Transitions: Sex Work Transitioning, Retiring, and Exiting

In an effort to address the lack of supports for women wanting to reduce their reliance on sex economies, BWSS is excited to launch Transitions, a new program that will support women who are wishing to transition, retire or exit from sex economies.

Considering that our work is situated within the context of the Canadian settler state, we recognize that women’s lived experiences in sex economies are shaped by the factors of colonialism, patriarchy and capitalism. As a result, women’s realities range from those of enterprise to exploitation, with varying levels of choice and agency.

Through individualized programming that builds capacity, Transitions will hold a stigma free space for women’s diverse experiences to create pathways for different opportunities at a pace women are comfortable with. We take a rights based approach and meet women where they are at to best identify their needs, goals and challenges.

BWSS has a long history housing of staff and volunteers who are formerly and currently engaged in sex economies. Transitions will be informed by experiential voices, as well as adaptable to the needs of participants in the program.

Our continuous intake process helps women find what she requires for her individual situation and needs. Women can self-refer themselves to the program by contacting Marina, our Transitions Service Co-ordinator, at 604-808-4378 or by emailing transitions@bwss.org. If you are a service provider and would like to refer a woman to our program, please contact Marina to receive our external referral form.

With the launch of Transitions, we are conducting a survey for front line workers in women’s, community and anti-violence organizations in regards to providing services for women engaged in sex economies. It is our hope that with this survey, we can better understand how other organizations are supporting women engaged in sex economies, identify gaps in services being provided, and deepen our understanding on how to work with other organizations in order to best meet the needs of women wanting to reduce their reliance on sex economies.

Take the Survey!

Those who take the survey will also be entered into a draw for a gift certificate from My Sister’s Closet, a social enterprise of Battered Women’s Support Services.

To inquire about training for front line workers email endingviolence@bwss.org

Transistions

About the facilitators

Marina: Transitions Service Co-ordinator

Marina BocharMarina is a cis-gendered settler with Romanian, Ukrainian and Polish working class roots, who is currently living out her ancestor’s settlement on Turtle Island. For the first 18 years of her life she lived as an uninvited guest on Enoch Cree land, which is often referred to as Edmonton.

For the last 6 years she has been living, learning and working on the unceded and occupied land of the Coast Salish peoples, specifically the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Watuth nations.

Marina approaches social justice work through an anti-oppressive and intersectional lens which is rooted in the principle of “by us, for us.” Marina also takes into consideration what it means to be doing anti-violence work on land that continues to be occupied without consent and how the history and impacts of ongoing colonization contribute to violence against women and shapes the experiences of many women involved in sex economies.

Before joining the BWSS team, Marina worked at the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre at the University of British Columbia as well as the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre. Within these roles, she did a mixture of outreach, frontline support work, and advocacy. She brings with her support skills that are trauma-informed, survivor centered and low barrier. She is excited to transfer her experience into the Transitions program to support a diversity of women who are engaged in sex economies and thinking about or wishing to reduce their reliance on sex work.

Although her motivation for this work comes from various aspects of her life, Marina was first inspired to engage in justice for sex workers from the lived experiences of her great aunt. From a young age, Marina witnessed the isolation and negative effects of stigma attached to those who engage in sex economies. She is forever indebted to her aunt who showed her just how resilient sex workers are and the power of women unapologetically standing in their truth.

In addition to her enthusiasm of being a part of the Metro Vancouver Sex Work Exiting, Transitioning & Retiring Consortium, Marina is humbled by the incredible work being done at BWSS. She is looking forward to all that will come from being a part of such a strong team of women and advocates for change.

Priya: Transitions Practicum Student

Priya SidhuPriya received her BA Hons. in Criminology from Simon Fraser University. Her undergraduate thesis explored how sex workers advertise their services on online classified websites Craigslist and Backpage. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters in Counseling Psychology.

Priya is passionately committed to social justice and community engagement. She has extensive volunteer experience with various organizations throughout the Metro Vancouver including WISH Drop – In, PACE Society and Battered Women’s Support Services. She also has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities, concurrent disorders, substance use, HIV, spectrum disorders, and/or criminal justice involvement.

She is really passionate about her practicum with the Transitions program at Battered Women’s Support Services and is looking forward to connecting with women and engaging in program evaluation.

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