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guiding principles

Maggie's was founded in 1986 following decades of sex worker activism in Toronto. 

Peggy Miller and Danny Cockerline worked to build an organization that provided room for Sex Work advocacy while creating space for community support, outreach and education by and for local sex workers.

Our guiding principles steer the growth and development of all programming, services, education and outreach at Maggie's. 

We are not an exit organization. We are founded on the belief that to improve our lives, sex workers must take back the power to control our own destinies. That is why Maggie’s exists first and foremost as an organization for sex workers, that is controlled by sex workers because we know that nothing about us, without us, is for us. 

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Poster of Luscious Lips

Sex work is socially legitimate, important and valuable work. 

Our movement for SW justice often uses the phrase "SW is real work." We believe SW is real, legitimate and valuable work in our communities. 

We recognize that there are many different forms of SW. Our definition of SW is deliberately broad to include a range of erotic labour + services. All SW is equally valid, whether it be dancing, street work or domination- we are entitled to labour rights; the right to form unions or professional associations; the right to work independently, collectively or for a third party; and the right to occupational health and safety. We are an important piece of local and International labour movements.

Finally we must stress that SW deserve to live, work and thrive in our communities not only because of our status as workers or our relationship to capital.  We deserve human rights, dignity and compassion first and foremost because we are people.

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SW is a job selling some form of sexual service. Trafficking is coerced or forced labour. 

When SW is conflated with human trafficking, SW are stripped of our agency and our ability to advocate for workplace rights, health and safety, and expand our ability to challenge harmful stereotypes about SW and criminalization.

Our communities are key allies in the fight against human trafficking and SW perspectives on criminalization, policing and the harms of anti-trafficking campaigns signing out our workplaces, racially profiling our communities and expanding the use of police power, authority and surveillance in our communities.

Library Books

We recognize that Sex Work is not the same as human trafficking. 

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Toronto

Sex worker empowerment stops human trafficking. 

Current anti-trafficking laws and policies often do more harm than good, leading to further stigma, criminalization, police harassment, violence, extortions and deportations of migrant sex workers while disregarding their actual concerns or needs.

Maggie's supports effective, evidence-based solutions to the problem of human trafficking that locates sex workers as a key part of the solution. We support open borders and labour and human rights for undocumented workers.

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Most of the problems sex workers experience are a result of legal and social systems that disregard our rights and worth. We work to end these oppressive systems, not to “rescue” sex workers. 

Dark Portrait

Sex work is not intrinsically dangerous, oppressive or exploitative. 

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Dollar Notes

Selling sex is a pragmatic and sensible response to a limited range of options. 

Where people are doing sex work but would rather not be, it is this lack of options that is the problem – not sex work itself. Women, young people, trans women, people of colour and Indigenous people often face limited economic options. For many, sex work is the best or only option for work and we work to improve the conditions of work.

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Some face additional oppressions based on racism, colonialism, sexism, transphobia (trans-misogyny in particular), poverty, and homophobia because they have been to prison, use drugs, are youth, or because they have disabilities. Often these sex workers face much higher rates of violence and discrimination. We centre the experiences of these sex workers who are the most directly impacted by violence and discrimination in our analysis, in building broader and stronger coalitions and in developing holistic solutions that address all the issues that affect sex workers' lives.

Protest March Signs

The oppression of sex workers does not affect everyone the same way.

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Hands Up

We call for
the total decriminalization of SW in Canada.

We advocate for the removal of all laws that criminalize sex work and an end to all forms of violence, discrimination and harassment of sex workers. 

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We recognize that sex workers are safer sex professionals and oppose public health policies such as mandatory testing that are founded on stereotypes about us that persecute sex workers rather than genuinely improve public health.

We advocate evidence-based approaches to HIV and other STI’s that are led by the experts - sex workers. We recognize that the risk of HIV and other STI's is directly related to poor working conditions created by criminalization and stigmatization.

Woman in Garden

Sex Workers Are Safe Sex Professionals Invested In Public Health Strategies

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Earth and Space

Sex worker justice is a global movement for human rights.

We are a part of the international sex worker’s rights movement and support efforts to advance the human rights of sex workers at home and abroad.

We work in coalition with people, organizations and collectives that support our principles.