The discovery of human remains in the community of Silver Creek near Salmon Arm has put the spotlight on an issue that those on the street have known about for years and years.
Women who work in the sex trade are in grave danger each and every day.
It’s a segment of the population that is one of the most at risk due to many things, not the least of which is the power that some men feel over women. Women who work in the sex trade face threats of violence, sexual predators, rape. And they face it every day.
As RCMP continue their investigation around the Silver Creek area, police are now expanding the scope as more reports of missing women come forward. But some are questioning why it has taken so long for police to act on something that has been well-known to those in the vulnerable community.
“Why are we just jumping on this when we see a bone and a body part?” said Angie Lohr of Kelowna-based HOPE Outreach. “Why didn’t the RCMP say there was a safety concern in August? Why did they wait three more weeks? What’s being done to safeguard these women?”
Lohr said she knows the RCMP are busy, but suspects that issues with sex trade workers fall to the bottom of the pile all too often.
It’s a reality that people living in northern BC have been living with for a long time with the number of missing and murdered women who live along Highway 16, what has been termed the Highway of Tears.
But now we know that this is not an issue that is just in northern B.C. and it’s not just in Salmon Arm, where five women are missing. It’s happening everywhere including in Kelowna where police are also still conducting their investigation into a woman who was found murdered in an orchard.
It’s not something that will be solved easily but more effort is needed in the communities that we live in. We can’t look away anymore, pretending that it’s not our problem. This is our city and there are people in danger every day.
Kudos to Kelowna tech company YodelMe, which stepped forward with an idea for a pilot project for sex trade workers that would geotag their location in an emergency.
We need more community thinking, more outside the box thinking, more help for the most vulnerable in our community.
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