SWAN Vancouver (Supporting Women's Alternative's Network)

Contact email

SWAN is a collectively run non-profit in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, Canada. We provide outreach, advocacy, and education by and for newcomer, immigrant, migrant and indoor sex workers. 

Services include legal, health, safety, immigration and ESL information, one-to-one advocacy and support, outreach throughout the Lower Mainland, harm reduction supplies, public education, and more.

Who do you work with?

We are a culturally diverse group of women working to provide culturally appropriate and language-specific support, education, research, advocacy and outreach for newcomer, migrant and immigrant sex trade workers (women at indoor sex worksites). We work from a harm reduction and human rights based perspective that respects the rights of sex workers and the choices of individual women.

How are sex workers involved in your organisation?

Our group is made up of women from diverse cultural backgrounds including Canadian born and immigrants. Among us, we have women who speak several Asian languages. We come from a range of experience, directly and indirectly with off street sex work.

Which of NSWP priority areas does your organisation work on?
Oppose the criminalisation and other legal oppression of sex work and support its recognition as work
Critique the trafficking paradigm that conflates representations of sex work, migration, and mobility
Advocate for universal access to health services, including primary health care, HIV and sexual and reproductive health services
Speak out about violence against sex workers, including violence from police, institutions, clients, and intimate partners, while challenging the myth that sex work is inherently gender-based violence
Oppose human rights abuses, including coercive programming, mandatory testing, raids and forced rehabilitation
Challenge stigma and discrimination against sex workers, their families and partners, and others involved in sex work
Advocate for the economic empowerment and social inclusion of sex workers as sex workers
What are the two main challenges that the sex workers you work with face

Immigration status (undocumented women) makes them ineligible to programs and services for ‘legal’ immigrants. Also, lack of culturally and language appropriate services for sex workers.

Describe other areas of your work

• Outreach to immigrant women who work in off-street sex work sites
• Distribution of safer-sex supplies and information resources
• Connect women to healthcare workers through Street Nurse program
• Provide information and answer women’s question about the law.