The view that prostitution subordinates and victimizes women and girls is not particularly popular, but I have seen it first-hand when I lived on Granville Street in the early 1970's and in Vancouver's west end in the 80's. The image of a "happy hooker" is a Madison Avenue gimmick that has no basis in reality. When my husband, Doug, ran the Vancouver Vice Squad, I saw again the squalor and exploitation of young, addicted woman, both tragic and poignant.
Advocates have long argued that the mistreatment of sex workers is a byproduct of endemic stigma and criminalization, which expose workers to discrimination, violence, structural poverty, and the increased threat of sexual assault and sexually transmitted disease. Though many sex workers do struggle with economic or social hardship, activists say the trade's underlying moral problem lies not with the profession, but with the society that systematically condemns it.