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Friday, August 31, 2007

Massage parlours seen as safer option for sex-trade workers

(CBC) - The dangers of working the street are driving prostitutes to work in so-called massage parlours, Vancouver sex-trade workers say.

Vancouver police say Nicole Parisien, who was found dead Monday behind an apartment block in the Kitsilano neighbourhood, was working as a masseuse in a unit of the building. She was allegedly killed by a customer who was arrested Wednesday and charged with second-degree murder.

Working from home or from apartments in highrise buildings that are used solely for that purpose is the safer way to go in an unsafe business, said Sue Davis, a Vancouver prostitute who says she was assaulted as many as two or three times a day when she was working on the street.

Davis said she knows all about the so-called "in service" that was allegedly operating out of the building in Kitsilano.

"As these types of services go, this was one of the better ones,'' she said.

Other residents of the Kitsilano building, who were interviewed by CBC News, said the operation was so low-key that none of them knew it was a massage parlour.

These operations may be more common then most people realize, said Tamara O'Doherty, a masters student who has researched the sex trade.

She estimates that 80 to 90 per cent of Vancouver prostitutes work inside and are not stereotypical street walkers. They tend to field calls that are generated from ads placed either in newspapers or on the Internet.

Davis and O'Doherty both would like to see prostitution legalized.

It is a move, they say, that would help to improve the safety of women who work in a business that can sometimes turn deadly.



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