Introspect Into the Lives of Aboriginal Women: Prostitution in Western Canada Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 08:24:05
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Aboriginal women in Western Canada have been faced with challenges and adversity in many aspects of their everyday lives. It is important to identify and analyze some of the reasons why there are a high proportion of Aboriginal women involved in the sex trade in Western Canada. This analysis is to further demonstrate the state and societys implications and effects on the lives of these women, and how they have shaped the world that sex trade workers in Canada are forced to live in day in and day out.

Society and the legal system in Canada have hindered the liberation of Aboriginal prostitutes historically, as well as presently through the effects of colonization, subordination of violence, and an immense proportion of poverty. Events regarding prostitution and brothels in Colonial times, violence against Aboriginal women in prostitution and discrimination from police, and a lack of education amongst Indigenous women are examined as modern day examples.

By relating factual information about prostitution to statistical information, an in depth observation of the state, as well as societys implications on women in the sex trade of Aboriginal decent is examined. Societys role in the sex trade and why women choose to work in the sex trade will be analyzed. Colonialism and colonization in the late 19th Century in Western Canada by the British has left a lasting impact on the Aboriginal women of the region, and can be closely related with prostitution in the area, specifically among Indigenous women.

Colonialism is governed by male control, constructed and based on the view of women as property of men , and thrives on a sexist and racist organizational view on Aboriginal women . These views suppressed Aboriginal women indefinitely. In the view of the capitalist cycle, which is also dominated by men, women were seen purely as objects for profit, or commodities. The sex trade became very active during colonization in the West. In 1866, when much colonization was taking place in Vancouver, commercial sex workers provided service for many local men, as well as those who arrived in the harbours .

Colonialism, through displacement, disease and death, left many Aboriginal people in poverty, which has carried on as a negative cycle for generations . With very little or no income, and lack of shelter and nourishment, it is understandable why many Indigenous women turned to prostitution as a means to support themselves, or attempt to diminish the cycle of poverty. This amount of poverty in any patriarchal society is closely related to a high amount of prostitution. The effects of colonialism on the lives of many Indigenous women are far reaching, and have aided in the process of turning women prostitution.

Within colonized Vancouver, many brothels housed women in the sex trade. Early 20th Century Vancouver was home to 40 female-run brothels , and police were concerned with eliminating street prostitution . This signified a control and toleration of sex work. Following the 1940s, society viewed prostitutes as disease spreaders, causing sex workers to be removed from brothels, forced off the streets, fined, charged as criminals, and occasionally jailed . The closure of brothels continued rapidly in to the 1980s . The perspective shift from society regarding prostitution caused a large shift in the momentum of prostitution.

Women were forced on to the streets, with no place to go; their livelihoods were removed from them, and they were not only open public harassment, but to preying men and sexual predators due to the fact they were forced to take their previously safe work to the streets. According to todays society, because one does not fit into a specific career class, they are not worthy of basic human rights. It is a completely inaccurate presumption that most people believe that prostitutes choose these lives, and so it is not their concern to attempt to help these women.

Aboriginal women, especially those involved in prostitution, are faced with violence very frequently, causing them to become over sensitized to it. Violence, common to many other things, is passed inter-generationally, which means it is a learned vice that is passed through each generation . Aboriginal women who experience violence become the cycle, and when in sex work, learn to deal with it as if it is normal. In a study conducted in Vancouver, a very high percentage of Indigenous sex workers reported childhood physical and sexual abuse .

They had been exposed to this exploitation at a very young age, and were likely entering the sex trade at a young age . This gave many women no choice, childhood, or freedom, causing them to become victimized. Exponentially large amounts of Aboriginal women involved in prostitution have been assaulted and raped on several occasions by various perpetrators . These prostitutes are accommodated to violence at a young age , and thrown into sexual labour. However, throughout the course of their lives, they are habitually forced into a never ending cycle of violence.

In prostitution, there is a linear association between sex work, childhood violence, and drug use . Just as in history, like female victims of spousal abuse being blamed for the violence, prostitutes are being seen as the perpetrators of their own violence because all actions are presumed consensual. In many instances where prostitutes are sexually assaulted and the police are notified, the police take no action, nor feel the need to investigate any further . This action by societies protectors allows for societies misconceptions and ignorance toward sex workers.

The case of Robert Pickton, a pig farmer from British Columbia demonstrates the view that legal system and society have of Aboriginal prostitutes. From the early 1980s until 2002, 69 women disappeared from Vancouvers Downtown Eastside, many of them being Aboriginal sex workers . The police and authorities presumed that the sex trade workers went on vacation, but they were inner city prostitutes, and there was no record of them after their disappearance. It took over 10 years from the realization of the increasing amount of missing women for a proper investigation, and Picktons eventual arrest in 2002 .

A total of 27 of the 69 missing womens DNA were found on Picktons farm. These street workers were dehumanized by the legal system because of their occupations, class, gender, and ethnicity. It is evident that racism and sexism presume an overabundance in police investigations of missing or murdered native women. These women are being persecuted by implemented social structures that are meant to protect, not ignore. Both society and the legal system have put the blame on these women for unfortunate dispositions, and have neither sympathy nor empathy for the positions they have helped reinforce in their lives.

Poverty in Western Canada amongst those of Aboriginal descent has a major impact on their lives, and is a root cause of the mass amounts of Indigenous women in the sex trade. The colonization of Vancouver in the 1800s had long lasting effects on the aboriginal people, in terms of income . Due to displacement from their homes and lands, the livelihood and living of many native peoples were changed forever, causing them to adapt to new lifestyles when forced to live on reserves.

Most people were left improvised, and this has been carried throughout the generations into todays society. In Manitoba, 42. 7% of Indigenous women residing off of the reserve fall under the poverty line . This evidence represents an overabundance of Aboriginal women who barely make enough money to survive; a new and possibly dangerous source of income prostitution is sought out in order to sustain their safety and security. The amount of homelessness and housing instability amongst aboriginal women involved in prostitution is tremendous .

This indicates a large amount of insecurity and instability in the lives of most native women involved in sex work; they are not safe from predators, and have no safe place to call home, making their lives very unbalanced, and unsafe. There is an adequate over representation of Aboriginal women involved in the sex trade in Vancouver . This shows an exponential amount of poverty amongst prostitutes, as well as a devalued status by not only men, but by society as a whole. Most women in the sex trade have admitted to having sex for food, money, drugs, and shelter .

These prostitutes do not sell their bodies because it is something they enjoy doing; it has become a last resort in order to survive as they have no other means to acquire the basics in life such as food or shelter. The system has failed these women, and society as a whole sits back and complains about what an eye soar it is to see prostitutes walking the streets. Due to immense amounts of poverty throughout the reserves of Western Canada, instead of getting an education, many Aboriginal women are sent off to work, or begin a life on the streets at a young age.

Only 7% of Aboriginal women pursue a university degree if they graduate high school . With education, many Aboriginal women would be taught accurate information about sex, sexually transmitted diseases, prostitution, and the resources available to those who are underprivileged. Instead, due to mens patriarchal domination throughout Indigenous peoples history, many of these people are afraid and reluctant to talk about sex, or teach their families about sex; it is the practice of white men .

Without adequate information and education regarding sex, many Aboriginal women who enter the sex trade have no real concept or image of the dangers in which they are becoming involved. The social order of Canada and the legal system in the west have delayed the emancipation of Aboriginal prostitutes historically, as well as presently through colonization, subordination of violence, and a disproportion of poverty. Native women involved in the sex trade in Western Canada are faced with many difficulties, including: violence, rape, assault, lack of food, homelessness, AIDS, death, and drug addiction.

These women did not choose this way of life. However, an intricate web of predispositions violence, poverty, and lack of security- have lead Aboriginal women to the sex trade as an attempt to survive. It is an unfortunate series of events when a country is able to provide financial and residential security for new comers to the nation, but completely ignores and blames the first peoples of the land for their circumstances. Society also judges and implicates on prostitutes, causing many people believe that women chose this life, and it is a completely consensual arrangement.

The legal system also persecutes these women; they are murdered, beaten, assaulted, and go missing without the slightest inquiry as to their disappearances or abuses by police. Sex trade workers are judged and denied basic human rights on the basis of their gender, culture, race, and job positions. Recently, there has been a push to legalize prostitution in Canadian cities nationwide. Where this would be a good institution, as these prostitutes would be guaranteed rights, and possibly safe environments to work in, there are also various negative aspects.

Firstly, the legalization of prostitution in Canada would lead to many more and much younger prostitutes in society. Furthermore, the legalization would promote trafficking as an acceptable practice in Canadian society, and would also make prostitution more profitable for the men who exploit and abuse sex workers. The question that arises out of these intricate circumstances is whether the legalization of prostitution in Canada would make this work safer for women, or if it would oppress these women further on the basis of their gender, culture, and occupation.

Therefore, it is far more acceptable for Aboriginal prostitutes to be abused by the system, society, the user of the service, and the legal system. There has been enough persecution of Native and Indigenous peoples in Canadian history for it to continue well in to the 21st century. This oppression and abuse causes one to contemplate the true meaning of freedom, and what it really is to be a Canadian.

The idea of Aboriginal Prostitution is an extremely important issue ecause it involves the patriarchal suppression of women by men, and is heavily associated with race bias. These women struggle severely on a day to basis. This issue is also extremely important as it enables society to observe and analyze the ways in which its views have constructed the lives of many Indigenous sex trade workers. The precedent remains however, on finding a way to help these women avoid, and recover from these life endangering situations.

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