Note: Our original statement was published to our Instagram on March 18th, 2021.
Wendy, our Community Engagement Coordinator, had the opportunity to speak with Alison Clancey, SWAN’s Executive Director, to find out more about the organization and their ongoing initiatives.
SWAN provides many resources for im/migrant women who are involved with sex work. This includes providing translation services, legal and immigration support, counseling services, access to sexual health, and supporting safety and violence matters.
I asked Alison what is one of the biggest challenges that SWAN Vancouver faces.
SWAN’s greatest challenge is the inability to address violence perpetrated against the women due to Canada’s laws and policies that criminalize and impede them from reporting violence. Because of the immigration and the criminal justice systems, im/migrant sex workers cannot report violence to the authorities without risking arrest, detention, and deportation. We encourage you to watch this short video on the Harms of Anti-Trafficking initiatives, which explains the misrepresentation of all im/migrant sex workers as trafficking victims (they’re not) and initiatives that do more harm than good:
To break down stereotypes of im/migrant women, SWAN has also been working on creating a community-based e-magazine. The magazine will be a space for women who use their services to express themselves through art and writing, and provide a safe platform to showcase their talents and amplify their voices.
SWAN has been operating and providing services since 2002. During the week of the Atlantic Spa Shooting, the organization received more public interest and donations that they have ever received during their entire 19 years in operation. Unfortunately, the violence im/migrant sex workers face is not new. We can help by continuing the conversation on destigmatizating sex work and our donations, and not only when tragedy occurs.
We want to extend our thanks and gratitude to SWAN Vancouver and their ongoing hard work in making our community and the lives of im/migrant women safer.
Learn more about SWAN Vancouver here.