Who uses WISH?
Who is a street-based sex worker?
Women in the street-based sex trade come from various walks of life.
Each woman is an individual with her own unique story. However, some common themes run through the herstories of WISH participants. Poverty, cyclical violence and addiction are some such themes.
Over 50% of WISH participants are indigenous women who are over-represented in street-based sex work and have experienced severe trauma related to colonization and the residential school experience.
Though they face incredible challenges, women in the WISH community are resilient, intelligent and strong. They are warriors surviving, creating, building community and caring for each other in a society that does everything possible to deny them their voices and their humanity.
Why is there a need for a place like WISH?
The 2012 Missing Women’s Inquiry brought the tragic plight of street-based, sex-working women to the public’s attention.
In a criminalized environment, sex-working women face alarming rates of violence and structural barriers to health care and other supports.
Violence against sex workers often goes unreported for a variety of reasons: Mistrust of authorities, stigma and shame, a pervasive sense that they will not be taken seriously and, worse, an internalized belief that violence is just ‘part of the job’. In an atmosphere of compassion and trust, sex-working women can thrive, find safety and connect with others who care.
WISH is exclusively for self-identified women in sex work. Among peers, women know that they will not be harmed or judged for the way they are currently meeting their basic needs.
In a place where they are valued, sex-working women, who are routinely denied a sense of dignity and self-worth, can begin to access opportunities to make healthier, more positive choices. They can begin to enhance the quality of their lives.