Vancouver women respond to Craigslist ads requesting sex in exchange for housing


An open letter to the state agencies who fail to protect women from male violence and exploitation.

We are women — mothers, daughters, and sisters — who struggle to make ends meet in Vancouver. We understand the financial difficulties women in the city experience while trying to live an independent life, free from male violence. Each and every one of us has felt this oppression.

Women are resourceful. They access all of the support that is available to them — whether it be government programs, voluntary societies, friends, or family. However, even with this support women still struggle to survive.

Recently we heard that men are offering housing in exchange for sex via Craigslist ads. We are enraged at these men for blatantly taking advantage of women’s financial instability, angry at the provincial government for allowing a housing crisis, and furious at the Vancouver Police Department for refusing to protect women from men who buy and sell women’s bodies. We believe these ads promote prostitution. They exploit women’s inability to meet their basic needs by demanding sexual access to women in exchange for shelter. These ads are not a “mutually beneficial arrangement.” Poverty is one of the main reasons that drives women to consider such offers.


We are critical of our current economic system and governmental institutions that leave women vulnerable to male violence. They have created a world where women are often left vulnerable to male violence. We want men to stop exploiting women. We want men to stop seeing women as sexualized objects to buy and sell whenever they please. We demand affordable housing, affordable nutritious food, free childcare, prosecution of johns and pimps, and the implementation of a Guaranteed Livable Income. We demand that the provincial and municipal governments and the criminal justice system do their jobs: to protect women and hold violent men accountable.

Women deserve to be treated with dignity and live without fear that they will be further exploited by men.

We hope this letter is taken into consideration.


Sandra Fischer, Lindsay Mcnab, Kirsten Hewitt, Elena Budaeva, ShuMei Li, Anisha Kari, Aelish Carachelo, Maria Paredes

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