The mayor of Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve has been floating the idea of a zone where street prostitution would be tolerated in an attempt to move it away from residents unhappy with the current situation of open solicitation near their homes and businesses.
The prostitutes would be confined to a short, industrial stretch of Ste-Catherine in the borough.
Police have not given this plan their nod and Jocelyn Ann Campbell, the executive committee member for social development, has also slapped it down. (But note that borough mayor René Ménard is with Vision Montreal while Campbell, of course, is with the mayor’s party.)
Campbell’s quoted in the Gazette as saying prostitution is linked to poverty and drugs and you don’t get rid of it by hiding it. Fine, as far as it goes. I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that the women doing this work are safer if they’re on regular streets among ordinary people than if you push them onto an industrial road with no foot traffic and force them to do all their work by getting into cars with complete strangers with no witnesses to what happens.
I’m naive about this: do modern street prostitutes do all their work in cars? Are the women currently soliciting on foot in Hochelaga bringing customers back to a rented room? That would strike me as a whole hell of a lot safer than getting into someone’s car and hoping he’s not a maniac.
But I do know one thing: Prostitution always abides. You can repress it here, it’ll pop back up there. In that way it’s like homelessness – you can take measures that will reduce the number of people who have to resort to it, but there’s always going to be some of it going on in any big city.