Safer strolls: A new, progressive way to blame the victim?

You want to talk victim-blaming? Ok. Let’s talk victim blaming.

The Toronto Sun published an article on March 11th entitled: “Helping Hookers Stay Safe” which looked at a project called the safer stroll project. According to the article, this project is an “innovative mentorship program…designed to educate sex workers to deal with high-risk and violent situations.”

The reporter interviews one sex worker for the piece, who describes various horrific situations within which she was subjected to violence at the hands of johns. This violence, it is fair to assume, is not limited to one individual but is something many women and, particularly, many prostituted women are at risk for. But rather than addressing this violence in the most obvious way, that is to go to the root, this particular article would lead us to believe that the solution is to teach women proper skills for avoiding violence to the best of their ability.

Feminism today is very much enmeshed in discourse, work and action aimed at putting an end to victim blaming. This work is extremely important – one of the number one rules we learn as feminists is that women are not responsible for their own rapes, their own assaults, and their own abuse. Men are accountable for their own behaviour and there is no particular skill set women can or should develop in order for them to avoid violence. Obviously.

Isn’t that obvious?

Apparently not. Apparently not when in comes to prostitution.

Apparently, within the newly popular harm reduction discourse, the very best we can do to  “keep women safe” is to teach them the proper skills to avoid being attacked, abused, and murdered. And no, this isn’t some deluded fantasy of the right wherein we are made to imagine that, if only women would behave themselves, men wouldn’t be forced to abuse them. No. This is what progressives are encouraged to support! That being harm reduction. Otherwise known as “the best we can come up with.” Otherwise known as “we accept that misogyny is inevitable so let’s teach women how best to cope with that reality.”

Hey! Here’s a newfangled idea! How about we, FOR ONCE, put the onus on the violent men. How about we even go so far as to blame men for the violent acts they commit rather than blaming the victim for “dealing with” violent men in the “wrong way”. How about, instead of learning how to be nicer to johns, so as to avoid being attacked by them, we teach johns that they won’t get away with being violent? What’s that? Criminalize the johns? Oh no. That’s crazy-talk. All women need is more “skills.” Skills will stop male violence, right?

In what universe is this rhetoric even close to feminist?

Why is it so easy for progressives to understand that victim-blaming is wrong, but blindly accept the idea that it is somehow the responsibility of women to control men’s behaviour if they are engaged in sex work?  Are we all expected to rally behind Slutwalk, which claims to fight victim-blaming and then close our eyes when reporters start talking about “safety strategies” for prostituted women? How would the Slutwalk fanatics react if someone wrote an article claiming that that young women should develop “safety strategies” for going to parties or, you know, going to work or going on dates or getting married or waking up in the morning or getting on the bus or engaging in any of those activities or going to any of those places women go wherein, sometimes, women are assaulted or raped or harassed or abused by men? Make sure you develop strategies for avoiding being abused by your partners, women! Be sure to be as polite as possible! Because, of course, polite women don’t get abused or raped. Never. Those arguments would never be accepted among self-identified feminists.

And yet harm reduction is the new progressive mantra. “Developing safety strategies” is now framed as potentially empowering for women.

Well excuse me while I stare awkwardly at this big, huge, gaping hole in feminist discourse.

If we are to understand that victim blaming – the new favorite catchword for third wave feminists – is unacceptable (and, without a doubt, it is unacceptable) and if we can all, supposedly, agree on the relatively simple idea that we don’t blame the victim of violence, that, rather, we blame the perpetrator, then how about this – JOHNS ARE NO EXCEPTION. Women don’t need to develop “safety strategies” – men need to stop being violent, horrible, entitled assholes. We need to stop protecting these men. Because so long as we keep protecting them, making excuses for them, and continuing to make violence against women the responsibility of women, men will continue to be violent.

“Harm reduction” and “safety strategies” for prostituted women effectively removes blame from male perpetrators of violence and does nothing to address the root of the problem. Does that sound progressive to you?

 

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Thank you for this brilliant post. Brava!

    YES: And yet harm reduction is the new progressive mantra. “Developing safety strategies” is now framed as potentially empowering for women.

    Well excuse me while I stare awkwardly at this big, huge, gaping hole in feminist discourse.

    If we are to understand that victim blaming – the new favorite catchword for third wave feminists – is unacceptable (and, without a doubt, it is unacceptable) and if we can all, supposedly, agree on the relatively simple idea that we don’t blame the victim of violence, that, rather, we blame the perpetrator, then how about this – JOHNS ARE NO EXCEPTION.

  • DV Diary

    I work in domestic violence in Australia and our core policy is protecting women and children AND holding male perpetrators accountable for their violence. We do indeed work with women to devise safety plans to assist them to keep safe in their relationships with violent/controlling men because we know that “just leaving” a relationship is not always possible or safe for them. At the same time we work to change societal attitudes towards women and acceptance of male violence against women. I dont know the full story behind your article, but is it possible that the progressives you speak of who are advocating harm reduction are taking the same approach? Keeping sex workers safe in the immediate future while at the same time working towards and end to violence against women and accountability of male perpetrators?

    • Meghan Murphy

      @DV Diary – I agree with you that, of course, it is not easy to “just leave” an abusive relationship. The trouble with harm reduction discourse, here in Vancouver anyway, is that it does seem to end at just that – reducing harm. The only ones who are fighting for a real end to violence and an end to a patriarchal society are the abolitionists. I do believe that we can support women in the here and now as well as working towards an equitable future – I see a solution in the Nordic model, which decriminalizes prostituted women but criminalizes buyers. I believe this will hold men accountable rather than protect them.

  • It’s too bad that the conversation can’t seem to find space for both holding offenders accountable AND encouraging harm reduction. Yes, the end goal should be the eradication of violence and misogyny but until that happens, it’s not a bad idea for people to be able to take steps to protect themselves. Yes, if the activism begins and ends at harm reduction, that’s a problem, but I feel like putting all of the emphasis on the perpetrators without any information for self-defense leaves people unnecessarily vulnerable.

    • I see harm reduction and self-defense as two very different things. All women should be equipped in various manners of self-defense. In normal jobs, a harm is not being raped, assaulted, threatened with murder, and possibly murdered on a regular basis. Why don’t MEN work on harm reduction by working to eliminate their violence against women?

      It’s not up to women to figure out which men will murder us–a task that is impossible to do, anyway. I guess the women Ted Bundy tricked into going with him should have examined him closely and realized he was a murderer, huh?

  • This makes me furious – for it is so unrealistic of the reality of lives and conditions of the prostitution.
    It must be remembered that men that paid for sex – are paying to make the prostitute sub-human. She is made into parts of body to be consumed. In that environment, the punter is paying for the right to be violent if he wants – and in most situations the prostitute has no rights and time or space to protect herself.
    In my experiences of attempting to defend myself when I was prostituted – was it usually placed me in more dangers. Either because the punter does worse and more terrifying sexual violence. Or if I may succeed in defending myself – I was punished later by my pimps/managers by sending me to more violent aspects of prostitution or worse punters.
    The concept of being able to talk a man who views the prostitute as sub-human is nonsense.
    The only way is to punish the men for buying and selling the prostituted class.

  • ned

    Thanks for this post, Meghan. “Safety strategies” is obviously a cop-out to misogyny.

    Am I late to this or are there a number of blogs of exited sex workers cropping up on the internets? Other than the always admirable Rebecca Mott who I already knew about, here are some others that I’ve found … all of them articulate and witty and brilliant women …

    http://survivorsconnect.wordpress.com/
    http://secretdiaryofadublincallgirl.wordpress.com/ (tongue-in-cheek subtitle says “definitely not Belle du Jour” 😉 )
    http://secretlifeofamanhattancallgirl.wordpress.com/

    I urge everyone to read Dublin Call Girl’s post on the dehumanizing effects of online reviews of call girls:
    http://secretdiaryofadublincallgirl.wordpress.com/2012/02/17/how-it-feels-to-get-reviewed/

    • Meghan Murphy

      Yes! There have been several new blogs by exited sex workers that have started recently – thanks for the links!

  • Sunflower

    This makes me so angry. Why do people think women need more coping strategies? Women learn coping strategies from the moment they’re born. It’s called “living as a woman” and you learn all about coping just trying to survive among men. This is obviously more victim blaming and I bet will be ultimately useless. Focusing on the perpetrators of violence is the only way to stop it.

  • Tina

    This is bullshit.

    Novel idea: BAN PROSTITUTION OUTRIGHT. Then we don’t have to worry about her “strolls”.

    Pathetic.

    Prostitution is bad for the John and lethal for the prostitute, OK?

    Have the balls/ovaries to BAN it. Now THAT would be the humane, FEMINIST thing to do.

    • Yes, because obviously blaming women for the things men do is “humane” and “FEMINIST.”

  • Thanks for all your words Meghan. I’ve been reading this blog for a long long time, but first time to comment and say thanks. People like you give me hope. Also thanks to Ned for linking the survivor blogs.
    just wanted to say thanks. Keep fighting.
    DCG

  • “designed to educate sex workers to deal with high-risk and violent situations.”

    High-risk and violent situations? That pretty much describes “sex work” in general.

    Abolition is the mission.

  • pisaquari

    Thank you for continuiung to to point out the utter inanity of these harm ENSURERS Meghan. We, abolitionists, need to be an ongoing, cohesive voice. The survivor blogs and and websites such as feminisms.org are a bastion of brilliance and strenght.

    In other news, my University’s Public Health Department has officially institutionalized the terms “commercial sex workers” and “transactional sex” and I am **furious**. For the health system to default to privileged and the context-less terminology is fucking irresponsible–and I’ll be damned if I don’t say as much before this degree is said and done. To add insult to injury, public health uses eradication models across all spectrums of infectious diseases wherein we can no more *see* the pathogen/cause than we can anticipate the exact victims. And yet, the ‘pathogens’ and ‘anticipated victims’ of violence against women are stupid-obvious.

    Reducing harm is an unfortunate byproduct of not going far enough but never the ULTIMATE GOAL.

  • DS

    I know this is aweful but sometimes I really hate men….I didn’t use to in fact sometimes I wish I never found the internet…but after spending time on the internet and hearing go back in the kitchen bitch! and hearing about how men just NEED to precious right to have prostitution and porn legalized for their own perposes, and how women are just inferior to the almightly male….it is making me really distrusting and skeptical of men…do they all secretly hate women? Their is know reason for prostitution to exist except female hatred….these men think women are good for nothing but sex and being submissive.

  • Ciarda

    DS is on the right track. So called “progressive” men are as rife with misogyny as the right wingers. To right winger males women are Reproductive Objects, designed only to be used to create the next generation of right wingers, to “progressive” men (Markos, Olbermann, etc…) women are sex objects, designed only to have every orfice available for their use any time they desire. Look at the rage these so called progressive males have when these women dare to be anything other than in sexual service to them. Thus you get “harm reduction” rather than jail pimps and johns attacking women- and that includes pressuring a woman for sexual acts they don’t want to do.

  • DS

    Sorry about my spelling in the above post I was kind of thinking faster then I was typing! Sadly yes…..look no father then Larry Flynt, Bill Maher and the likes of them…they couldn’t give two shits about women….They are also big hitters in the prostitution is great brigade! I do hold women resposible too the likes of Belle De Jour and other women who are supposidly happy hookers make money off the backs of women that are suffering of the majority of women in the sex industry. Belle De Jour even has a blog post about how trafficking is nothing bt a feminest myth it pisses me off.

    • Belle de Jour INFURIATES me. She is the lowest of the low to me.
      Anyone who has been in prostitution has inherent empathy for other prostitutes, whether they are trafficked, or happy hookers, and anywhere in between.

      For her to disregard the majority because they don’t match her so called experiences, makes me shiver with anger. I can’t even articulate how unjust it is, that she has a voice, when those that really actually need it, and could change the world with, do not.

  • These tips for ‘hookers’ also don’t address why there is so much violence against prostitutes to begin with. It is not just violence against women, as violence against prostitutes (the female ones especially) is higher than that against non-prostituted women. It can’t be explained in terms of misogyny only, at least not straightforwardly, and it can’t be explained in terms of ‘whorephobia’ because that a non-explanation, it’s just the use of a word in place of an actual causal story.

    I think at least part of the story is that there are features of prostitution that predispose it to involving violence. Men already have issues with hatred of women and a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, and the availability that is signaled by prostitution does not exactly ameliorate that. The transactional and emotionally alienated nature of the whole thing also makes empathy more difficult to come by, and environments with little empathy and much carnality are not generally safe or fulfilling. Further, evidence indicates that men who hire prostitutes hold a negative view of women and of the prostitutes in particular. For whatever reason, many men are looking for women at whom they can unleash their underlying hatred of women and their aggression, and prostitutes are selected as targets because their line of work makes them available to men to a degree that women are not normally available, and because their being prostitutes is *interpreted* by many men as such availability.

    The problem is inherent within prostitution in a patriarchal context. The safer stroll project does not address this.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m with ya, Komal. Great points.

    • MissFit

      Men hatred of women is seen everyday through the dehumanizing practices of pornstitution. It is seen through art, religion, science, violence. It is seen in language, in the way many men talk to women (‘go back in the kitchen bitch’, as stated above). Men hatred of women is a fact. What I do not understand is WHY so much hatred… Women are the ones who take care of others, most women do no harm… Can somebody explain to me WHY!?!?! Why is misogyny so widespread?

      • Hari

        MissFit–there is no ‘reason’ for misogyny, really. Other than patriarchy depends upon it. The dominance/submission model of relationship requires a submissive–a slave for the master. You cannot dominate or enslave people whom you view as having real humanity, whom you value just the same as yourself. So, patriarchy teaches the hatred of womyn to all of us, in order to maintain male privilege to dominate us, and to have our labors and bodies. There is no nurturing or other labor we perform that might ‘earn’ us their respect and love….there is no bad thing we do, or good thing we fail to do, that ‘earns’ us their hatred and abuse. It is just the structure of patriarchy–which is dominance and submission, master and slave, sadism and masochism. This is so widespread because patriarchy has come to run the whole planet now for quite awhile, via imperialism and war.

        • MissFit

          Thanks Hari, it is very enlightening!

      • Read The Second Sex, by Simone De Beauvoir. It’s rather thick and eccentric, but there is a full explanation of how the patriarchy came to establish itself and develop.

    • Another point I’d like to add: violence against non-prostituted women is usually not from our clients, if we’re working jobs that involve clients. For example, female lawyers do not normally get attacked by their male clients. Nor do female professors by their male students (male students are not clients, but it’s a similar enough situation to count as an example), and so on. So regardless of how much violence there is against female prostitutes compared to against women as a whole (there seems to be more against prostitutes), there is definitely a huge difference in the level of violence faced by male clients/bosses/customers.

      The radical feminist idea of sexual politics is relevant here. Prostitution is not a job like any other, in part because sex is not an activity like any other, which is in turn the case partly because heterosexual sexual relations between men and women are problematic in a way that other, non-gender roled, non-sexual relations are not. I offered some reasons for this above, in terms of male hatred of women and entitlement to women’s bodies, which is more manifest in sexual relations for some reason (maybe because that’s where gender roles originated?).

      • Oh, I forgot to complete my thought: violence against non-prostituted women is not usually from our clients (if we have clients), but from men in sexual and romantic relationships with women (e.g. boyfriends). That’s more similar to the relationship between johns and prostitutes, insofar as both involve sex. So there is clearly something going on here, something that it may be useful to uncover if we want to understand the nature of misogyny.

  • Former Slave

    We can’t talk about harm reduction AND protecting women because “harm reduction” is a bullshit strategy to protect women. It also is demeaning to the women stuck in (or even choosing) sex work, just as “harm reduction” strategies are demeaning when they are sent to me in a chain email telling me how “not to get raped”. Here’s one reason it’s demeaning – it treats prostitutes as stupid. Do you think they don’t already know their job better than the clueless person writing the article? Do you think they don’t already employ “harm reduction” strategies? And do those work? No, because “harm” doesn’t just happen – men deliberately decide “I am going to hurt a woman tonight.” It is a planned thing and they are perfectly capable of acting nice, even gentlemanly until they have a woman behind closed doors.

  • Hecuba

    Komal what you described is misogyny -meaning male hatred of all women. As you said ‘men already have issues with hatred of women and a sense of entitlement to women’s bodies, and the availability that is signaled by prostitution does not exactly ameliorate that.’ Therefore, prostitution is all about men’s pseudo sex right to women and girls and link that with men’s endemic hatred/contempt for women then yes men do believe women are non-human and therefore ‘no male can harm a female human because she is not human.

    Male violence against women and girls occurs constantly irrespective of whether or not the female victim is involved in prostitution. Only difference is male supremacist system claims women in prostitution are non-human whereas sometimes, some female victims of male violence are declared by Male Supremacist System to be ‘real victims.’ Misogyny is the problem as is male domination over all women.

    • Hari

      In patriarchy, all womyn are non-human. Some, like prostitutes, are simply ‘even less human’ than other womyn are.

      • Hari

        Maybe, kind of like the difference between a prized pureblood dog who makes Mr Owner look good and may win prizes in dog-competitions, and the stray mutt who may keep the rat population down but is ugly and undomesticated. Both dogs are non-human and therefore subject to owner’s treatment; in the value system of patriarchy, one has more value than the other to a man in terms of services rendered including serving his image in the world as a Right Man. So, the pureblood usually gets fed pretty well and taken to the vet; the cur gets kicked, poisoned, killed at will.

        • Hari

          To be clear: *I* do not think of womyn as perhaps like dogs. Patriarchy does. Getting this point, I think, is pretty important for us to understand, if we are to recognize the harsh reality we are faced with in this world.

  • marv wheale

    According to Catharine MacKinnon, patriarchy is not only the creator of women’s subordination but animals’ as well. She sees both as linked. Here is a quote from a chapter in her book, Women’s Lives Under Men’s Laws. The chapter is entitled, Of Mice and Men.

    “People dominate animals, men dominate women. Each is a relation of hierarchy, an inequality, with particularities and variations within and between them. Every inequality is grounded and played out and resisted in unique ways, but parallels and overlaps can be instructive. One prominent similarity between these two herarchies is ideological: inspite of the evidence that men socially dominate women and people dominate other animals, the fact that relations of domination and subordination exist between the two is widely denied. More precisely, it is widely thought and practiced and said that people are “above” animals, whereas it is commonly thought and practiced but denied… that men are “above” women. And while a hierarchy of people over animals is conceded, and a social hierarchy of men over women is often denied, the fact that the inequality is imposed by the dominant group tends to be denied in both cases. The hierarchy of people over animals is not seen as imposed by humans, because it is seen as due to animals’ innate inferiority by nature. In the case of men over women, either it is said that there is no inequality there, because the sexes are different, or the inequality is conceded but is said to be justified by the sex difference, that is, women’s innate inferiority by nature….

    We see denial that each hierarchy involves socially organized power, combined with justifications of why one group, because of its natural superiority, should have…. power and dominion and sovereignty over the other….

    Women are the animals of the human kingdom, the mice of men’s world. Both women and animals are identified with nature rather than culture by virtue of biology….Both are seen to lack properties that elevate men, those qualities by which men value themselves and define their status as human by distinction. In one vivid illustration that condescends to women and animals at once, Jame Boswell recounts Samuel Johnson saying, “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well but you are surprised to find it done at all.” Using dogs imitating people as a simile for women speaking in public…becomes laughable, unnatural, and imitative as a dog trying to walk upright. Qualities considered human and higher are denied to animals at the same time as qualities considered masculine and higher are denied to women…….The bottom line for the anima/human hierarchy…is…we eat them. This is what humans want from animals and largely why and how they are most harmed. We make them dead so we can live.” Sexism too makes women into dead things so men can live.

  • Hari

    marv–thanks for that. I have not yet read MacKinnon’s work but many speak highly of it. And it’s nice to discover that she and I have had thoughts along similar lines–tends to be so affirming to make that discovery 🙂

  • Chris

    Interesting. You removed my not so flattering critique of your analysis. Meghan your not trying to filter womens voices and perspecitives are you? Because that would be – as you would say ‘anti-feminist’ and really, really hypocritical (although entirely predicatable and rather banal). Hilarious.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Hi Chris,
      Thanks for your thoughtful comments. Unfortunately we don’t publish ad hominem attacks, name-calling, insults, etc. We don’t find them to be terribly productive. Please refer to our comment policy if you would like to comment here: http://feministcurrent.com/category/comments-policy/

      All the best,
      Meghan

  • Emms

    The Safer Stroll project is a a harm reduction approach: widely and properly known to be a tertiary prevention strategy. Tertiary prevention works in concert with secondary and primary prevention methods to prevent harms associated with a high risk activities/health concerns/situations.

    Primary strategies are utilised to protect healthy people from developing a disease or experiencing an injury in the first place. For example:

    * education about good nutrition, the importance of regular exercise, and the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs
    * education and legislation about proper seatbelt and helmet use
    * regular exams and screening tests to monitor risk factors for illness
    * immunization against infectious disease
    * controlling potential hazards at home and in the workplace

    Secondary prevention
    These interventions happen after an illness or serious risk factors have already been diagnosed. The goal is to halt or slow the progress of disease (if possible) in its earliest stages; in the case of injury, goals include limiting long-term disability and preventing re-injury. For example:

    * telling people to take daily, low-dose aspirin to prevent a first or second heart attack or stroke
    * recommending regular exams and screening tests in people with known risk factors for illness
    * providing suitably modified work for injured workers

    Tertiary prevention
    This focuses on helping people manage complicated, long-term health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer and chronic musculoskeletal pain. The goals include preventing further physical deterioration and maximizing quality of life. For example:

    * cardiac or stroke rehabilitation programs
    * chronic pain management programs
    * patient support groups

    While the Safer Stroll project has been involved with actions that demand systemic change regarding violence that plagues all women it’s function is to help women in incedibly high risk situations take better control over their circumstance. Women who may or may not have the privilidge of: engaging in discorse about them, institutionalised education, the internet, etc… The women who shaped the Safer Stroll project survived heinous violence and planned the project with dedication to thier friends who did not survive violent attacks. These women hold hope that one single piece of knowledge may help a woman avoid, resolve or mitigate an assault.

    Let’s not split and divide our resources: emmulate the oppressor. There is an unfortunate requirment and purpose for a variety of strategies that address inequities – let’s please get on with that work.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I’m thinking that part of the problem here is that the journalist who wrote this piece did a terrible job of it. The other problem is that the harm reduction model institutionalizes prostitution (credit to Elizabeth Pickett).

  • emms

    A dead sex worker or substance user cannot self-actualise.

    Harm reduction is a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use. Harm Reduction is also a movement for social justice built on a belief in, and respect for, the rights of people who use drugs.

    Harm reduction incorporates a spectrum of strategies from safer use, to managed use to abstinence to meet drug users “where they’re at,” addressing conditions of use along with the use itself. Because harm reduction demands that interventions and policies designed to serve drug users reflect specific individual and community needs, there is no universal definition of or formula for implementing harm reduction. (Harm Reduction Coalition)

    Replace the term drug user with sex worker and you essentially have the safer stroll project. We cannot ignore realities. Without harm reduction programs death, violence, disease progression and transmission will expidite beyond any theorist’s capacity to keep up.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Harm reduction also allows the state to have no responsibility in terms of helping people get better. Harm reduction, in terms of drug use, is equally as problematic. There are practically no detox beds in this city (Vancouver). There is NOWHERE for people to go if they want to get clean. Rehab facilities are largely reserved for the well-off. And yet we pretend like we are doing something because we set up all these harm-reduction strategies. Of course I support clean needle facilities and want people who are addicted to be able to use safely, but the harm reduction model continues to be problematic and to alleviate responsibility on the part of the state.

      In terms of sex work, harm reduction is problematic for similar reasons. It doesn’t encourage the state to take responsibility, it doesn’t encourage exiting programs, and it certainly doesn’t address predators and inequity.

  • emms

    Inadequate funding for treatment programs – which are a part of a harm reduction strategy is deeply tied to the moralism of the state and main stream society. 1% of enforcement costs directed to treatment inclusive of harm reduction programs would develop comprehensive programs from coast to coast. I’ve worked from coast to coast in the field for decades and at no time has a harm reduction program ever diverted funding from other treatment models – in my experience. I spent a lot of time working in Vancouver with folks who struggle with extremely complex health and social issues and the one approach that doesn’t deny anyone regardless of wheree they are at: sober or using – is harm reduction. Harm reduction has demanded the government take responsibility on several occassions and recently won in a supreme court, against the federal governemnt in favour of a service for injection drug users. Theory has to live in reality if it is going to be useful.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Of course theory leads to action and there can be no activism without theory. The theory/action divide is imagined – they are completely interlocked. Harm reduction, in terms of prostitution, works on an understanding that prostitution and, therefore, inequity is inevitable. We need more than just harm reduction.

  • emms

    Of course!

  • Meghan Murphy

    Oh thanks!