Supporting the human rights of migrant sex workers in Toronto: Accessing justice through legal information and services

Project Name

Supporting the human rights of migrant sex workers in Toronto: Accessing justice through legal information and services

Lead Agency: Chinese Canadian National Council – Toronto Chapter
Legal Partner: The Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic
Community Partners: Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network); St. Stephen’s Community House

Legal Topics for Training

The legal topics to be covered are:

  • Violence against migrant sex workers
  • Workplace and immigration issues
  • Human rights and migrant sex workers
  • Law enforcement and migrant sex workers

Project Summary

The project aims to use a peer leader model to give front line workers information on a number of key legal issues that impact the lives of migrant sex workers. This project will enable front- line workers and other trusted intermediaries who come into contact with migrant sex workers to be more effective in supporting them.

Target Audience

The project will build the capacity of front-line community workers in the Greater Toronto Area who work with migrant sex workers who speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese or Korean as their first or only language. The project will also reach out to health workers, staff from women’s shelters, crisis workers, community outreach workers, and drop-in centre staff. Finally, community and peer leaders in the migrant work sector will also be trained.

Key Activities

The project will share legal information using the following strategies:

  • four in-person workshops in the Greater Toronto Area
  • a set of elearning tools that can be accessed across Ontario
  • wide distribution of a resource guide and brochure outlining practical steps to support the needs of migrant sex workers

Need for Training

Migrant sex workers are highly marginalized, and often have little access to support services. They also face barriers due to the stigma attached to sex work. The need for front-line workers to understand and to be able to interpret the law to sex workers has been highlighted as a critical need because sex workers are unaware of the rights in place to protect themselves. Developing the capacity for navigating the law is significant for sex workers’ rights awareness and how to act on their rights.

Innovative Approach

This is the first type of known legal training that will cover the complex interactions of the different areas of law that affect migrant sex workers in Canada. And no other training has been developed and carried out specifically for the Chinese and Asian Communities. The trainings are innovative as they allow different sectors and perspective to collaborate and build linkages instead of operating in silos.