Pubdate: Tue, 27 Nov 2007
Source: Edmonton Sun (CN AB)
Copyright: 2007 Canoe Limited Partnership.


Youth have the Kids Help Phone to turn to for support.

Now, local prostitutes will soon have their own hotline  to call.

The support line, a project of the Prostitution  Awareness and Action 
Foundation of Edmonton, has  already begun training seven former 
prostitutes who  will volunteer to staff the phones. The goal is to 
make  help available outside of the agency's business hours  to 
prostitutes needing support, said Dawn Hodgins,  PAAFE's special 
projects co-ordinator.

The plan so far is to have the peer counsellors work  from their 
homes, where they'll have a phone set up to  receive calls from the 
hotline number. The goal is to  have the system running some time 
next year, Hodgins  said.

Hodgins made the comments during a session at the  Issues of 
Substance event on drug and alcohol abuse at  the Shaw Conference 
Centre today. Participants in the  session also heard from police 
Insp. Brian Nowlan, who  described how the sex trade in Edmonton is 
largely fuelled by drugs.

"We found out in short that the problem we have in  Edmonton is not 
prostitution. It's simply drug  addiction," Nowlan said at the session.

While prostitution has been a growing issue in the  city, Nowlan said 
police in recent years have started  working not only to enforce the 
laws against the sex  trade, but also to find help for people on the streets.

Under the Snug program, for example, police make sure  support 
agencies are available to help prostitutes  whenever they do a sting.

As a result, the arrested prostitutes can be  immediately referred to 
a drug-treatment program or get  help finding housing as an 
alternative to working the  streets.

So far, police find about half the prostitutes they  encounter want 
the help. Nowlan added that of those who  go into the program, 
roughly half have left the sex  trade.
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