How the Killings of New Westminster Escorts Relates to New Prostitution Laws

This week, charges were laid against Sarbjit Bains who allegedly killed three people. Two of those killed were escorts, Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors, and the other person killed was a man who appears to have no connection to these women.

What drew me to write about this case was what we know about these women and how that relates to the recent supreme court decision to strike down the anti-prostitution laws that exist in this country.

In case you didn’t know, we are heading towards the emergence of legal brothels within our communities, along with the ability for persons to communicate openly with clients and live on the avails of prostitution. One of the arguments set forth by those in favour of this approach is that prostitutes will be safer and able to conduct their business openly – which takes them out of the shadows and into plain sight. OK, well then let’s take a look at Ms. Lyons and Ms. Nabors:

Internet search bar with phrase prostitution

1. Both women were online escorts who ran their own separate businesses and were killed within two weeks of each other. They lived in separate units within the same complex – not on the mean streets.

2. They made a home and business in what appears to be a decent apartment building with plenty of neighbours in a community that does not have a reputation for unusual levels of crime.

3. One of the escorts, Jill Lyons, we know had an addiction problem for which her family has come out and said she was hoping to receive treatment. (As such, her only option for the future would have been to continue her business as is because she would have failed a health check at a legit brothel)

4. Both were said to be mothers who worked as online escorts and for all we know had agency over who they saw and when.

5. They were reported to be friends and certainly had the ability to communicate with each other for protective purposes if need be – one would think.

6. These women died alone and without one person hearing their distress despite being in a room within a building that had other people only steps away.

So my question is: If these women were still conducting their business openly as escorts, one year from now, in the same home, then under this new law what would have prevented Bains from killing them? 

We don’t know what drove either of these women to this life. We do know that at least one of them clearly didn’t appear to be a “happy and empowered escort” if she drugged herself up. What I do know is that under the new laws we will still see women like this battered and killed because there is a deep-seeded hatred of, or indifference towards, women who are paid for sex.

Mr. Bains had access to both these women and killed them. They are dead. They are a representation of many women across this world who are buried in the ground not because laws were antiquated or they didn’t take precautions or that they did not have a place from which to operate their business. These women are dead because they were seen as objects created to be used and harmed.  Their lives were cut short because those who pay to use them are permitted to see them as nothing more than parts.

I want you to put yourself in Ms. Lyons and Ms. Nabors last moments. I want you to imagine what you might have seen and felt. Then tell me whether you would have “chosen” to be ANYTHING but a prostitute.



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