Driving home with her husband, David, from a football game at 11:55 p.m. on Aug. 21, Dianne Rowan noticed something pink in the tiny park adjacent to her house in the quiet Vancouver suburb of Surrey. Suddenly the car’s headlights illuminated a grotesque scene: sprawled on the grass three metres from the street was the body of a young woman clad in a pink blouse and a short purple plaid skirt with a green necktie twisted tightly around her throat. Donna Rose Kiss, a 25-year-old prostitute, had been strangled by a murderer who was still at large late last week. To some Vancouver prostitutes, ordered by judges not to work in the city’s core, the murder was gruesome confirmation of a dangerous new twist in their trade.
They say that the courts are driving them out into unfamiliar and sometimes dangerous areas—like the poorly-lit corner of the King George Highway in Surrey where Kiss was last seen alive by people at a nearby Tim
Horton donut shop. Earlier this summer police had twice arrested Kiss downtown on charges of communicating for the purpose of prostitution, and on June 8 provincial court Judge Erik Bendrodt ordered her to stay out of the city centre.
The Criminal Code’s revised Section 195.1, Canada’s tough new antisoliciting law which came into effect last December, gives police more power to arrest prostitutes. But in April, B.C. Attorney General Brian Smith in-
structed prosecutors to ask the courts to impose area restrictions on accused prostitutes and clients both as a condition of bail and upon conviction. As a result, more than 300 people sentenced in the province since April are now subject to area restrictions. But Marie Arrington, an organizer of Vancouver’s Prostitutes and Other Women for Equal Rights, says that the courts are trying to make all of Vancouver a restricted zone. And she blames the courts for Kiss’s death. Said Arrington, who had known Kiss for two years: “If she didn’t get an area restriction, she’d still be alive.”
Kiss, a 110-lb. blue-eyed brunette, had worked along a well-lit portion of Davie Street while her boyfriend, Bruce Craig, 41, kept watch from a hotel restaurant on the other side—until she was banished from downtown. Then she moved to Surrey where she solicited customers by pretending to hitchhike. But Anthony Serka, the lawyer who acted for Kiss during her
trial, says he does not believe the court action was responsible for his former client’s death. Said Serka: “They
should be used with the utmost care, but area restrictions don’t kill people.” Meanwhile, Vancouver regional Crown counsel Robert Wright said that prosecutors will continue to ask for restrictions on prostitutes “until they are all off the streets.”
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