Same conditions exist on streets as did when Pickton preyed
By Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun
May 2, 2012
Sex trade workers and police gathered Monday in a small room of Vancouver’s down-town library to discuss ways to prevent another serial killer such as Robert Pickton preying on vulnerable women.
Susan Davis, a sex worker for 26 years, said sex workers have a traditional distrust of police because of a history of being arrested for drugs and out-standing warrants for failing to show up in court.
She and other sex workers suggested women working the streets tend not to report rapes and violent customers to police because of that fear.
“We’re trying to break down that distrust,” Vancouver police Insp. Mario Giardini told the public forum, the first of six being held by the Missing Women inquiry to try to shape recommendations to the government about how to better protect vulnerable sex workers on the street.
“Cannot there be some discretion by officers so the women can report assaults?” asked inquiry Commissioner Wally Oppal.
“That should be happening,” Giardini said.
Sex workers’ advocate Jamie Lee Hamilton said the city also needs to improve street lighting and improve the conditions for the survival of sex workers working in the dark, industrial areas of the Downtown Eastside. “The same conditions exist today that existed when Pickton preyed on women,” Hamilton told the forum.
Oppal agreed. “The environment needs to be changed,” he said, adding His final report must be handed to government by June 30. The inquiry resume hearings on May 9.