When prostitute women are not safe, no woman is safe
Gemma Adams and a woman the police believe to be Tania Nicol, have now both been found tragically murdered in Ipswich. We pass our deepest condolences to their loved ones. A number of women also working as sex workers have gone missing in the area in recent years. In order to save lives and not to repeat the horror of the Yorkshire Ripper, who was allowed to continue killing until 13 women had been murdered, the Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law.
an immediate temporary amnesty from arrest for prostitute women and clients so that anyone can come forward to give information to this inquiry without fear of criminalisation or harassment; (Previously, women with outstanding arrest warrants either couldn’t contact the police or when they did were arrested. (See Criminalisation: the price women and children pay, English Collective of Prostitutes response to the government’s review of the prostitution laws, December 2004)
an end to street sweeps, arrests and ASBOs against prostitute women and clients which have forced women into darker, more isolated areas making them more vulnerable to rape, violence and even murder. Women working under increased pressure are less able to look out for each other, have less time to check out clients and are forced to take more risks;
a change in police priorities; money and resources being used to prosecute women and clients for consenting sex must be re-directed into vigorously pursuing violent men and protection of all women
- following the example of New Zealand, decriminalisation of the prostitution laws, which by criminalising sex workers signal that women’s lives are not worth much. The police and courts don’t protect women and violent men think they can get away with attacks.
The police are telling women to look out for each other and come forward with information. But whatever safety systems that women have and will work out among themselves, they can never substitute for the police doing the job that the public overwhelmingly wants them to do – protect sex workers from rape and other attacks.
Over 70% of prostitute women are mothers. As poverty, homelessness and debt go up and women’s wages go down, more women (especially with Xmas round the corner) are forced into prostitution to support themselves and their families. Every woman is some mother’s daughter, someone’s sister, aunt, beloved friend . . . Every life is of value.
9 December 2006