Sex workers held a candlelit vigil in London on Wednesday to mark the international day to end violence against sex workers.
Organised by the English Collective of Prostitutes, the protesters held signs such as Criminalisation makes sex workers
vulnerable to rape, decriminalise now!
Another held a colourful home-made placard reading sex work is work!
Holding candles, the crowd held gathered in Soho. The protest was to demand an end to criminalisation, stigma and
poverty which makes us vulnerable to all forms of violence and exploitation, the campaign group said in a statement.
A repressive new to endanger sex workers by banning paying for sex in Northern Ireland has passed its final stage in the Stormont Assembly.
The region will become the first part of the UK to introduce such oppressive restrictions of liberty when the
Bill receives the formality of royal assent.
The law change, championed by Democratic Unionist Assembly member Lord Morrow, has been hailed by Christian groups but denounced by prostitutes' representatives.
The fate of the Bill's
contentious clause six, proposing the ban on purchasing sex, was uncertain at the outset of a crunch debate in October, with Sinn Fein's decision to back the prohibition with the DUP proving crucial.
The Consenting Adult Action Network campaigns against UK censorship and the repression of people's enjoyment of sex.
The group publishes occasional bulletins when campaign matters arise and there are several relevant issues on the agenda at the
moment. Bulletin 4 covers the following developments:
'Tiger Porn' case gives rise to Judicial Review of extreme porn law
One of the worst cases of the misuse of S63(7) CJIA 2008
legislation (which criminalises people for possession of extreme pornography ) was the prosecution of Andrew Holland for possessing a comic video clip of a woman apparently having sex with a tiger (actually, a man in a tiger suit). The prosecution
had a devastating impact upon Andrew's life but was eventually dropped by the CPS. The circumstances of this case are quite appalling. The excellent campaigners in Backlash have provided the support needed to help Andrew obtain professional legal
advice. In October Hodge Jones & Allen LLP solicitors began the legal process to challenge the compatibility of S63 with ECHR....
Rape porn Bill introduced to Parliament (England, Wales and NI)
In February the government introduced a Bill to Parliament that will extend S63(7) CJIA 2008 to criminalise the possession of pornography that depicts rape. It is argued that it may have greater implications for the general public than the first four categories that were originally criminalised. This is because material that depicts rape can be difficult to define....
The battle to stop the criminalisation of the purchase of sex: Modern Slavery Bill
The Modern Slavery Bill is currently working its way through Parliament. A few days ago an MP proposed an amendment
which would insert a clause to criminalise the purchase of sex. The English Collective of Prostitutes jumped and in a very short space of time managed to get hundreds of people to write to Bill Committee members asking them to oppose the amendment. We
won... MP's did not support the amendment....
Out for Xmas: everything you need to know about the regulation of online smut
Taming the Beast, by Jane Fae, a comprehensive overview of the legal and
technical measures taken in the UK to combat online pornography, should now be out in time for Christmas...
More than one in 10 men have paid for sex, according to a major study of British sexual habits.
The majority of the 11% who had done so had visited sex tourism hotspots such as Bangkok and Amsterdam.
The report, in the journal Sexually
Transmitted Infections, said that young professionals rather than lonely older men were paying. The most likely age group to have recently paid for sex were those in their late 20s and early 30s. Other characteristics of those likely to pay for
sex included being single, having a managerial or professional job and drug use. Nearly two-thirds of them reported paying for sex abroad, with Europe and Asia being major destinations.
A team at University College London analysed data from the
Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Just 0.1% of the women aged 16-74 surveyed had paid for sex, but 11% of the men said they had at some point in their lives. Of the 6,108 men surveyed, 3.6% had paid for sex in the past five years
and 1.1% in the past year.
But that comes with a price. The men who had paid for sex in the past five years were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as HIV, syphilis or gonorrhoea. Holiday sex
Last week there was a parliamentary debate where Labour amendments to criminalise people who buy sex were dropped. A Labour MP, John McDonnell made a fine contribution that is well worth recording for posterity on Melon Farmers.
John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington) (Lab):
To turn briefly to the new clauses and the amendment tabled in relation to prostitution, I apologise to all Members of the House for inundating them with briefings over the past 48 hours. I am very sorry, but this debate came up in a hurry, and it
was important to give people the chance to express their views. I have always respected my hon. Friend the Member for Slough (Fiona Mactaggart), who is very well intentioned. I support new clause 7 because developing a strategy is critical, and amendment
1, which is the decriminalisation amendment, but I am fundamentally opposed to new clause 6, because it is worrying, counter-productive and dangerous. New clause 22 would give us the opportunity and enough time to undertake a proper review.
I know that sex work is abhorrent for some Members. I must say that in the years since I convened some of the first meetings of the Ipswich Safety First campaign in this House, after five women were killed there, I have met a number
of men and women who were not coerced into sex work and do not want their livelihoods to be curtailed by the proposed criminalisation of their clients. It is true that I have met many others who entered prostitution to overcome economic
disadvantage---they suffered in poverty to enable them to pay the rent and put food on the table for their children---but that has been made worse by welfare benefit cuts, escalating housing costs and energy bills. The answer is not to criminalise any of
their activities, but to tackle the underlying cause by not cutting welfare benefits and ensuring people have an affordable roof over their heads and giving them access to decent, paid employment.
The whole issue has focused on
the idea that by stopping the supply of clients, prostitution will somehow disappear, as will all the exploitation, trafficking and violent abuse. The Swedish model has been suggested as an example, but there was absolutely overwhelming opposition to it
in the briefings that I have circulated. Those briefings have come from charities such as Scot-Pep---the Scottish Prostitutes Education Project---which is funded by the state; the Royal College of Nursing, the nurses themselves; and the Global Network of
Sex Work Projects, which is another Government-funded organisation to get women and others off the game, that nevertheless says that the Swedish model would be counter-productive.
The Home Office has commissioned academic
research, and I have circulated a letter from 30 academics from universities around the country that basically says that the proposed legislation is dangerous. We must listen to sex workers: the English Collective of Prostitutes, the Sex Worker Open
University, the Harlots collective, the International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe---flamboyant names, but they represent sex workers, and all are opposed to the criminalisation of clients.
Could my hon. Friend quote some sources from Sweden? I understand that in Sweden they do not take that view.
John McDonnell: I will come straight to that point, but let me go through the other organisations we have
listened to: lawyers, human rights bodies such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and UN Aid, and even the women's institute down in Hampshire---I warn hon. Members never to cross the women's institute anywhere---as well as members of the
Ipswich Safety First coalition who dealt with the deaths those years ago.
What is the consensus? It is that there is no evidence that criminalising clients as in the Swedish legislation reduces the number of either clients or sex
workers. I could quote at length---time we have not got---from the Swedish Government's report that demonstrates that there is no correlation between the legislation they introduced and a reduction in numbers of clients or sex workers.
Fiona Mactaggart: My hon. Friend said that the Swedish Government have no evidence for that, which is true, but they did have evidence that the number of men who pay for sex in Sweden has gone down significantly.
John McDonnell: That was one survey where men who were asked, Do you pay for sex, because you could be prosecuted for it? naturally said no. The evidence has been challenged. The other part of the consensus concerns the
argument that other Governments are now acting and following the Swedish model, but South Africa has rejected it, and Scotland rejected it because measures on kerb crawling were introduced. In France, the Senate has rejected that model on the basis that
sex workers will be put at risk. There are even threats of legal action in Canada on the issue of the safety and security of sex workers.
The other consensus that has come from these organisations is that not only do such measures
not work, they actually cause harm. We know that because we undertook research through the Home Office in 2005-06. What did it say? Sex workers themselves were saying, It means that we never have time to check out the clients in advance. We are rushed
and pushed to the margins of society as a result, which does us harm.
There are alternatives. I do not recognise the view on the implementation of decriminalisation in New Zealand mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for
Slough, because all the research says that it is working. Who says that we should look at decriminalisation? The World Health Organisation, UN Women and UNAIDS. I circulated a letter from Nigel Richardson, who is not just a lawyer who represents sex
workers but also acts as a judge. He says that we can tackle abuse and sexual exploitation with existing laws.
I appeal to the House not to rush to legislate on such a contested issue where there is such conflicting research,
evidence and views. New clause 22 would provide a way through as it would enable us to undertake the necessary research, consult, bring forward proposals, and legislate if necessary. I want to include in that consultation the New Zealand model and full
decriminalisation. I am not in favour of legalisation; I am in favour of full decriminalisation. On that basis we should listen to those with experience. I convened some meetings with the Safety First coalition to brief Members on what it had done. It
invested money in the individuals---£7,000 a prostitute---and it got people out of prostitution by investing money, not by decriminalising them.
Reverend Andrew Dotchin was a founder member of the Safety First coalition. He
I strongly oppose clauses on prostitution in the Modern Slavery Bill, which would make the purchase of sex illegal. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of
women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for women.
I fully support the Reverend Andrew Dotchin in his views.
This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net ) have prepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims to criminalise sex workers' clients.
your objections (model letter below) to the clause as soon as possible. It will be discussed next Tuesday 4 November in the Report Stage of the Bill. Please send letters to the Chair of the Modern Slavery Bill Committee
Frank Field MP , the rest of the committee and to
John McDonnell MP .
Briefing against clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services.
An amendment and two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP aim to make the purchase of sex illegal, remove the criminal sanctions against prostituted women and provide support to women who want to leave prostitution
We support the amendment which would remove the offence of loitering and soliciting for women working on the street . This decriminalisation should be extended to sex workers working from premises. The brothel-keeping
legislation should be amended so that women can work more safely together. In 2006, the Home Office acknowledged: . . . the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone.
We strongly oppose the clauses criminalising clients , on the basis of women's safety. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making
it more dangerous and stigmatising for women.
Any benefit from decriminalising loitering and soliciting will be cancelled if clients are criminalised. Women will have to go underground if clients are underground. Kerb-crawling
legislation has already made it more dangerous for prostitute women and men. In Scotland, since kerb-crawling legislation was introduced in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers have soared. Attacks reported to one project almost doubled in
one year from 66 to 126.
Many of the claims that have been made about the impact of the 1999 Swedish law which criminalised clients are false and have no evidential basis.
The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.
The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.
Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex
workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).
Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.
The criminalisation of clients increases women's vulnerability to violence.
The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.
Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and
ignore the economic reality that many women face.
An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.
The successful New Zealand model
has been ignoredexamples being ignored?
The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety
The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland  and in France.
Sex workers and campaigners joined forces in the House of Commons to lobby against sections of new Bill which would criminalise clients.
Members of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) argued that some clauses of the Modern Slavery Bill
could increase the dangers faced by sex workers. ECP spokeswoman Niki Adams said:
We strongly oppose the criminalisation of clients, on the basis of women's safety. Despite claims that loitering and soliciting may be
decriminalised, this will have little effect if clients are criminalised.
Prostitution will be pushed further underground, disrupting informal security systems among women on the street and displacing women into remote areas.
Offering solidarity at the event were members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos said:
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to criminalise individuals who are
consenting adults having sex.
On health alone it is not sensible to criminalise people because it changes their behaviour and puts them at risk.
Fiona Taggart's amendment to criminalise the buying of sex was withdrawn without a vote.
The government and many MPs didn't seem to have an appetite to include controversial elements to a bill seemingly enjoying the support of most MPs. The only
debate was that Labour wanted to go further than the Tories in measures against the wider remit of trafficking.
As soon as the topic of prostitution was raised it was clearly that some sort of decision had already being taken. An amendment was
proposed that would require the government to review prostitution policy. It seemed widely accepted that far reaching changes of policy on prostitution would be better addressed with some sort of formal reviews being undertaken first. Even Fiona Taggart
seemed to concur that it would be better to go this route rather than suddenly declaring large numbers of men to be criminals. So her amendment did not proceed after these comments and was presumably withdrawn.
But the Taggart's speech triggered a
few strong pro and anti speeches that gave a flavour of the controversy the government seemed keen to avoid.
The amendment to require the review was defeated in a vote. However it did seem to reflect an approach that went down well with MPs. The
timing of being at the end of the 5 year term of this parliament seemed to make it all a bit doubtful for the moment...but the idea has been implanted for the future.
Update: The sex workers are unsurprisingly well pleased
We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper
MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.
This is a massive
victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short notice, drew a good crowd.
The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps, queers and anti-racists opposed to
this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.
MP John McDonnell's contribution to the debate in the Commons today was outstanding -- we have been
worked closely with him over many years, including on defeating this measure. He made reference to the wide range of opposition, quoting from some of the many briefings and letters people had sent him, and countered the false claims put forward by those
As a result of so many people acting so quickly and so effectively we are now in a stronger position to demand full decriminalisation.
In an unusual coalition, the two main opposing parties of Northern Irish politics have joined forces to pass new legislation on human trafficking, with the result that clients of sex workers will now be criminalised in Northern Ireland. Until just before
the late-night vote on Tuesday 21st October, it was unclear how Sinn Fein (the republican party, active in both Northern and the Republic of Ireland) would vote, and the bill was complex, with over 60 amendments. Clause 6 of the proposed Human
Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) bill contains the provision to criminalise clients of sex workers. It is already an offence to purchase sex from a trafficked person in Northern Ireland.
Lord Morrow, a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) tabled this private members bill, which was opposed by the Justice Minister, David Ford on the basis that it did not adequately address consensual sex work. An in-depth piece of research, commissioned by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, was released in the days preceeding the vote, but despite its clear and decisive conclusions, 81 MLAs voted for Clause 6 (10 voted against). The Committee for Justice advising on the bill also visited Sweden to gain information about the Swedish Model of criminalisation of clients, and heard evidence of a trafficking victim in an informal meeting.
The research from Queen's University
depicts a small but active sex work community in Northern Ireland, with an estimate of 350 sex workers active in the country per day, 20 of whom work outdoors. The report suggests that trafficking victims account for less than 3% of that number,
fewer than 10 people. More than a third of clients surveyed believed that paying for sex was already illegal. Of the 171 sex workers questioned, less than 2% supported criminalisation of clients, 61% saying that it would make them less safe.
Northern Ireland has a population of around 1.8 million people, but the research noted that both clients and sex workers were highly mobile, and frequently borders were crossed both to the Republic of Ireland and other countries in
Europe to engage in sex work.
Speaking to the BBC , one NI MLA explained that the law would be enforced using online surveillance,
since according to him, people pay for sexual services using credit cards. The Police Service of Northern Ireland have so far refused to comment on how the legislation would be enforced, but sex workers are widely known to rarely accept online or credit
card payment, partly because of the need for discretion, and partly since few third party payment providers will allow transactions of an adult nature.
Dr Jay Levy, author of "
Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden ", an in-depth analysis of 4 years of fieldwork on the subject, commented on the use of the
Swedish model in Northern Ireland: "There is no evidence that levels of trafficking (or sex work) have declined since the criminalisation of the purchase of sex was introduced in Sweden in 1999, and the law has exacerbated danger and difficulties
for sex workers. Northern Ireland's stating that this law will be used to target and reduce trafficking is nonsensical, given that there is no empirical data whatsoever to suggest it will have this effect, and given that the law is of great harm to sex
workers'wellbeing and safety."
In France, politicians voted to criminalise clients, but the bill was struck down in July by the French Senate Select Committee. A bill to criminalise clients of sex workers was similarly
considered in Scotland in 2013, but did not pass. The Northern Irish bill will also have to pass 3 further stages before becoming active legislation.
In November, MPs in England are scheduled to vote on an amendment to the Modern
Slavery Act which would similarly criminalise clients of sex workers. An All Party Parliamentary Group was convened last year to consider the evidence regarding suitable legal provision for sex work.
This motion updates and develops existing policy as set out in policy paper 3, Confronting Prostitution (1994). In particular it develops policy on the 'Merseyside model' in which crimes against sex workers are treated as hate crimes and rejects the
'Nordic model' of decriminalising sex workers but criminalising clients.
Towards Safer Sex Work
(Passed with no Amendments)
Conference notes that:
I. 'Sex work' encompasses a broad span of commercial activity that includes phone-line operators, webcam broadcasters, actors in the adult entertainment industry, escorts, and indoor as well as outdoor sex workers.
II. Prostitution in itself is legal but many of the related activities, such as solicitation and brothel keeping, are criminalised.
III. The decriminalisation of sex work has been Liberal Democrat policy
since the 1994 publication of policy paper 3, Confronting Prostitution.
IV. Sex workers are comprised of people in a variety of economic situations or from marginalised groups, including single mothers, students, men who have
sex with men, and transgender people saving so they can access adequate medical care.
V. Many sex workers engage in the trade of their own volition without economic coercion, often as a way to ensure financial stability and
even wealth completely on their own terms.
VI. Peer-reviewed high quality academic research, along with senior medical practitioners in the delivery of NHS sexual health services, provide strong evidence for
VII. States such as New Zealand have moved to a policy of decriminalisation of sex work with success in terms of the safety of sex workers where it has reduced cases of violence against sex workers.
VIII. Sex workers in New Zealand are allowed to work together and organise themselves in the way they see fit, can protect their safety much better, have more trust and a better relationship with the police which is more conducive
to detecting and punishing abuses.
IX. In England, the 'Merseyside Model' which treats violence against sex workers as a hate crime, has been implemented in several major cities, most notably Liverpool.
X. Amnesty International, from early 2014, engaged in a global consultation on sex work with a draft policy recommending decriminalisation, and at Amnesty's UK annual general meeting, a motion in support of decriminalisation of sex
work was 'comfortably' carried.
Conference welcomes the work of Liberal Democrats, in particular:
1. The 2011 Home Office Review of Effective Practice in Responding to Prostitution, signed by Lynne Featherstone MP as an Equalities Minister,
which argued for:
a) Safety to be made an overriding priority.
b) Translation services, ESL courses, and other language support for migrant sex workers.
c) Violence against sex workers to be
treated as a hate crime.
d) A focus of resources against the grooming of young women in care homes.
2. The announcement in 2011 by Lynne Featherstone MP of a £100,000 grant towards piloting an 'Ugly Mugs' scheme aimed at protecting sex workers, in conjunction with the UK Network of Sex Projects.
Prior to being a governing party, the opposition by Liberal Democrat MPs to provisions in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 aimed towards criminalising some aspects of sex work and working conditions brought forward by a majority Labour government. Conference expresses concern that:
i) Laws regarding solicitation and loitering force sex workers into isolated areas where they are at more danger of sexual and physical violence.
ii) Laws prohibiting brothel-keeping prevent sex
workers from working out of the same premises to ensure their own safety.
iii) Raids of saunas in Edinburgh and London were orchestrated with publicity in mind - including inviting the press to the raids in Soho in December
2013 - rather than for the welfare and privacy of the women in sex work.
iv) Studies promoting the criminalisation of clients or 'demand' often conflate legal migrants of an ethnic minority background with trafficked women in
a way that is tantamount to racism.
v) Approaches which criminalise the purchase of sexual services but not, overtly, the workers themselves, criminalise otherwise law abiding people and divert criminal justice resources away
from serious harms in society, including young people in care homes at risk of grooming, victims of trafficking, and migrant workers in domestic - and sometimes sexual - servitude.
vi) The enforcement of the above approach in
the 'Nordic' approach in Scandinavian countries had no appreciable effect in preventing violence against women or poverty, and has reduced negotiating power that street workers previously had.
vii) Just as the criminalisation
of homosexuality and abortion leads to unsafe practices regarding LGBT and women's healthcare respectively, criminalisation of sex work leads to unsafe sexual health practices.
viii) Immigration status, and not the welfare of
women suspected of being trafficked, is currently a priority within police forces.
ix) Sex workers invariably fear state violence and police brutality more than they fear violence from people masquerading as clients, or from
members of the public.
Conference believes that:
A. Laws against rape and sexual violence need to be strongly enforced, especially against people suspected of trafficking others.
B. There should be no bar towards consensual sexual activities between
any number of adults.
C. Every person has a right to bodily autonomy, and it is not for the State to decide what a they can or cannot do with their body, including engage in sex work if they so choose.
D. The abolition of sex work is not practically feasible without fully eradicating circumstances related to economic hardship, and cannot be sought through any prohibition on consensual sex work.
Decriminalisation of sex work would help engender better working conditions and sexual health practices among workers.
F. Decriminalisation would also help foster a positive culture where the importance of informed and
enthusiastic consent is paramount.
G. It is our responsibility as liberals to ensure that the most disadvantaged people in society are fought for just as hard as the least, and it is key that we should sometimes just amplify
their voices instead of offering our own.
Conference calls for:
Continued support the principles in policy paper 3 and the establishment of a Working Group to prepare an updated version of the policy paper that deals with the issue of sex work in the 21st Century.
In the interim, opposition to any steps to implement the Nordic model and reaffirmation of our support for decriminalisation of sex work, protections for survivors of violence against women, and the promotion of safer sexual health practices and better sex and relationship ethics, including in all tiers of the education system.
The 'Merseyside model', in which crimes against sex workers are treated as hate crimes, to be rolled out nationwide.
The promotion of solutions to the problem of international trafficking and
forced prostitution that do not endanger the lives of sex workers.
Work to be taken in conjunction with sex worker organisations to ensure the safety of workers, including reintroducing the Ugly Mugs scheme on a more
For our commitment for strong social and community safety nets to be reaffirmed, so that no person should be pressured to enter or be afraid to exit sex work at any time.
Applicability: England and Wales, except educational aspects of 'Conference calls for' 2 (lines 104-108) which are England only.
Consenting sex is not a crime. Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution; it will push it further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers.
Most sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers driven into the sex
industry by lack of economic alternatives to prostitution: unemployment, poverty, low and unequal wages. Many are young women trying to pay extortionate rents, university fees, debts . . .
Where is End Demand's outrage at UK benefit cuts and
sanctions which are hitting mothers and children hardest, at mothers skipping meals to feed their children or having to resort to food banks?
What they say about the Swedish model is misleading and hides the truth: 25% of Swedish single mothers
now live in poverty compared to 10% seven years ago; sex workers who are mothers face losing their children; sex workers facing violence are now too afraid to go to the police for protection as the stigma of prostitution has increased.
Party Parliamentary Group on prostitution which last year recommended the criminalisation of clients, refused to look at any of that. They have also refused to disclose how many of those who submitted evidence to them actually agreed with the
criminalisation of clients. John McDonnell MP has asked to see the submissions but the APPG has been unforthcoming so far. They also refused to look at how decriminalisation was working in New Zealand, and its positive impact of sex workers' health and
End Demand quotes Alan Caton, Suffolk's former Chief Superintendent. But the murders of five women in Ipswich in 2006 were preceded by a police crackdown. So were the murders of three women in Bradford in 2009-2010. Sex workers were
hounded and forced out of their established red light areas into bleak industrialised areas, away from the concerned eye of the community.
We are not the only ones to have noticed that crackdowns endanger women's lives. Mariana Popa, a young
immigrant mother, was murdered on the streets of Ilford, London, last October, in the wake of a police crackdown against clients. Following her death, senior police officers raised concerns that operations to tackle prostitution are
"counterproductive" and likely to put the lives of women at risk .
Chris Armitt, the national police lead on prostitution in England and Wales, also called for a review of enforcement tactics aimed at prosecuting prostitutes:
We are not going to enforce our way out of this problem. It simply won't work. I feel it would be good to allow a small group of women to work together, otherwise it creates a situation where they are working away from
other human support. I think the disadvantages of working alone outweigh the advantages.
While more and more time and resources are being diverted into policing prostitution, rape and child abuse continue on a mass scale despite
thousands of victims coming forward. Where were the police when children were being abused in Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford, and in children homes all over the country? Where were they when women and their children were killed by violent partners and
ex-partners? Where are they now when the same perpetrators continue to avoid prosecution? What is their connection to the perpetrators whose crimes they have aided and abetted?
Increasing the powers of police to deal with prostitution has already
resulted in more arrests, raids, stealing and seizing the earnings of sex workers, and other abuses of power and corruption. No one who is calling for the criminalisation of clients has shown any interest in this.
The North of Ireland Assembly has
just voted to criminalise clients. But Scotland has refused and so has France. It is time to look at decriminalisation and that's what we are campaigning for.
Around 17,000 men in Northern Ireland, 3% of the adult male population, pay for sex each year, according to new research.
The first report of its kind on prostitution found that criminalising prostitution here would put sex workers in greater danger,
was unlikely to deter customers and almost impossible to police.
Queen's University questioned 171 sex workers online, 31 of which said they lived in Northern Ireland while 62 said they had sold sex here. Also quizzed were 446 people who had paid
for sex, 51 of whom live here and 89 who had purchased it in Northern Ireland.
The research found:
61% of sex workers thought changing the law would make them less safe;
85% of sex workers believed outlawing the purchase of sex would not reduce sex trafficking;
2% of prostitutes supported criminalising the purchase of sex;
16% of clients said a change to the law would make them stop paying for sex.
Researches said there were around 350 sex workers available in Northern Ireland every day. The vast majority are online, with about 20 estimated to be involved in street prostitution, mostly in Belfast and Londonderry.
But of course the pleasures,
livelihoods and safety of so many people means little to many selfish politicians who seem to enjoy putting other people in prison so they can feel good about their own equality or whatever.
Now paying for sex is to be banned in Northern Ireland after
members at the Stormont assembly backed the proposal.
The human trafficking and exploitation bill was tabled before the assembly by Democratic Unionist peer Lord Morrow.
The fate of the bill's contentious clause six, proposing the ban on
purchasing sex, was uncertain at the outset of the debate, with Sinn Fein's decision to back the prohibition along with the DUP proving crucial. The clause was passed during the bill's consideration stage by 81 votes to 10 shortly after 11.30pm.
Stormont's justice minister, David Ford, leader of the cross-community Alliance party, opposed the clause.
While the legislation still has to pass further assembly stages, the significant majority support within the devolved administration means it is essentially now destined to become law.
The Liberal Democrats overwhelmingly reaffirmed their call to decriminalise prostitution at their Autumn Conference in Glasglow this week. While sex work is technically legal across the UK, strict prohibitions on soliciting and brothel ownership remain
on the books allowing for persecution such as a major raid conducted in SoHo last December by the London Metropolitan Police.
Although they're not exactly known for their business-friendly policies, the Lib Dems are leading the way on this
important issue of commerce. Other parties should take note: sex work is a legitimate line of business like any other, and sex workers should be treated with dignity under the law by way of complete legalisation of their practice.
This is not to
say that sex work is problem-free. Like any industry, there are bad actors. Some pimps may beat prostitutes for not obtaining enough business. Some brothels may purchase sex slaves from foreign traffickers. These practices should remain illegal and be
rectified by rigorous enforcement, and still would under the Lib Dem's proposal.
However, it's high time that the UK confronts the fact that this snapshot of the abused hooker is a stereotype that does not fit the vast majority of sex workers who
engage in the practice of their own consent. As Lib Dem member Sarah Noble explained at conference while introducing the proposal, They're moms and daughters, students and workers, rich and poor, and -- yes -- men and women. They are all human beings.
Sophie* is 22, studying at university and paying for it through sex work. She defines herself as an escort. Her student loan doesn't cover her accommodation and living costs, and her intensive five-year course does not allow for casual work shifts.
Sophie is resigned and bitter about the perception of sex work -- particularly the character of Belle du Jour. I hate it. Because, say I work for a hundred pounds an hour, that it makes it sound very classy, whereas I tend to be
going to real s***holes ... Yeah, it is a hundred pounds for an hour, but you can be thinking about that hour for the next month.
She wonders how her clients afford her, continuing, I don't like a lot of them. I wonder why
they're there. I'm wary of them, why they're not seeing women their age when they're a lot older than you.
Ron Roberts, a senior lecturer at Kingston University, maintains it is an issue ignored by
universities: Anything that actually draws attention to the reality of the conditions in which people have to study for their degree, i.e. extreme and definite financial hardship...they've got absolutely no interest in it.
Roberts claims universities have become corporations, focused towards selling education - at the expense of student welfare. According to Roberts' research, published by Kingston and Leeds Universities, six% of students were involved in the sex industry, generating as much as ?355 million each year. The results were based on answers from 200 students across 29 institutions across the UK.
Student sex workers often separate into two distinct cases -- those that fall into sex work, often alongside drug use problems, and those that work with a clear end-point . These later
individuals often avoid the scant support networks as they are academically motivated and view their sex worker persona as distinct from their sense of self -- leading to strong feelings of isolation.
Comment: Censored whilst
claiming to be uncensored
3rd October 2014. From Alan
Interesting article about Sophie .
She does seem a bit naive. For example, her puzzlement at punters preferring her to women their own age seems a bit strange. I don't think it's that uncommon for an older man to find
younger women sexually attractive. I find twenty-something women sexually attractive, but don't flatter myself that they would return the compliment to my sexagenarian carcass. I would feel ethically constrained not to offer such a young woman money for
sex, but have no great difficulty understanding why some men of my age may not be so scrupulous.
Roberts' survey seems sound enough to me, based on a sample of 200. Qualitative methodologies don't need huge samples, and in some
disciplines much smaller numbers may suffice. Universities UK didn't refute it, by the way: they disagreed with it, or pretended to do so because they didn't like his conclusions.
I think there's also a serious omission in
the article's assertion that Student sex workers often separate into two distinct cases -- those that fall into sex work, often alongside drug use problems, and those that work with a clear end-point . This omits the case of student
sex workers who consciously choose to continue sex work after graduating. The woman who is probably the UK's top professional submissive/spanking erotica actress has continued in sex work after gaining her doctorate. There may be some questions to be
asked about a society in which a woman with a Ph.D. (awarded, I believe, for medically useful research in organic chemistry) can do better financially by having her arse spanked.
Official figures are expected to show that illegal drugs and prostitution, which represent 0.7pc of GDP, are help out Britain's ailing economy. The inclusion of prostitution and illegal drugs are expected to boost the economy by around
£ 10bn a year. £ 5.3bn of the UK's gross domestic product has been attributed to prostitution
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that in 2009, the most
recent year for which the ONS has published data, £ 5.3bn was attributable to prostitution while illegal drugs were worth 4.4bn. Together, they amount to around 0.7pc of
the UK economy, or roughly the same amount as agriculture.