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  • Writer's pictureHannah Johnston

La Sortie presents a housing project for women who have experienced sexual exploitation.

While the province commemorates the tragic Polytechnique femicide on December 6th, violence against women takes on another perspective in the form of sexual exploitation. Police-reported incidents of human trafficking in 2021 show that 96% of victims are women and girls. In many scenarios, these incidents have serious consequences and too often end in death [1].

A La Sortie informational video (2019): **Trigger warning: mentions of sexual violence and suicide.**

As a result of research work published in 2019 [2], La Sortie's housing initiative aims to offer affordable, safe housing with personalized services to women who have experienced sexual exploitation. In summary, the 548 women participating in this study affirmed four key elements: Affordability, Security, Autonomy, and Services. Located on the island of Montreal, the construction of the 15-apartment building involves the participation of the Quebec Affordable Housing Program [3] and the Montreal Housing Service, and can accommodate up to 19 women.

PHOTO: La Sortie

On December 6th, a 5 to 7 will be held at La Verita, in DDO, to present the project details, testimonials, and the future prospects of La Sortie. The building will have the following characteristics:

· Security: The building, whose address remains anonymous, is located on the West Island and is designed to offer a secure environment with a 24/7 staff presence.

· Autonomy: The building is accessible by public transportation and other amenities. Each apartment is equipped with a private bathroom and kitchen. There are 4 2-bedrooms, 9 1-bedrooms, and two studios. A code of conduct is put in place to optimize their independence.

· Services: The services offered by the building aim at social reintegration with a personalized action plan, workshops, social and professional skills development, and medical care.

· Affordability: Subsidized housing will offer affordable rent to women whose need for money and lack of housing are the main factors leading to entry into the sex industry.

La Sortie [4] is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. To celebrate this milestone, a series of 10 videos will be posted on social media over the ten days following the 5 à 7 to tell the story of La Sortie's ten years. Each capsule will end with a call for donations. Public support has always been present and allowed for community anchoring, thus enabling collaboration with public funders. Strongly supported by the government, La Sortie's current activities are supported by the Community Organizations Support Program of the CIUSSS de Montréal, the Justice Canada Victims Fund for Criminal Acts, the Public Security Quebec Sexual Exploitation Mission Financing Program, and the Quebec Secretariat for Women's Issues Prostitution Exit Program.

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