Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Legal Brothels, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Ellen Woodsworth and Me

Legal Brothels, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Ellen Woodsworth and me

Last Saturday afternoon, in a open candidate debate in the Carnegie Centre on homelessness, Jamie Lee Hamilton chided me in front of the audience for not adopting Ellen Woodsworth’s opinions on further legalizing prostitution which means legal brothels, presumably in time for the Olympics. As this was done in public and I didn’t get a chance to reply in public then I will reply now.
In the Work Less Party we don’t necessarily agree on this issue. In fact, we don’t agree at all. We don’t have to. If I am elected mayor I will resist firmly and passionately any attempt to open legal brothels in this city. I have duly noted some of the people who support Jamie Lee Hamilton’s bid for the Parks Board, but does this mean these supporters necessarily also support her business interests as a sex trade worker in her bid for legal brothels? I think there should be some clarification on this, especially from Ellen Woodsworth and Adriane Carr. But wait a minute. What about all of the coalition members running in the municipal election which includes Vision, Cope, and the Green Party? And why should the NPA be excluded? Do these members of parties all support legal brothels, presumably in time for the Olympics? I am personally very fond of Adriane Carr and admire some of her work. However, this question is not about fondness or friendship; it is about something fundamental that is chewing away at our society like a dog knawing on a bone. It is lack of respect for women.
When I was serving time in the women’s prison in Burnaby for protesting the proposed clear cutting of the Elaho Valley my daughter Marian was hired by SAVE THE CHILDREN to research the experiences of young aboriginal youth in the sex trade, and fashion these experiences into a book for the government of Canada to ponder. It was published under the title “Sacred Lives”. My daughter’s research showed that the average age of aboriginal children entering the sex trade was fourteen years.
There is something so barbaric about this treatment of children, the fact that “kiddie strolls” still exists in Vancouver, that a prominent section of society thinks that might be okay if prostitution were only made safer. I have heard all the arguments surrounding this issues from the other side, the claims that that those who have a business interest in promoting brothels are not interested in prostituting children, only making things safe for adult women.
It doesn’t work this way. Men who seek prostitutes are particularly fond of young girls, the younger the better. We know that drinkers can find drinking places after hours and so can Johns find the youngest of girls after hours. We know that pimps already regularly patrol the malls and school yards, even elementary school yards looking for the freshest of young girls who can be lured with drugs, a few clothes, good times and once addicted, the girls are usually lost. We need to confront our politicians who support legal brothels and I think aboriginal women, whose daughters are particularly at risk, but all mothers of daughters should lead the way in this questioning. It is not too late. The election is not until Saturday. And oh yes. The government is still pondering “Sacred Lives”. On a dusty shelf somewhere in Ottawa.


  1. Dear Betty,

    I enjoy reading your blog.

    Could I interview you for
    Herizons magazine? I will
    ask you about the civic election,
    the Work Less Party, feminism
    and more.

    I live teach and write in
    downtown Vancouver and wonder if we
    could meet for coffee or...
    a telephone interview.

    My phone number is 604-689-7822.
    I will also try to reach you
    at 683-8672. Many thanks,
    Janet Nicol
    (For samples of my writing
    for Herizons and other publications,
    visit my blog at

  2. Anonymous3:35 PM


    I am so happy that you are taking such a strong stance on this issue! You are supported by many.

    STANDing in Solidarity

  3. HI BETTY,
    WHen will you r next blog be? I don't want ot miss it,

  4. Anonymous8:33 AM


    I'm a male sex-worker who is not at all exploited, who enjoys his work and who helps a lot of people. I know many empowered adult women who are in the same situation as me. We do our work because we like it and it happens to pay very well.

    Although I generally think Jamie Lee is a supreme flake and it saddens me that the Green Party accepted her as a candidate again, I have to agree with her on this issue of legalized brothels and I think that you are way off the mark on this one.

    Because prostitution is prohibited it creates situations that are unsafe for women and where children are exploited. It also makes it very uncomfortable for all of us hard working tax paying sex-workers who are in the business by our own free will. There's always the threat that we will get busted.

    Legalization and regulation of this huge industry would go a long way to solving these problems.

    Child prostitution is not caused by prostitution but rather poverty.

  5. Anonymous2:13 PM

    Jamie Lee Scamilton (as she is called) is not to be worried about.

    Notable people do not take her seriously.