Archive for the ‘Sex Work’ Category

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Northern Ireland Assembly A repressive new to endanger sex workers by banning paying for sex in Northern Ireland has passed itsfinal 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.

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john mcdonnell Last week there was a parliamentary debate where Labour amendments tocriminalise people who buy sexwere 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.

Michael Connarty: 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 states:

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.

Read more UK Parliament Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

House of Commons logo This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net ) have prepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims to criminalise sex workers’ clients.Please send 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.

  1. The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.

  2. The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.

  3. Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).

  4. Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.

  5. The criminalisation of clients increases women’s vulnerability to violence.

  6. The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.

  7. Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.

  8. An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.

  9. Racist implementation

  10. The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?

  11. The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety

  12. The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland [31] and in France.

…Read the full article

Update: The sex workers lobby

4th November 2014. See  article from  morningstaronline.co.uk

English Collective of Prostitutes logo 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.

Update: Amendment withdrawn

4th November 2014.

House of Commons logo 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.

It is not yet clear whether the idea of a formal review of prostitution will come into fruition but it did seem to reflect an approach that went down 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.

Read more UK Parliament Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

House of Commons logo This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net ) haveprepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims tocriminalise sex workers’ clients.Please send 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.

  1. The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.

  2. The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.

  3. Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).

  4. Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.

  5. The criminalisation of clients increases women’s vulnerability to violence.

  6. The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.

  7. Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.

  8. An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.

  9. Racist implementation

  10. The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?

  11. The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety

  12. The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland [31] and in France.

…Read the full article

Read more UK P4P News at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Northern Ireland Assembly 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.

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sweden social democrats logo Sweden’s nasty parties, forming the Social Democrat-Green party coalition government, are trying to make it an offence for Swedes to use prostitutes when they are on holiday or working in other countries.In Sweden it is already illegal for customers to pay for sex but now the government wants to extend the policy to Swedes who buy sex abroad, with a vote in parliament expected on Tuesday.

But their plans look set to be blocked by the more humane centre-right parties that made up the former governing Alliance in Sweden and the nationalist Sweden Democrats. Johan Pehrson, Liberal Party Justice spokesperson told Swedish television network SVT:

For the Swedish police to scout abroad for this type of crime is not using their resources in the best way,

It is more important to combat serious sex crimes that exist in Sweden, particularly the crime of targeting children.

Richard Jomshof, speaking for the Sweden Democrats added:

We say no. Even if we are against buying sex in Sweden, it is not the same as interfering in other countries’ legislation.

Read more UK Government Watch at MelonFarmers.co.uk

Ministry of Justice logoLegislation tocriminalise men for buying sex in Northern Ireland would be unworkable because the devolved government at Stormont has no powers to authorise telephone bugging operations.The region’s justice minister, David Ford, has told the Guardian he is far from convinced over the plans because mobile intercepts, crucial in prosecutions in countries which have introduced the laws, are [supposedly] rarely used, even in cases against republican and loyalist terror groups.

Police would have to intercept all calls from clients to sex workers in the province, Ford warned. He claimed only a UK cabinet minister such as the Northern Ireland secretary had the power to sign off spying operations.

In response to Democratic Unionist assembly member Lord Morrow’s attempt to introduce such a law via new human anti-trafficking legislation, Ford has established a commission to explore the extent of prostitution in Northern Ireland and the efficacy of the Swedish model. Ford told the Guardian:

I think there is far too little evidence to legislate in a hurry — the research will tell us what the position is. But I am far from convinced that what is currently being suggested such as the Swedish model would work here.

One specific issue which has been raised with me is the fact that the Swedish model largely depends upon telephone intercept evidence. Telephone intercepts can be obtained by an officer more or less the equivalent of a police superintendent in Sweden. In Northern Ireland such telephone intercepts would have to be signed by the secretary of state and I think that is a very different situation.

Certainly in terms of the proportionality of such a process these intercepts are applied against serious cases such as terrorism not issued such as those relating to prostitution, and indeed even in the case of terrorist cases not very often.

And to be honest — not that I would know! Because the National Security Agency cannot operate yet in Northern Ireland because of objections from nationalist politicians to it working here.

As I said before my understanding is that the only person here who could sign off and authorise the use of telephone intercepts to catch men in the act so to speak would be Theresa Villiers, the current secretary of state, or any future one.

The justice minister said he was concerned that any legislation directed at people who buy sex could make matters worse for those involved in prostitution.

The issue that concerns me as minister of justice is whether there is a need for legislation to make sure the law actually deals with the problem. What we need to do is to protect the women (because they are nearly all women involved in it) and assist those who want to get out of prostitution if they want out. And in particular, that we take strong action directed against those who are trafficking human beings for any purpose. The specific issue of a ban on the purchase of sexual services, and even that is an unclear phrase, is not where I think the priority needs to be at this point.

Meanwhile nasty Tory speaks out in favour of jailing men just for buying sex

See article from independent.co.uk

Caroline Spelman, the former Tory environment secretary, says buying sex from prostitutes should be criminalised. She also called on more male politicians to enter into a discussion on the reform of prostitution laws. (

Spelman said she supports the Nordic approach, used in Sweden, Iceland and Norway, which makes it a crime to buy, but not sell, sexual services. Speaking to The Guardian , she said it is important for more men to make their views clear on the issue, rather assuming that men would support her miserable cause.