Memorial draws controversy over invitation of speaker Janice Raymond

From Rabble Ca.:

By Mercedes Allen
November 29, 2013

On November 30, an event is being held in Vancouver to remember the victims of the 1989 massacre at L’École Polytechnique. The event’s purpose is to seek ways to end violence against women. It has attracted some criticism, however, for the inclusion of a lecture by author, activist and professor Janice Raymond.

Raymond is Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies and Medical Ethics at the University of Massachusetts, and was a co-executive director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) and is controversial in both sex work and trans communities.

Raymond will be presenting a lecture entitled “Prostitution: Not a job, not a choice.” In it, she discusses her efforts to abolish sex work, which included advising the federal government’s legal team defending anti-prostitution laws during the recent Supreme Court Bedford v. Canada hearings.

Hilla Kerner, a member of the Vancouver Rape Relief (VRR) collective, which sponsored the event, explained why they felt that the lecture was an appropriate choice:

The connection that we’re making between prostitution, between women in the sex trade and the murder of 14 students is that they are all different but harsh expressions of the same phenomenon of women’s oppression and the patriarchal forces that try to keep women in a subordinate place. On this particular day, we intentionally remember those 14 women in the political and historical context that this man killed them. But we also use the day to talk about violence against women now, to reveal the different forms of male violence against women, and to celebrate women’s resistance…We do see prostitution as one form of male violence against women.

Katrina Caudle is a sex worker and sex work advocate who has done escorting, queer feminist porn, amateur porn and nude modeling using the names Velvet and @faeriedark. Caudle disagrees with Kerner, saying that decriminalization provides a better option.

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