Events over the past year have made clear the systemic racism and injustices that racialized, Black, and Indigenous communities continue to face. The murders that occured in Atlanta, Georgia, spas on March 26, 2021, are a stark example of that. These brazen shootings were an expression not only of anti-Asian hate but also of gender-based violence. They also highlight the marginalization of migrant sex workers.
Social Planning Toronto recognizes that these acts are not unique to the United States. Sadly, inequalities continue to divide us, and Asian individuals experience racism on a daily basis. Forms of anti-Asian hate and violence persist in Toronto and across Canada. Nationally, more than 600 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported between March 10 and Dec. 31, 2020, about one-quarter of them in Toronto, ranging from microaggressions to verbal harassment to physical attacks.
The current jurisdictional and legal context leaves migrant workers, including migrant sex workers, vulnerable to exploitation and violence (such as the shooting of Ashley Noell Arzaga at a North York spa). The denial of formal citizenship and lack of labour protections for migrant workers stem from colonial practices that continue to exclude racialized communities from having equal rights and accessing services. For this reason, full immigration status for all is critical to achieving racial justice.
At the same time, the stigmatization and criminalization of sex work hinders workers’ access to basic healthcare, services, protection, and justice. We must challenge harmful assumptions about sex workers and uphold their human rights and dignity. Horrific acts of violence like those in Atlanta and our own city cannot continue.
Last year, Social Planning Toronto joined other organizations and individuals to condemn systemic racism and commit to dismantling it. Racism, sexism, and oppression of sex workers have no place in our society. We will continue to fight against these and other forms of oppression as part of our work to improve equity, social justice, and quality of life in Toronto.
Join us to #StopAsianHate and support #MigrantSexWorkerJustice. To learn more check out these organizations:
- Butterfly (Asian and Migrant Sex Workers Support Network) / @ButterflyCSW
- Migrant Rights Network / @MigrantRightsCA
- Chinese Canadian National Council for Social Justice / @ccncsj
- Elimin8hate / @Elimin8_hate
- Fight COVID Racism