Brothels with Benefits

Canadian sex workers propose a radical solution to crimes and abuse directed at those in the oldest profession


Linda Zacks /

Content Tools

The epidemic of violent acts against sex workers is ongoing, though it is rarely addressed in the morning paper or the halls of government. Now, the West Coast Co-operative of Sex Industry Professionals (WCCSIP) in Vancouver, Canada, is taking safety into its own hands, reports Herizons (Winter 2011).  

In an ambitious new proposal, the WCCSIP is lobbying to start a co-op brothel that would rent rooms to sex workers for as little as two dollars, depending on how much time their clients request. Safety features would include emergency buttons, 24-hour security, and front-desk reception.  

Currently, Susan Davis, WCCSIP leader and an escort herself, takes clients to her apartment. “If something goes wrong, I’m hoping that my neighbors will hear me,” she says. “But if you’re working in a brothel, then people are all around you.”  

Although, technically, prostitution isn’t a crime in Canada, many aspects of the trade—such as owning a brothel or communicating for the purposes of prostitution—are illegal. By renting private rooms, workers at the co-op brothel could avoid needless, and expensive, run-ins with police and regulators.  

Beyond increased levels of physical and legal protection, the co-op would also provide helpful real-world benefits such as micro-loans for small businesses, school scholarships, and employment counseling for those who want to leave the sex industry.

cover-167-thumbHave something to say? Send a letter to This article first appeared in the September-October 2011 issue of Utne Reader.