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Prostitution has moved indoors, which means safety for sex workers and privacy for clients. But did anyone check with the neighbours? A nother gloomy afternoon in November. The only relief comes from the glow of a nearby convenience store and, further down the street, a few perky mom-and-pop-type ethnic eateries and an insurance office.
There is one bright spot on this nondescript block of Hastings Street: A tiny woman, she wears sheepskin-lined slippers and something that looks like a lab coat over black stretch pants and a low-cut tank top. No lipstick, no eye shadow, no makeup except giant false eyelashes on her round, friendly face. No rings, no nail polish, no earrings. Both Christine and her husband—factory workers in a big government operation in their hometown of Shanghai—came to Canada four years ago.
He eventually went back, discouraged, unable to find work. We worry about our future. Canada is a nice country. They follow the law. If you make a deal, you get a good commission. But in reality, there are now mini red-light districts everywhere, from the upscale West Side to Kingsway all the way to Abbotsford. Some have the strings of lights.
On East Hastings near Boundary, a business on the ground floor of an office building advertises with a simple sign that has the business name in pink neon and the phone number in yellow. Strung sloppily to the fence in front is a yellow banner with a more explicit message: Mangat, whom others in the business say was destroyed by the publicity, left to study nursing outside Canada.
Nineteen months after she was arrested, the charges were stayed. Such arrests are usually splashed briefly in the media in breathless stories that, gosh, sex is for sale in the city, then are quickly forgotten.