in order to reinforce prevention
As well as sex workers, their customers and partners, PSSP
AIDS educators are also in regular contact with people, mostly
men, who can best be described as hangers-on to the "street
scene." Many of them are homeless and/or involved in the drug
subculture and many are aware of and supportive of the project
and its staff. Once a rapport has been established with such
people, they can add a margin of safety to the work of AIDS
educators who are conducting street outreach alone.
Some of these men are friends or lovers of women who work
the street and occasionally they will ask PSSP educators for
condoms for their friends or partners. Others will ask for
themselves if they are present while condoms are being

Objective 3

Using the resource centre to motivate, train and equip
prostitutes as volunteer AIDS educators

Hold weekly outreach evaluation forums, involving volunteers to determine the impact we are having on the level
of understanding of AIDS and HIV within the sex work


Collect service-user feedback whenever possible and appropriate about the resource centre, their participation in
educational events and AIDS-prevention cultural activities
for sex-worker volunteers and potential volunteers

Problems and implications
We have observed a very consistent phenomenon with Maggie's
volunteers: they go through periods of regular involvement
interspersed with periods of absence. These variations are
dictated by both the demands of the business and of people's
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
personal lives. (See also Outcome of data collecting - 7.
Volunteer involvement p 27.)
Particular challenges facing single parents
We have observed particular limits on the participation of
women who are mothers. When they are in crisis, most mothers'
have immediate needs that are outside of our scope. We mostly
provide referrals to, and some advocacy with, other agencies.
Some agencies, Children's Aid Societies in particular, need
more advocacy and sensitization than we have so far been able
to provide. They appear to have unwritten policies that a woman
who is working as a prostitute is automatically unfit to be a
mother; and suspicion extends to mothers who work in other
parts of the sex trade as well. Estranged husbands and boyfriends are often well aware of the potential power this gives
them over former partners who are sex workers and use it to
threaten and manipulate some women, especially in battles over
child custody.
We have seen some positive developments among mothers who
are Maggie's service-users and volunteers, including the establishment of, and reliance on, friendships and networks for
child care in emergencies (especially crucial in times of
arrest or incarceration). Some childless women have helped out
with colleagues' kids in order to give the mothers some necessary time for themselves. Older, more established sex workers
who are mothers sometimes exchange shelter and money for babysitting services with younger women who are in need of such
support. We have also been able to encourage community support
for new mothers by organizing baby showers.
Many sex workers are mothers who, while not in crisis, are
nevertheless "single moms." For some, the sex business has been
financially good to them and they are successfully raising
their kids on their own and don't need or want any help. But
these women, who have full-time custody of school-aged children
and work in the business, are essentially working two jobs. All
the mothers we know are committed to their families and many
make choices about how they will do sex work based on the needs
of their families. Some choose to work in brothels rather than
take clients to their home or, if they want to maintain their
independence, to work the streets and insist that the client
provide a venue.
A number of active Maggie's members and volunteers are
mothers but most have adult children or do not have custody of
their children. It's little wonder that only very few of those
who are full-time mothers have time left over for Maggie's volunteer work, other than on-the-job information and resource
sharing -- like condom (or Bad Trick Sheet) distribution on
strolls, in club dressing rooms, or in brothels. Staff members
who have been mothers of younger kids have worked under enor-

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
mous stress which has been compounded by their constant fear of
loosing their kids if they are publicly identified as sex
workers as a result of their work with Maggie's.
Throughout the duration of this project we have seen Maggie's
volunteer base grow extensively. (See data gathered, Volunteer
involvement p. 27.) Volunteer orientation and appreciation
nights have been very successful. Many volunteers have become
involved, in a variety of ways, with helping us raise funds.
And the number of volunteers participating in outreach has far
exceeded our expectations.
In October 1992, one of Maggie's volunteers organized a
benefit art show at a local restaurant. More than fifty volunteers participated in the preparation and presentation of our
first fund raising event, The Half and Half Show, also held in
October 1992. In June 1993, 64 volunteers participated in the
organization and presentation of a three-day festival of fund
raising events.
On February 8, 1993, Maggie's held its first (since incorporation) annual general meeting at Oakham House. Thirty-five
enthusiastic members reviewed the organization's development
and discussed plans for its future and to elect a first official board consisting of 8 sex workers and 4 non-sex workers
(associate members).
Volunteers have been central to our ability to get introduced into new work environments in the sex industry (new, especially suburban, strolls; brothels and agencies; and networks
of independent escorts).
One piece of evidence as to the effectiveness of volunteer
and service-user information dissemination is the speed with
which we have observed information circulate on the street and
over the phones. Word on new products and problem-solving techniques usually spreads within a couple of days (not to use
flavoured condoms for intercourse because they may cause yeast
infections; the advantages and disadvantages of using two
rubbers at once; which new condoms are extra strength,
stretchier, smaller, etc.).
As the extent of prostitute-involvement in Maggie's, PSSP
and the resource centre and related activities increased we
began to see evidence that community service serves as a possible antidote to the isolation created by the criminalization
of sex work and the social stigma attached to being a sex worker. This process of community development has to be continued
and extended if we are to follow the gay community model of
using peer/community pressure to reinforce safe sex norms in
peoples' personal lives.
The resource centre has proven particularly useful in our
work with indoor/escort prostitutes. The biggest obstacle that
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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
AIDS educators have encountered in conducting outreach to this
segment of the prostitute population has been the isolation and
fearfulness of many such prostitutes, some of whom will not
even acknowledge that they are providing sexual services. The
prostitute who only conducts business over the telephone may be
even more isolated than his or her colleagues who compete for
territory and customers on the street. Once we began to tap
staff and volunteers' personal networks, having a central location provided the necessary meeting ground and assurance of
safety, to bring many escort prostitutes into regular contact
with Maggie's.
In future, consideration should be given to addressing the
needs of working prostitutes who are single mothers.

Objective 4

Using the resource centre to make information available

The PSSP resource centre provides Maggie's users, researchers and members of the public with access to a collection of printed, audio and visual materials addressing
AIDS/STDs and other health and safety concerns of prostitutes. It is open two days a week, and otherwise by


Most of our AIDS educators do in-service presentations to
agencies such as medical and legal clinics, community
centres, public health officials, parole officers, youthservices, hostels, drop-in and advocacy groups. As well,
AIDS educators are regularly interviewed by media, students and other researchers.

Maggie's service users have been consulted extensively by
media, social and medical service providers, policy advisors
and researchers. They have participated in the evaluation of
Maggie's materials and services and, most recently, 170 people
were interviewed for a study to assess the need for reducing
drug-related harm among prostitutes.
Recently, the van has allowing us to expand these activities to a wider area -- outlying areas of Metro Toronto, St.
Catherines, Niagara Falls, and Hamilton, initially.
A number of programs training social service professionals
regularly refer students to us for their research and request
speakers for classrooms. Feed back from these individuals has
been universally positive although only a few of these students

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
and researchers are diligent about providing us with copies of
their work, unfortunately.
Both the resource centre and the Maggie's newsletter have
aided in the distribution of our health promotion materials
through facilitating regular contact with AIDS service
organizations and other community groups and agencies -- in the
Ontario AIDS Network and the Canadian AIDS Society as well as
among a number of Toronto, Metro, and neighbourhood coalitions
and networks. There has been a steady demand for our materials
in spite of not having had the resources to promote them
Our educational materials, particularly our buttons and
our famous "How to Have Safe Sex" pamphlet, are always very
popular. As well, displays and resources from the centre are
often available to the public at community events like fall
fairs, International Women's Day, AIDS Awareness Week events,
international AIDS and prostitutes conferences (Montreal,
Amsterdam, Berlin), local "Take Back the Night"(anti-violence
against women) marches in addition to events targeted
specifically at Toronto-area sex workers.

The management process used in program implementation
Rationale for a staff collective

Section 4.1, in the principles and beliefs section of the
Maggie's Policy and Procedures Manual says:
Maggie's is founded on the belief that in order to improve
our circumstances, sex workers must take the power to
control our own destinies. Therefore Maggie's exists first
and foremost as an organization for sex workers that is
controlled by sex workers.
It follows logically from this conviction that Maggie's would
also choose a collective staff decision-making structure. Such
a structure places maximum responsibility for the work in the
hands of those who do it and, in this case in the hands of sex
workers -- people drawn from the constituency of the project
who are thus hopefully accountable to that constituency.
Workings of the staff collective
The project was administered by a staff member who was one
member of a team of other educators and administrators.
The staff collective divided up and oversaw labour amongst
its members and made other decisions collectively at weekly
meetings. As the work of members of the staff collective became
increasingly specialized, a sub-group of the collective func-

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
tioned as the staff collective's executive.
The Policy and Procedures Manual (appendix D) is the
framework within which the membership of Maggie's, particularly
its staff, works. The manual includes sections on the membership and the board of directors. But 17 of its 25 sections
apply specifically to the staff collective. They deal with:
recruiting, orientation and training, probation, performance
evaluations, personnel records, rules of conduct, disciplinary
action, termination, grievances, working conditions, salary,
overtime, benefits, sick leave, parenting leave, vacation, and
leaves of absence.
The staff collective decision-making and accountability structure has both strengths and weaknesses; sometimes the same
factor can be both a strength and a weakness.
This structure allows a group to draw on the abilities and
perspectives of a number of people with very different experiences. This diversity sometimes creates problems with people
getting along with, and even understanding, one another. On the
other hand it puts a wide variety of skills and abilities at
the group's disposal. It affords the opportunity to include sex
workers whose abilities are often traditionally discounted
which encourages individual staff members to develop greater
confidence and self-esteem -- although this can sometimes seem
to detract from pressing business of the group, it is almost
always an investment worth making.
While collectives work best when every member is more or
less contributing equally, not everyone is necessarily able to
contribute to collective process at the same level. This is
particularly true when some staff have different time obligations (half-time, full-time) and other factors limiting the
amount or kinds of responsibility they can undertake.
Over the course of the project, this fact probably precipitated the most significant change in structure of the collective. Eventually, it became apparent that the work load was too
much for the entire group to monitor all of it. A core of staff
members who had more experience and greater responsibility were
designated by the collective to function as its executive (operating collectively). Soon the increasing division of labour
caused the formation of other sub-groups, which also operate
collectively, in different areas of specialization, some of
which are workplace specific (street, dancer or escort outreach) while others are service-specific (bad date, courtwatch,
or newsletter committees).

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Assessment of staff
Training and Orientation

In this initial phase of the PSSP resource centre neither .
administrative nor AIDS education staff had substantial training or orientation opportunities. This might have been
disastrous for the project if it had not been for the fact that
staff have been consistently recruited from its volunteer base.
Some early training in group process was very helpful and
would have been useful to repeat as staff turned over. New educators were each encouraged to take advantage of the City of
Toronto Department of Public Health's "Train the Trainer" program and most did. Most often such staff found themselves
thrust into the position of having to try to educate participants and trainers alike out of their misconceptions about sex
work and sex workers. This problem is likely to arise in any
gathering that brings together people from a wide variety of
life experiences with people from the sex trade. Gaining this
experience in as sympathetic a setting as a "Train the trainer"
workshop is almost as useful as the content of the course
itself to most new staff. As well, one of our senior staff
participated as a resource person in an advanced "Train the
Trainer" course.
Involvement in development and implementation of program
Because of the collective decision-making structure of
Maggie's, staff involvement in development and implementation
of the program was virtually absolute. Staff were chosen
because of their expertise in sex work and safe sex as well as
their familiarity with Maggie's and their willingness to work
collectively, with the attendant rights and responsibilities
that accompany such worker-control of the program.
Staff problems
Staff problems were dealt with initially by the individual
staff member or members, then by the staff collective (or
executive, once it existed). When problems needed help or
expertise beyond what was available within the staff collective's own resources, the board was consulted and their
resources were drawn upon.
Staff's assessment of the project and their experiences
Staff collective
While the administrator remained constant throughout the three
years of the project, there was a fairly high level of staff

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
turn-over among educators (and, from time to time, a neardebilitating level of conflict and controversy within the staff
collective) over issues of accountability and trust among staff
After her contract was terminated, one former member of
staff brought her dissatisfaction with fellow-staff members
into the public arena. Other conflicts were less public but no
less emotionally draining. Over time these conflicts took their
toll on a number of key individuals as well as on the
It is clear from the Maggie's experience that the collective decision-making process, while extremely satisfying to
staff who are already capable and committed can be extremely
challenging for newer people. And that some people, regardless
of ability or commitment, are simply not suited to this way of
working with others, establishing accountability and making
Many of the problems experienced by workers throughout the
sex industry are also experienced by project staff drawn from
among workers in the industry. Many independent-minded people
are drawn to work in the sex industry because they don't have
to work with others, conform to a schedule, meet deadlines,
etc. Some such people are very suited to our more unsupervised
and flexible ways of working, while, at the same time, they
find the collective structure, paper work, etc. too confining.
Because of our commitment to peer control, all of the things
that impede our ability to conduct AIDS-prevention education
(criminal charges, competitiveness, bad dates, lack of literacy
skills, whore-phobia, drug-use, etc.) are also, or have been,
problems for members of the staff. Sex workers who are members
or supporters of Maggie's have even gone missing or been
murdered. This kind of development can have a very disturbing
effect in a service agency where the bonds are semi-commercial
(worker/client); but in a community organization made up of
peers (colleagues and friends) it can be even more devastating.
One of the factors that has hampered Maggie's staff collective in sorting out some of its difficulties is that there
is no other group or project quite like us anywhere nearby
(with the demise of the California Prostitutes' Education Project there is no other sex-worker-controlled STD-prevention
project in North America). Thus the organization and its members must take every opportunity to network, share with and
learn from similar projects elsewhere in the world (especially
Europe and Australia). While international conferences may not
be funded because they are a luxury to most AIDS service organizations, such gatherings of prostitute AIDS educators and
rights advocates are an important source for inspiration,
practical information and support for a project like ours.
The initial phase of developing the PSSP resource centre
was also hampered by a lack of stability in much of the pro-

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
ject's funding. This was due to the fact that Maggie's was both
a new organization and one that represented a "suspect" group.
The first factor is an inevitable problem but the latter factor
meant that we were held to an even higher standard than are
most service organizations which are just getting off the
ground. The result of that was that more pressure was added to
an already extreme level of staff stress.
The project tended to respond to this pressure by taking
on a greater and greater work load -- in order to identify and
meet the important health and safety needs of our constituency
and also to prove our ability to do so. Which in turn resulted
in a tendency to lag behind in fulfilling our obligations to
record, analyze and otherwise document the process and progress
of the project. All of this contributed to even further stress
on the staff collective and its members. Over the years many
people (including single parents, disabled people and senior
staff members) had to quit jobs at Maggie's due to the impact
of this stress on their health.
In the future, ways must be found to make time for staff
training, development and support and planning must ensure that
both the project's service-delivery and the documentation workloads are reasonable.
Project Administrator
The peer nature of the project is so central to it that any
less experience with sex work than the initial administrator
had would have presented a serious obstacle her ability to work
on the project. More sex work experience would have been preferable and, in fact, would have been essential were it not for
the administrator's previous experience as a volunteer with
Even within the context of staff collective and board of
directors' support, the administrator felt that her ability to
cope with the myriad demands of the job -- once the resource
centre was established and began to develop its potential -was stretched to the limit. Funding to hire others to fulfil
some of the administrative tasks, particularly people with
special skills, such as financial and computer expertise, could
have alleviated this problem, especially if such people had sex
work experience (or, failing that, if they could be hired on
part-time contracts without being a part of the staff
collective decision-making process).
AIDS Educators
The data collection forms that we used throughout most of the
project were quite complex. They were re-designed to improve
clarity a couple of times. It inevitably took new AIDS educators a while to adjust to the demands of data collection and

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
The schedule we needed to keep in order to effectively
deliver AIDS-prevention information to our colleagues in the
sex industry (evenings and night shift) tended to conflict with
the timing of demands from AIDS service organizations, social
service agencies and funding bodies (mornings and day shift). A
number of staff experienced increased stress and ill-effects on
their health from working too many double shifts as a result of
such conflicts.
This, plus the fact that a great deal of the average, uninformed person's curiosity about prostitution or sex workers
is voyeuristic or prurient, contributed to a reluctance on the
part of numerous staff to participate in such meetings ("dog
and pony shows").
PSSP educators also found the nature of their jobs shifting as the resource centre "took off." It evolved from a focus
on one-on-one AIDS education to an emphasis on recruiting,
training and supporting Maggie's members and volunteers to conduct AIDS education. Within this area of work more specialized
jobs had to be filled, too, with responsibilities evolving into
jobs like materials production, skills sharing (especially as
regards computer skills) and event organizing.

Other results emahating from the project

Over the course of establishing the PSSP resource centre we
realized that we were identifying may health promotion needs
that went beyond STD/AIDS prevention. Most of them have been
outlined in the course of this report in terms of their relation to AIDS-prevention education. One of the most difficult
areas is that of drug-related harm.
Drug issues
From the very beginning of this project, PSSP AIDS educators
saw evidence of increased "crack" use and of the adverse
effects of long-term use on street prostitutes on several of
the strolls and in some bars. Many users seem to be chronic;
some constitute a core who are constantly destitute while
others seem to come and go through periods of increased and
decreased problems -- some with the help of drug-treatment
resources, others with drug-substitution, change in life situation or other personal strategies. These are still preliminary
observations; much more information about patterns of drug use
and related harm will be available once we have finished analyzing the results of our study of the need to reduce drug- related harm among sex workers who use drugs.
Among those to whom we have done AIDS-prevention outreach
are an increasing number of women who are marginally employed

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
in prostitution within the crack-using population. They include
a significant number who are long-term sex workers but who do
not necessarily identify, or conduct their work, as professionals. They are usually hard to communicate with due to the fact
that they are either "high" or consumed with the need to "get
high." They are among the most needy people we see: not only
can they not afford condoms, but their needs run the gamut from
food and shelter to drug rehab to pregnancy support. We were
unable to determine whether there are more of these women as a
result of "crack" becoming more wide-spread or whether we
simply we getting to know more of them over time.
The fact that areas frequented by "crack" users and dealers expanded to encompass traditional strolls brought forth
complaints from neighbours and non-using sex workers alike,
with conflicts becoming commonplace and very bitter in some
instances. These dynamics aggravate the struggles over "turf"
that tended to become acute with the spring influx. Addicts are
blamed by other pros for bringing prices down in these areas.
Adding to the tension is the fact that crack users who take up
prostitution to support their habit have a wide range of needs
(in addition to safe sex information) and are not seen as peers
(professionals) by many of the women who have worked the
strolls for years. There have also recently been conflicts
between crack users and heroin users in some areas formerly
frequented by heroin users.
Our first effort to deal with the needs of the drug-using
service users of Maggie's was facilitating Straight Work, a
support group for sex workers dealing with addiction. It was
initially useful to a small mixed group of women and men,
indoor and street pros, who had problems with a variety of
drugs including alcohol; it did not, however, seem to appeal to
any of the regular crack users we knew. People mired in serious
drug-related problems seemed to be in too much of a crisis most
of the time to be able to participate in a regularly scheduled
event. Those who benefitted from it used it essentially as a
weekly support group for awhile until the demands of competing
for summer business and the departure of the staff member who
had co-ordinated it caused a waning of interest.
In the summer of 1991, we shot footage for a video about
the project, Communicating: for the Purpose. Participants in
the video were among the neediest of the women we saw regularly
and it became apparent during their interviews that many of
them were dealing with drug problems. Several of them expressed
an interest in working on a video about sex work and addiction
and two years later interest remains high in the proposal even
though we have had neither the time nor the resources to do
more than some preliminary planning and experimenting (other
than collecting the footage from Communicating).
We also found that many of the addicted prostitutes with
whom we had contact were extremely concerned about their treat- 49 -

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
ment options once it was no longer possible for Ontarions to
travel out of the province for treatment at Ontario Health
Insurance Plan's expense. In some cases much of their time was
consumed with the search for alternatives to seeking treatment
outside of Ontario at their own expense.
We look forward to analyzing and publishing the results of
our first foray into peer-controlled research -- a study of the
need to reduce drug-related harm among sex workers who use
7. Summary and Conclusions
"Experience has confirmed what women have been saying all
along: they are less able than men to protect themselves from
HIV infection by a simple act of will than men are. Wherever
women are culturally and economically subordinate to men, they
cannot control or even negotiate safe sex, including condom use
and lifelong mutual fidelity ••.• For women, the agenda is to
change the circumstances in which sex takes place. Over the
long run this needs to be done through the improvement of their
educational, legal and economic status, and in the short term
through stratagems for circumventing their subordination. For
example prostitutes have been organized to raise their prices
simultaneously so they can afford to turn away clients who
refuse condom use. This is a particularly useful stratagem
because it enhances women's agency and control rather than
leaving them passive."
Michael H. Merson, Director of World Health
Organization's Global Program on AIDS in
"Slowing the Spread of HIV: Agenda for the
1990s" (Science, May 28, 1993)
This project has been highly successful at reaching sex workers
with information and resources to AIDS and STD-prevention. This
success can largely be attributed to the peer-controlled nature
of the project.
Another benefit of the peer-nature of the project is that
prostitutes are a logical point of contact for educating many
people who may be at relatively high risk for STDs, including
HIV, and who may not otherwise receive such specific information and training in STD/AIDS prevention. Thus AIDS-prevention
becomes a tool for both community and self-esteem building
among sex workers.
One of the most significant barriers to delivering AIDSprevention and other health-promotion information to sex
workers is the laws governing sex work. People who are in
actual or possible legal jeopardy -- and those who fear that
they are or may be -- are extremely reluctant to trust anyone,
- 50 -

PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
including their peers. The criminalization of activities sur-·
rounding prostitution is not just a barrier to AIDS education;
it is a barrier to community involvement generally.
The criminalization of prostitution serves to keep sex
workers' isolated. In addition to breaking down community
contact by incarcerating them, prostitutes are driven from
their homes, deprived of their children, deprived of the protection of the law and subjected to the hostility of law
enforcement officials instead, and attacked by their neighbours
and by total strangers. It is little wonder some turn to drugs
and many are discouraged from revealing their occupation to
outsiders, even their own doctors. This isolation is a serious
barrier to sex workers gaining access to health care and social
Many non-prostitutes would probably have negative or hostile attitude towards sex work because of moralism, even if
prostitution-related activities were not criminalized. But the
fact that social disapproval is expressed in the form of criminal sanctions seems to encourage lawlessness on the part of
some who see laws against prostitutes as permission to threaten, harass, verbally abuse, physically assault and rape prostitutes. These forms of violence are another significant barrier
to health promotion in general and AIDS-prevention in
Because of the seriousness of these barriers to AIDS-prevention, Maggie's members and service users have identified
violence and lack of legal resources as priorities to address
in developing Maggie's programs.

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
8. Recommendations

To foster peer-controlled prostitute organizations to
provide education and support for STD-prevention among


To foster and fund peer-controlled prostitute organizations to conduct violence prevention programs for prostitutes and to offer support to prostitutes who are
victims of violence.


To promote the establishment, by peer-controlled prostitute organizations, of computer data bases of known
assailants (organized by work venue, description,
telephone numbers, licence plate numbers, etc) to be
available by telephone 24 hours-per-day.


To fund peer-controlled prostitute organizations to provide education and support for prostitutes in need of
legal resources (information, bail funds, child care,
etc. ) .


To promote the development of independent, civilian bodies
and procedures for review of complaints of police misconduct and abuse.


To remove barriers preventing prostitutes from conducting
STD-prevention education among sex workers in correctional
facilities, including the regulation that forbids "known
prostitutes" from visiting other prostitutes in jail.


To decriminalize prostitution immediately; beginning with
instructing local police forces not to enforce laws
against activities surrounding prostitution until the laws
can be repealed.


To criminalize the entrapment of prostitutes by police.


To develop special police units trained to deal with
violent and sexual assaults on prostitutes and ensure that
they deal with all such assaults.


To educate all members of all police forces that violent
and sexual assaults of prostitutes are no different from
violent or sexual assaults on anyone else.

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report

To guarantee that the protection of anonymity of victims
of sexual crimes be available throughout case proceedings
whether they be criminal proceedings or Police Act


To ensure that prostitutes reporting assaults to the
police be immune from any current or outstanding charges
related to prostitution or any other charges considered to
be minor in nature.


To ensure that, when dealing with reports of domestic
violence where a prostitute is involved, the police press
charges using the assault laws rather than charging the
assailant with living on the avails.


That every attempt be made to deal with incidents of
police assaults against prostitutes through the Criminal
Code of Canada and appropriate provincial policing
legislation just like any case of assault which does not
involve either a police officer or prostitute.


To instruct police forces to treat complaints from
residents concerning littering and noise as such.
Disturbing the peace charges for noise are usually
preceded by a warning Public indecency and littering laws
should not be used to target prostitutes but to solve
directly the source of the resident's complaint.


To foster and fund peer-controlled prostitute organizations to provide programs and other support to reduce
drug-related harm among prostitutes.


To fund peer-controlled prostitute organizations to conduct research on prostitutes and prostitution.


To amend the law so that police can no longer press
charges for narcotics traces in syringes.


To fund peer-controlled prostitute organizations to engage
in public and service-agency education in order to
destigmatize prostitution and get rid of the victim
stereotype of prostitutes.


To promote the establishment, by peer-controlled prostitute organizations, of liaisons with relevant child
welfare authorities.

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PSSP Resource Centre - Final Report
Appendix A
- boyfriend keeps giving her yeast infections; he won't use
- ditched her works when approached by the cops
- wants condoms to give to her kid brother; doesn't want How to
Have Safer Sex -- "it's too much for him"
- wishes we gave out samples of non-oxynol-9
- can't carry too many condoms in case cops stop her
- interested in getting into a programme; did not like NA
- she and her man have finally found housing
- made date wait while she grabbed safes; wanted non-lubed
- two girls who did not have many safes left took Beyond but said
that they'd have to double them up
- she was tested by her doctor but never went back for results
- an old regular has started to bug her for no-condom sex
- likes those new thick safes we got
- said restaurant manager kicked all ho's out last weekend for no
reason; wants to come by the centre to talk about it
- cold night; no jacket; asked for money for coffee
- lost a male friend to AIDS; was well-informed by ACT
- bar workers: talked about dancing/working in small towns (druggists with condoms behind the counter); found herself at a stag
without condoms because her boyfriend had taken them out of her
purse ( ! ) ; risks for table dancers ( cus·tomers trying to lick
girls); hopes we get a bad trick list for in-door workers
- approached by a young male customer who had been told by one of
the girls that I had safes; she'd given him a pamphlet
- transsexual talked about being in segregation in a male jail
- guy wanted to know where all the girls were; there was a sweep
in progress
- gave condoms to four young guys at Dundas and Sherbourne but
only one copy of the pamphlet so they would share it and read
info out loud which they were doing as I left
- moved from one stroll to another to get away from her old
- at first didn't want anything (Americans; I think they thought
I was a religious nut or something) until they saw other girls
take stuff
- didn't take many safes "because I can't bring them home"
- why don't we have samples of non-oxynol 9
- suggested we make a new button to go with the video
- hadn't seen her in a long time -- she'd been in the West
- has her own safes does not like any of our brands; takes BTS
- so much heat she can't pick up her regular
- her sister will take care of her kids while she's in Vanier
- no to pulling out with boyfriend
- did not know HIV was in blood as well as cum

54 -

- no jacket or shoes (left them at a friend's place?); gave her
street car fare
- lots of requests for flavoured safes (for BJ's)
- guy looking for his lady; they've been kicked out and are
homeless again
- another cab driver who gets quite a few girls in her cab and so
helps distribute
- long discussion about trying to fit into the straight world, ie
- back dancing after getting her degree
- will not be "out" in front of other strippers but hinted to me
- others who strip only: lack of safe sex info when she worked in
the US; boyfriend is ex-junkie, talked about negotiating safer
sex with him; adequately informed but still takes risks because
she hates safes; discussed her family's attitude to her work;
did not know why to use safes for blow jobs or about nonoxynol-9 in case of condom failure.
- discussed a baby shower for another pro who is pregnant
- Beyond condoms are no good
- saw a new girl hitchhiking at around 4 am; she couldn't believe
her luck in scoring condoms, etc. at this hour
- a girl I hadn't seen before but she knew of our Bad Trick
Sheet; invited her to the volunteer meeting
- very high; talked about her son and Children's Aid
- new girl took flavoured condoms but wouldn't take BTS
- "finally a newsletter!" -- thought we needed a joke page
- has to do weekends in jail and has a night curfew
- she's in Communicating ... but still hasn't seen it
- everyone she knows has been charged lately -- including her
- heard about our Christmas party; invited her to bring her son
to the kids' party
- said her doctor spent a long time with her talking about HIV,
other STDs and condom use
- talked about hep B, condoms for sucking; she doesn't do blows
- lots of girls tonight wanted to talk about TV show on pros
- she was hungry; I treated her to dinner and we talked about her
time in mental hospitals and jails
- she never talks but tonight she told me that she's leaving town
this weekend
- told her douching will not kill HIV; info about non-oxynol-9
- customer did not know not to use oil-based lubes
- boyfriend believes he's immune because he's tested negative
despite having taken risks
- guy tried to give me a dirty fit; thought I was The Works
- guy went back to the centre to view Communicating: for the
Purpose while his girlfriend did a date

PSSP Outreach Record

COMMENTS: (specific discussions about AIDS/HIV, I
referrals, service needs, the law, kinds of information i
feedback on Maggie's, condoms and materials.)

Outreach Worker: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
StrolVLocation: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __

Date: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ lime: _ _ _ __
Total Contacts




Sex workers




Total Sex workers














needle info

Maggie's 'info*



(* specify in comments)









Name: ________________
For the week of: _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __
total wkly. hrs.


Time: (in/out) hrs.



aprox. # of contacts

(# of new & repeat contacts, conversations, #'s of materials distributed, etc.)

Admi n. /Paperwork/ Materials production
Description of work


Time: (in/out) hrs.


(indicate "I" for internal; "E" for External)


Time: (in/out) hrs.




(Other work, observations, outreach comments, etc. for this week)

presentation (Y or N)
# of people present

Appendix C
Overview of Outreach Statistics
Prostitutes' Safe Sex Project









First Quarter: 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93

Apr/90 156








May/90 158








Jun/90 194








Totals 508






Second Quarter: 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93

Jul/90 248








Aug/90 517








Sep/90 386















Third Quarter: 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93

Oct/90 305








Nov/90 248








Dec/90 202















Fourth Quarter: 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93

Jan/91 185








Feb/91 108








Mar/91 108











Full Yr 2,815 10,906








Increase in contacts: 135% from 90/91 to 91/92, 256% from 91/92 to 92/93
ncrease in condoms: 223% from 90/91 to 91/92, 207% from 91/92 to 92/93