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Wearing black high heels, rose patterned tights and a black jacket, Michelle says she is confident with her body. Michelle—who requested to remain anonymous—has been working as a prostitute for the last three years in Kelowna. The year-old was addicted to methamphetamine at 17 and had an abusive boyfriend. She decided to move to Kelowna on a whim, after breaking up with him. Finding herself in debt to a friend and unable to pay it off legally with her job at a nightclub, she turned to prostitution.
At first, she worked independently then began working for an agency shortly after. Trisha Baptie, founder of EVE, a non-profit organization which aims to abolish prostitution, said she hears about people like Michelle occasionally, but as a former prostitute herself, thinks it should never be legalized. How does that help create an egalitarian society? Those who choose prostitution are in the minority, she said.
The main drivers of prostitution are coercion because of the lack of basic needs. I want to know how men paying for sex creates an egalitarian society. I want to make sure the men are arrested before they get in your front door. Baptie used Germany as a negative example where prostitution is legal. Angie Lohr, president of Hope Outreach and the House of Hope in Kelowna, disagrees with Baptie, saying the acts are going to happen regardless of the law, so legalizing it will allow the women to have doctor check-ups and holiday pay.
In Kelowna, there is currently three massage parlours that are not run by favourable people, she said. Women also have their own websites, using it to advertise themselves. Greg Wise, business licensing manager with the City of Kelowna, said there are three businesses that are operating with social escort service licenses and body rub parlour licenses that are subjected to inspections annually in Kelowna.
As far as policing, Kelowna RCMP say their top priority is public safety and they have a vice position within their downtown enforcement unit, whose primary focus is on matters involving sex workers and the National Sex Offender Registry, according to Cpl. She wants to get into criminal law after completing her high school education and has been clean from meth for about four years.