Sex talk

Feb 26th, 2015

Janet Harron

Sex talk

Recent changes to Canada’s prostitution laws have sparked new discussions about sex work as have recent reports of several St. John’s sex workers being raped.

The Faculty of Arts’ Department of Gender Studies believes that it is important to encourage informed conversations about sex work. In this spirit, they are hosting a three- day event, Sex Work: Soliciting Reflections, from March 5 to 7 that will contribute to ongoing community dialogues through a series of activities with a "town-hall" feel.

“People tend to form strong opinions about sex work, even when they don’t know the facts. But we can’t address the violence that sex workers face if we are basing our opinions and policies on assumptions. We owe it to sex workers in our community to get informed about their lived realities. We need to get the conversation going. Hence our slogan: “Let’s talk sex work,” says Natalie Duchesne, a lecturer in the department.

“By offering a variety of activities we hope to reach different kinds of audiences: the general public, students and faculty, and the community organizing sector. "

Events include a keynote address from Dr. Emily van der Meulen of Ryerson University on Advancing a Sex-Work-is-Work Paradigm: Sex Workers’ Reflections on Laws and Labour, various film screenings, a presentation on the rescue industry and panel discussions by community groups and gender students.. Topics to be addressed include sex workers rights, the myths and realities of human trafficking, and potential policy options for sex work in Canada.

The organizers plan on creating a space where university students and faculty as well as members of the St. John’s community can gather to learn about the realities of sex work, challenge old assumptions, and participate in collective reflection.

A full schedule can be found at and all events will be listed on today.mun and the Faculty of Arts website.