“The Expulsion of Sex Workers from Vancouver’s

West End, 1975-1985: A Cautionary Tale” 


Long reputed to be the “prostitution capital of Canada,” Vancouver, British Columbia has been at the centre of legal and political debate, policing, media analysis, and policy-making about sex work for more than a century. From 1975 to 1985, a heterogeneous, pimp-free community of male, female, and transsexual prostitutes lived and worked on-and-around Davie Street in the city’s West End. Their presence sparked a vigorous backlash, including vigilante action, from multiple stake-holders such as CROWE (Concerned Residents of the West End) intent on transforming the port town into a “world class city” and venerable host of “Expo 1986.” Indeed, “clean-up” and “renewal” agendas have re-surfaced in preparation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Since 1975, more than 70 sex workers have been murdered in Vancouver. Our research project explores the economic, socio-legal, spatial, and political conditions that coalesced, more than 25 years ago, to normalize harassment, intimidation, and violence against prostitutes.

 

The project is generously funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (2007-2011), in conjunction with the University of British Columbia, Department of Sociology & Women’s and Gender Studies Program.

 
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