Jennifer Bigelow : Former sex worker calling for overnight drop-in centre in Vanier
Jennifer Bigelow : Former sex worker calling for overnight drop-in centre in Vanier

Jennifer Bigelow : Former sex worker calling for overnight drop-in centre in Vanier

A new survey by a pair of advocacy groups looking at how the drug and sex trades are intertwined in Ottawa highlights just how many sex workers are homeless and says many live in fear of being mistreated by clients or police.

The survey was conducted by PROUD — or Participatory Research in Ottawa, Understanding Drugs, along with DUAL, Drug Users Advocacy League.

Jennifer Bigelow says she left the sex trade after a violent attack by a client last year. At a luncheon in Ottawa on Wednesday, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, she recounted the traumatic incident.

She said in the New Year she is going to enroll in a social worker program and hopes to become a counsellor and work in a drop-in on Montreal Road — a place she says is a “high traffic” area for sex workers.

“At 4 o’clock in the morning when it’s raining and you have perverts driving around harassing you as well as two police cruisers, you need a place to go to. Or you’ve had a sh–ty date. You need a place to be,” she said. “You need people who understand you. And not from 9 to 5.”

Even though she is no longer working on the street, she still says “we” when talking about sex workers. “My heart is still on the streets with those girls. I lived it for so many years.

The new federal legislation, Bill C-36, targets johns and pimps by making the purchase of sex illegal. The government also lauds the bill for making it easier for vulnerable women to exit prostitution.

But, Bigelow disagrees with the suggestion from the Conservative government that sex workers should be viewed as victims and argues the new laws will force them more underground in unsafe conditions.

“Us women are not victims. We chose to do this. We chose to put on our high heels, paint our faces, fill our purse with condoms and go out,” said Bigelow. “The profession isn’t going to go away. The girls are always going to be out there.”


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    1. Not a bad idea, but why not put the place in Rockcliffe. They do not even have a corner store. They are the elite members of society who spout off their limousine liberal talk but never make a single tangible sacrifice. So my hearty endorsement is for a nice place like that to go right into Rockcliffe near Ashbury school or some cabinet ministers house or a supreme court judges house or near Steves house or the Governor Generals mansion. Great places to let those hypocrites know what Vanier has had to put up all these years with all of its drug addiction centers, prostitutes and the like. Rockcliffe it is your turn. Maybe also you can extend the hours at the swimming pond and let the girls have summer barbecues around dinner time at say 5.00 pm. and then go into action.

    2. Our dear elected officials do not have any use for street hookers.They have expense accounts with all the high priced call girl agencies.

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