A local agency offering assistance to commercial sex workers will raise awareness and hopefully more financial support for a victim of a violent sexual assault in late June in downtown Hamilton.
Sex Workers Action Program (SWAP) executive director Jelena Vermilion says thousands of donations have already been raised for the family of the 46-year-old woman who was attacked early on June 27 near Barton Street East between Emerald Street North and Oak Avenue.
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“We are responding very strongly, immediately and very happy to see that the community has also responded in the same way,” Vermillion told 900 CHML’s. good morning hamilton.
“In fact, I am very happy to announce that we have received over $5,000 in donations for the mother that we will be presenting to her at the vigil.”
The SWAP-led vigil is scheduled for July 15 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. in the alley where the sex worker was attacked: she sustained serious injuries, including a broken nose and cheekbones.
Vermilion says the worker remains in a coma and underwent surgery last week with the prospect of not regaining consciousness still imminent.
The money will help pay for numerous expenses, including travel expenses incurred by the victim’s mother, a part of the Ontario Disability Support Program, to come to Hamilton from Woodstock, Ontario, to be with her daughter.
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“As terrible as the victim being targeted is, we appreciate it as it creates an opportunity for dialogue about how the law should be decriminalized in Canada,” Vermillion said.
“The idea that sex workers are expected to experience violence at work when they are doing their trade, that is not acceptable and can be safer.”
Hamilton police arrested and charged a 24-year-old man from the city last week with aggravated sexual assault.
At a news conference at Central Station on June 29, Det. Sergeant Steve Berezuik confirmed that a witness saw the sex worker walk into an alley with her suspect and heard her scream for help a short time later.
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Vermillion is encouraging vigil attendees to wear red clothing in solidarity with sex workers, as well as carry banners, signs and other signs of support.
The vigil will feature a musical guest, as well as a speech by the victim’s mother at her own insistence.
“Really, we are doing this for the mother. We’re doing this to show that we care,” Vermillion said, “we’re doing this to reprimand the violence that is done to the bodies of sex workers.”
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