I am writing in response to the editorial by AJS. I much appreciate the content and want to say that it expresses my feelings exactly.
I think that it is well past the time when the BCMA should speak out about social issues, not just medical ones. As we know only too well, social issues (of which crime is one) play an enormous role in illness and our abilities to provide effective health care.
I think the medical profession should take a stand on prostitution. I understand that a parliamentary committee has been trying to do this for some time, and has been unable to do it. You mention victims of crimes and we know that dozens of women who were involved in the sex trade have been killed in Vancouver in the past few years. There is no question of their vulnerability. The trial of Mr Pickton goes on and on, but we seem to be completely unable to come up with solutions that will help protect these women in an area of work that will continue to thrive despite the efforts of police, politicians, and religious groups to eliminate it.
I think in the past groups such as ours hesitated to speak out as possibly appearing to promote an activity that degrades women, but now there are, I understand, advocacy groups that are searching for solutions.
It is time to promote both the health and safety of prostitutes, taking them off the streets, protecting them from predators, and providing access to medical centres that will allow them to access health assessment and treatment.
By keeping these young, vulnerable people healthy we will promote community wellness by reducing their illness, reduce the spread of disease to their customers, allow support that will reduce their tendency to rely on addictive drugs, and provide education and counseling that will help allow redirection and reintegration into the rest of society.
—Bob Henderson, MD
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