Sex workers and sex worker rights advocates are speaking out with mounting concern in British Columbia, Canada, after two indoor sex workers were found dead in the same apartment block, two weeks apart. The women were called Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors.
The police have been criticised for not issuing a warning more swiftly after Lyons was found. Kate Gibson, executive director of the WISH drop-in centre, said, "I think two [women], two weeks apart, is extremely alarming ... In Vancouver, we've already seen this happen. Not stepping up, not dealing with this. And could they have prevented a second death? Maybe they could have."
Dr Shannon, who works in gender and sexual health research, noted that online escorts, like other sex workers, are unable to take steps to ensure their own safety - due to criminalisation. She explained, "sex workers don't have access to the same safety and security protections" that other workers can use.
This case has particular resonance for the global sex worker rights movement, and for sex workers in Canada, because of the Bedford case currently being decided in the Canadian Supreme Court. The court is tasked with examining whether the laws that permit sex work, but criminalise all the things that sex workers need to do to keep safe, are unconstitutional. When sex workers are prevented from working together, or openly discussing boundaries and services, we are more vulnerable to violence - with tragic consquences.