Sex workers' rights - #SexWorkIsWork

Nick 0208 Ldn

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A two page briefing on the proposed criminalisation of the purchase of sex.

As an amendment to The Modern Slavery Bill, this proposal purports to tackle trafficking for sexual exploitation. That it could be rushed through as an amendment, without time taken to have an in-depth debate is profoundly concerning. When dealing with this complex issue policy makers need time to look at the evidence.

The evidence shows that this proposal fails on its own terms. In countries such as Sweden, where this law has been implemented, there is no evidence of a decrease in sex sold. In 2007, the Swedish National Board admitted: “It is difficult to discern any clear trend of development: has the extent of prostitution increased or decreased? We cannot give any unambiguous answer to that question”. It concluded that “no causal connections can be proven between legislation and changes in prostitution” (p7).

Furthermore, data from the Swedish Police suggests that this law leads to sex workers having an increased reliance
on potentially exploitative managers and bosses. Migrant sex workers are particularly vulnerable. In 2011, the Swedish Police admitted that they did not know the extent of trafficking in Sweden, stating: “it is difficult to estimate how many people fell victim to human trafficking in Sweden … It is not possible to identify or even to locate all of the victims, mainly girls and women, mentioned in tapped telephone calls or observed during police surveillance” (3.1). This runs counter to how the Swedish model is marketed by its proponents abroad - as a uniquely effective anti-trafficking measure. In fact, evidence from the Swedish police suggests the opposite: the law criminalising clients seems to have pushed more sex workers, especially migrant sex workers, into reliance on managers, bosses, and other potentially exploitative third parties. The Swedish Police, in their annual report on trafficking, noted:
“in 2009 … there were about 90 Thai massage parlours in Stockholm and vicinity, most of which were judged to be offering sexual services for sale. At the turn of 2011/2012, the number of Thai massage parlours in the Stockholm area was estimated to be about 250 and throughout the country about 450” (3.1). This is a threefold increase in three years.

This and other evidence has led to several international anti-trafficking organisations stating their opposition to laws that criminalise the clients of sex workers. European anti-trafficking network La Strada International urged countries to reject the Swedish model, stating: “The call for criminalisation of clients of sex workers is made in the name of preventing and combating trafficking in persons. [We] have supported many women and men who were trafficked in the sex industry in the past nearly two decades. We know from experience that criminalisation does not solve any of the problems. that our clients face, nor does it prevent or stop human trafficking”. They conclude, “The conflation of sex work and trafficking in persons leads to inadequate counter-trafficking policies and to counter-productive prostitution policies.”

The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) agrees with La Strada, stating: “It’s puzzling to see how such an ambiguous concept like ‘demand’ is used to simplify a complex issue as trafficking … ambiguity around ‘demand’ can often make catchphrases such as ‘trafficking is supply and demand’ more credible than they might otherwise appear” (p16). GAATW is against laws criminalising clients, highlighting that: “Evidence has shown ‘end demand for prostitution’ approaches don’t reduce trafficking: [these laws] ignore trafficking into other sectors; tend to rely more on ideology rather than sound evidence; confuse trafficking with sex work; increase stigma against sex workers, and [are] more focused on punishing men who pay for sexual services, rather than protecting women’s rights” (p28).

This is in line with recent guidance from UN Women, which notes: “... the conflating of consensual sex work and trafficking in human beings, leads to inappropriate responses that fail to assist sex workers and trafficked women in realising their rights. Furthermore, failing to distinguish between these groups infringes on sex workers’ right to health and self- determination, and can impede efforts to prevent and prosecute trafficking.”

This matches research conducted in the UK. A study done with the Metropolitan Police, and UK Home Office researchers, have both found that criminalising clients is ineffective at deterring clients and harmful to sex workers. An extensive study of street sex work in London, done with the support of the Metropolitan police and involving 300 hours of fieldwork with the Vice and Clubs Unit analysed over 500 police reports of men caught kerb-crawling. The researcher concluded that “the criminalisation of clients neither protects those involved in sex working nor deters clients” and that “it is hard to understand, from the empirical findings, what the justification is for the kerb-crawling laws at all”( p259). UK Home Office researchers found that the effect of laws targeting clients was that: “women, sometimes desperate to earn money to fund drug use, will still go out on the streets, often at a later hour, remaining there for longer, thus increasing their vulnerability ... in order to avoid the police, women have been found to spend less time negotiating business with clients, increasing the likelihood of being unable to spot a ‘dodgy punter’. It has been argued by police, the women and outreach workers that operations can have the effect of deterring the ‘decent punter’ whilst doing nothing to deter dangerous and violent individuals who commit crime against women involved in street prostitution” (p24).

Lord Fowler, the former health minister who in the 1980s spearheaded the UK’s fight against HIV, this summer called for full decriminalisation - the opposite of this amendment. He stated, “Are we prepared to recognise sex work and cooperate with sex workers, bringing them in to the policy dialogue, or do we call them prostitutes and assume they have no input?” Sex workers and trafficked people need better laws, but this amendment is not what we need. Sex workers, academics, and human rights experts across the UK and the world call on you to reject this amendment.

http://www.sexworkeropenuniversity....on-of-the-purchase-of-sex-modern-slavery-bill
 

Nick 0208 Ldn

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Academics concerns to the proposed amendment to the Draft Modern Slavery Bill – for the Joint Committee

Posted on November 3, 2014

2nd November 2014

Dear Rt Hon Frank Field MP and members of the Joint Committee on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill

On the basis of our collective [considerable] experience and robust research evidence on sex work in the UK, EU and internationally, we ask that you consider the following serious concerns we have with the proposed amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill that seeks to criminalize paying for sex.

First, any such criminalization of clients is de facto criminalization of sex workers – there is no known area in the sale of services where a seller is helped by criminalizing the buyer. This will have certain impacts on the safety of sex workers, who will be forced to make decisions about the potential risks posed by clients more quickly, and indeed take risks to ensure their livelihood is maintained. Moreover, blanket criminalization will divert resources away from pursuing serious crimes against sex workers and, indeed, anyone subject to forced labour.

Second, there is already an existing law designed to protect people who are forced into prostitution.

Third, the history of sex work is also the history of a range of piecemeal legislation that criminalizes a variety of ‘objectionable’ conduct. The proposed amendment is another example of simply adding to the current legislation without thinking about the bigger picture. The proposed amendment would be introducing a radical change to the legislation through the back door and criminalizing consensual sexual activities which are currently not illegal.

Fourth, there is a range of robust research that challenges the sense of taking an approach which criminalizes one party in the exchange relationship, with no credible academic research to support the criminalization of clients.

We ask that you give peer reviewed research its proper weighting in considering this amendment. See for example a special edition of Criminology and Criminal Justice: The Governance of Commercial Sex: Global Trends of Criminalisation, Punitive Enforcement, Protection and Rights. http://crj.sagepub.com/content/14/5?etoc . The research by Levy and Jakobsson demonstrates the detrimental effects of the Swedish law on the wellbeing and safety of sex workers there. Abel et al’s work in New Zealand evidences that an alternative approach – de-criminalizing sex work – is actually a safer and more superior alternative to criminalizing one or other of the partners in the exchange. See more at: http://www.policypress.co.uk/display.asp?k=9781847423344#sthash.H6iIs9HS.dpuf

Finally, It is telling that a Swedish government report lists its own flaws stating: ‘evaluating the effects of the ban has proved to be a difficult task’ because the surveys had ‘limited scope’ as well as ‘different working procedures, methods and purposes’ and ‘In the light of these and other factors, there can be reason to interpret the results with caution’ p34. (accessed 2/11/14 – http://www.government.se/content/1/c6/15/14/88/6dfbbdbd.pdf)

We are certain that you want what we all want – to prevent increasing the vulnerability of women, men and transgendered people who sell sex; to uphold the human rights of sex workers and others subject to trafficking and forced labour; and to bring those who groom, traffic and force human labour to justice. Criminalizing the purchasers of sex via the proposed amendment is not a sensible or safe option.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon, Birkbeck, University of London
Professor Maggie O’Neill , Durham University
Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Graham Scrambler, University College London
Professor Nick Mai, London Metropolitan University
Professor Ronald Weitzer, George Washington University
Professor Phil Hubbard, University of Kent
Professor Julia O’Connell Davidson, University of Nottingham
Professor Barb Brents, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Jane Pitcher, Loughborough University
Rosie Campbell OBE, University of Leeds & University of Durham,
Dr. Mary Laing, Northumbria University
Dr Erin Sanders-McDonagh, Middlesex University
Dr Nicola Smith, University of Birmingham
Dr Coleen Moore, Anglia University
Dr John Meadowcroft, King’s College London
Dr Lucy Neville, Middlesex University
Dr Teela Sanders, University of Leeds
Dr Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds
Dr Emily Cooper, Lancaster University
Dr Julia Laite, Birkbeck, University of London
Dr Graham Ellison, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Paul Maginn, University of Western Australia
Dr Alison Jobe, Durham University
Dr Dirk Schubotz, Queens University Belfast
Ursula Probst, Freie Universität Berlin
Matthias Lehman, Doctoral Researcher in Law, Queens University Belfast
Max Morris, Doctoral Researcher in Sociology, Durham University
Dr Tracey Sagar, Swansea University
Dr Paul Ryan, National University of Ireland, Maynooth
Dr Sarah Kingston, University of Lancaster

http://prostitutescollective.net/20...nt-draft-modern-slavery-bill-joint-committee/
The End Demand campaign :: http://enddemand.uk/



With cross-party support from Tory MPs to the Greens, might this be introduced into law? Those most vulnerable at the present would be even more so in the future [gangs and their victims being further out of reach of the authorities], for as the SWOU assert, this purports to be one thing yet achieves quite the contrary.

A broadly legalising approach would not only be helpfully honest, but more to the point actually see the ongoing safety and health of sex workers as a central objective. However with the political landscape in the UK being what it is, the chances of such being introduced in the anytime soon are slim. For many it is oh so much easier to maintain the stigma and pass laws such as this one, than make the provisions necessary for the reality, to show that duty of care.
 
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Silva

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It doesn't make any sense that they're going to do this despite knowing that it's going to be ineffective and probably make things worse for the people involved.
 

Sweet Square

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If you're having sex with a girl who doesn't get a choice it's rape.
Clearly it's true with regards to people who are being traffic but @Don't Kill Bill post wasn't really talking about people who are traffic but more about men who sleep with escorts rather sex slaves(Well it seemed that way to me although I could be wrong)
 

SteveJ

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Welcome back, Nick. :)
 

Nick 0208 Ldn

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It doesn't make any sense that they're going to do this despite knowing that it's going to be ineffective and probably make things worse for the people involved.
Agreed, and on the surface at least, seems to have a unashamed disregard for those women who don't fall into their category of exploitation. The security and longer term health of those who participate freely, is still left to chance or worse. Moreover, you can't see either the police or government being prepared to increase resources or support in any serious fashion, it sounds like a law fit for paper and political ends rather than the

This law would reflect poorly on people who claim to be liberal or of a social conscience IMO, and say less of any sense they might have.


Welcome back, Nick. :)
Hi Steve, how's things?

I can't guarantee that i'll be on here as frequently as i once was, although the CE is normally an interesting place during the run-up to a big election.
 
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LitterBug

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Doesn't matter. Escorts charge for company during which time what happens is decided between consenting adults.

For as long as prostitution is illegal there will always be ways around it.

One simply does not put a stop to the oldest profession in the world!
 

Sassy Colin

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I saw a program the other day on the legalised brothels in Germany, although I can't remember much about it. I think the conclusion was that it doesn't really make much difference to the exploitation of women, but seeing as it's out in the open now, the chances of something being done about exploitation might be improved.
 

jeff_goldblum

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Ultimately I think the exploitation will continue as long as there are men (or women) with the attitude that paying for sex means they have the right to treat the sex-worker as an object. The lack of political will to protect these people is tied up with a lot of other factors like racism, sexism and classism. These are societal attitudes that will only change in the medium to long-term. In the meanwhile bringing the trade into the legal sphere and regulating it is the best way to keep people safe.
 

Edgar Allan Pillow

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Ultimately I think the exploitation will continue as long as there are men (or women) with the attitude that paying for sex means they have the right to treat the sex-worker as an object.
I think this works only if prostitution was illegal. Make it legal, give them the rights and safety against mistreatment and we'll see a drop in those kind of violence.
 

jeff_goldblum

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I think this works only if prostitution was illegal. Make it legal, give them the rights and safety against mistreatment and we'll see a drop in those kind of violence.
Oh yeah I completely agree it would drop, but I don't think we'll see something approaching a truly safe prostitution industry (by comparison to other industries) until attitudes change. Prostitution in places like Amsterdam is legal but it hasn't stopped it being rife with abuse.
 

Edgar Allan Pillow

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Oh yeah I completely agree it would drop, but I don't think we'll see something approaching a truly safe prostitution industry (by comparison to other industries) until attitudes change. Prostitution in places like Amsterdam is legal but it hasn't stopped it being rife with abuse.
I think we all continue to look at it from a moral point of view, and so nothing improves. We should just treat it as any other kind of service (say like a massage or a mani/pedi etc) and make laws accordingly.
 

jeff_goldblum

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I think we all continue to look at it from a moral point of view, and so nothing improves. We should just treat it as any other kind of service (say like a massage or a mani/pedi etc) and make laws accordingly.
100% agree, the aim of the law should be to protect the sex workers not make a moral judgement on them.
 

Nick 0208 Ldn

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I think we all continue to look at it from a moral point of view, and so nothing improves.
Preconceptions about how one ought to express or experience their sexuality is probably the largest hurdle to overcome, not only now but at that point in the future when we have a legally defined and safer environment. Just look at the list of supporters for the End Demand campaign: you would like to think that they were well-meaning, yet their views were misguided and dangerous (only furthering a negative impressions through their moral judgements).

The scale of regulation needn't be vast by any means, we would after all be talking about what is a private matter between consenting adults. Attitudes amongst the police are something else however, with sex workers having little confidence in their willingness to help (in the event of abuse say), and the actual value of such assistance in the long run. On the one hand there is the "they asked for it mentality", more directly officers themselves are complicit in abuse.
 
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Dr. Dwayne

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I saw a program the other day on the legalised brothels in Germany, although I can't remember much about it. I think the conclusion was that it doesn't really make much difference to the exploitation of women, but seeing as it's out in the open now, the chances of something being done about exploitation might be improved.
They can at least operate in a safer, controlled environment instead of being raped, beaten and murdered in a van down by the river.
 

DOTA

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That's intrinsic to the transaction, you're commodifying sexual relations.
Yeah, to me jeff's post pretty much reads 'exploitation will continue as long as people paying to treat others as objects treat them as objects'.
 

MoskvaRed

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They can at least operate in a safer, controlled environment instead of being raped, beaten and murdered in a van down by the river.
Yes, it's going to happen anyway (it's not called the oldest profession for nothing) so the lesser evil is to legalise and regulate it
 

jeff_goldblum

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That's intrinsic to the transaction, you're commodifying sexual relations.
Yeah, to me jeff's post pretty much reads 'exploitation will continue as long as people paying to treat others as objects treat them as objects'.
The commodification of a service and the exploitation and dehumanisation of the person who provides it are too very different things. You wouldn't expect to be able to abuse the person who you pay to clean your windows, so why is abuse and exploitation to be expected when the service provided happens to be sex.

The connection you've both made between sex work and objectification/exploitation is actually what I was talking about vis-a-vis attitudes. There's no reason sex work should automatically entail 'women being paid to be treated like objects' it tends to go that way because of the attitudes of the men who pay for sex, which in turn reflect the dominant societal attitudes towards sex in our culture.
 

peterstorey

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The commodification of a service and the exploitation and dehumanisation of the person who provides it are too very different things. You wouldn't expect to be able to abuse the person who you pay to clean your windows, so why is abuse and exploitation to be expected when the service provided happens to be sex.

The connection you've both made between sex work and objectification/exploitation is actually what I was talking about vis-a-vis attitudes. There's no reason sex work should automatically entail 'women being paid to be treated like objects' it tends to go that way because of the attitudes of the men who pay for sex, which in turn reflect the dominant societal attitudes towards sex in our culture.
I think sex is different from window-cleaning.
 

DOTA

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*insert joke about former PM's father in law*
 

jeff_goldblum

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I think sex is different from window-cleaning.
If we're talking about sex as a commodity it should be viewed the same as any other service and the workers should have the same protections from exploitation and abuse as in any other line of employment. I agree that it's different and that there's a huge potential for abuse, but that abuse is more attributable to the attitudes the customers have towards sex and women rather than something that's inherent about the act itself.

Ideally there'd be no demand for the trade, but if it's going to happen I'd far rather it be regulated.
 

peterstorey

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If we're talking about sex as a commodity it should be viewed the same as any other service and the workers should have the same protections from exploitation and abuse as in any other line of employment. I agree that it's different and that there's a huge potential for abuse, but that abuse is more attributable to the attitudes the customers have towards sex and women rather than something that's inherent about the act itself.

Ideally there'd be no demand for the trade, but if it's going to happen I'd far rather it be regulated.
It doesn't have 'potential' for abuse, it's inherently abusive/exploitative for most people who have their intimacy/sexual pleasure compromised for economic reasons.
 

jeff_goldblum

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It doesn't have 'potential' for abuse, it's inherently abusive/exploitative for most people who have their intimacy/sexual pleasure compromised for economic reasons.
Sorry if I've not been clear, I entirely agree with you. At the moment, sex work is largely undertaken by those in dire financial need or by those who are in some way being coerced into doing so, and as long as that's the case it will be rife with abuse - someone who basically has a choice of committing sex acts and eating, or not doing and starving is, in my view, incapable of consent. I don't see regulation as being the long-term solution because ultimately regulation wont change the attitudes of men who are happy to effectively rape women in order to get their jollies, but in the short term it would improve working conditions and take the trade out of the hands of gangs and people traffickers which can only be a good thing. Decriminalisation would also hopefully lessen the stigmatization of sex workers in our society which have historically undermined their ability to speak up about abuse.
 

Edgar Allan Pillow

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At the moment, sex work is largely undertaken by those in dire financial need or by those who are in some way being coerced into doing so, and as long as that's the case it will be rife with abuse - someone who basically has a choice of committing sex acts and eating, or not doing and starving is, in my view, incapable of consent. I don't see regulation as being the long-term solution because ultimately regulation wont change the attitudes of men who are happy to effectively rape women in order to get their jollies, but in the short term it would improve working conditions and take the trade out of the hands of gangs and people traffickers which can only be a good thing. Decriminalisation would also hopefully lessen the stigmatization of sex workers in our society which have historically undermined their ability to speak up about abuse.
Disagree on most counts.

If they decide to enter the industry for financial benefits, it is not always coercion...it still can be free choice. There really should not be any disregard for women who may choose this as a means to livelihood. There are many cases of 'internet wives' from SE Asia or Eastern Europe who see this as a way to better future. They may not exactly be in a financial distress..but the grass is always greener on the other side. Still free will, may not always be coercion. As for starvation or committing sex acts, it still is can be free choice. Tbf, the available choices may not be good at all...but that's not coercion. The 'consent' does not even come into the picture here.

As for regulation, no regulation ever changes attitudes. It just changes on how much you act on your attitudes. If a man thinks all women are a subservient sex, nothing law can do will change his mind, but regulations make sure that he does not act on his thoughts. Regulations are a must in any industry and will serve to moderate and prevent chaos. For example, paid sex should be permitted, but there must be line drawn against paying for BDSM etc legally. Regulations are not only for the worker...but also for the client to prevent blackmail, illegal recording, cheating etc.
 

Nick 0208 Ldn

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With matters in Britain as they stand at present, i would ask people to consider signing this pledge being promoted by the English Collective of Prostitutes (if you have not already done so that is :)):

http://www.pledgedecrim.com/

It is a far more reasoned, moral and safer answer, not is it borne out of ignorance or condescension.



Street prostitutes in Italy ordered to wear high-visibility vests so motorists can see them

The order decreed by authorities in Spino d’Adda, a town just south of Milan, will affect sex workers who line up along busy main roads

By Nick Squires, Rome
19 Aug 2015


Their normal attire consists of high heels and mini-skirts, but prostitutes touting for business on roadsides in Italy have been ordered to start wearing glow-in-the-dark vests so that they can be spotted by passing motorists.

Sex workers who refuse to wear the luminous vests run the risk of being fined up to €500 (£360).

The order has been decreed by authorities in Spino d’Adda, a town just south of Milan, where working girls line up along busy main roads.

“Sex workers should be treated the same as road workers and obliged to wear clothes that render them more visible,” said Luciano Sinigaglia, the deputy mayor of the town.

The new decree is expected to come into effect early next month.

Its real intention appears to be to discourage prostitution entirely, moving the sex workers to other parts of the region.

During the warm summer months prostitutes, many of them from Eastern Europe and West Africa, line up along main roads leading out of big cities such as Milan and Rome.

There has been a sharp increase in prostitution in Milan this year with the opening of the Expo, a world fair featuring pavilions from dozens of countries, including Britain.

Around 20 million people are expected to have visited Expo, which is based on the theme of nutrition, by the time it ends in October.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...sibility-vests-so-motorists-can-see-them.html


Are they including a bullseye on the back too? :rolleyes:

“Sex workers should be treated the same as road workers..."
Then why don't they start doing so, or are Italian road workers treated so appallingly.
 
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Nick 0208 Ldn

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And this brand of persecution from a majority Democrat state. But then both the left and right of politics are harmful when it comes to sex-worker advocacy/policy.