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

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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 society’s 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 society’s implications on women in the sex trade of Aboriginal decent is examined. Society’s 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 1940’s, 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 1980’s . 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 today’s 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...
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