Despair in the DTES.

From the National Post, last year:

Years after Pickton’s arrest, the killings have stopped in the Downtown Eastside, the violence has not.

Sam has stepped away from her corner for a quick cigarette. It’s a slow night, mid-week, and she’s willing to talk. “Nobody likes this,” she says. “I’d rather be somewhere else, doing something better with my life.” Sam is a prostitute, one of about 400 who work the so-called low track, an outdoor stroll consisting of a dozen dark alleyways and side streets in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, a neighbourhood filled with junkies, predators and creeps.

They call this survival sex work, and it’s as ugly as it gets. Men come here in vehicles for cheap thrills, and they treat the women — most of them drug addicts, about half of them aboriginal — like dirt. “Bad dates” are angry, aggressive guys who think it’s their right to belittle and threaten the women, hurt them. Or worse.

This is where dozens of women worked before disappearing. It’s where Robert “Willie” Pickton prowled about in a red pick-up truck. Pickton took prostitutes from these streets to his messy pig farm in suburban Port Coquitlam, where he murdered them. Pickton was arrested in 2002 and charged with 26 counts of murder, and convicted of six counts of murder in 2007. The remaining 20 charges were stayed.

What has changed? The killings may have stopped, but the violence has not.

“Things are actually worse,” says Dave Dickson, a former Vancouver police officer who walked a beat in the Downtown Eastside for most of his 28-year career, which began in 1980. Mr. Dickson now works for a social service agency in the neighbourhood and keeps in touch with local sex trade workers, at least one of whom he knows began working at the age of 10.

The rest of the article is recommended reading: link.