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.
Baptie also questioned why someone would continue in the service if they are doing well. How does that help create an egalitarian society? 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. It is common for prostitutes to market themselves in Kelowna using a web site. 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. Employee lists must also be submitted as well as criminal record checks are conducted, he said.
Wise said complaints about illegal brothels may be made to the city or the RCMP. 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.
The agency, she says, looks after the women, with security and only performing in-calls, only doing sexual acts inside the brothel. Anywhere from five to 10 women occupy the building at one time, she said. She works 12 hour days which she says a majority of the time is spent napping, watching TV, or eating food. She found the toughest challenge with her job was coming out to her family.
She finds her job to be empowering saying she is more comfortable with her body. She also enjoys paying her own bills and supporting herself. To report a typo, email: