Statement: Sex workers join the Mothers March

For Everyone’s SURVIVAL & WELFARE End Cuts, Poverty & Discrimination Invest in caring not killing

Dear Friends,

We are sponsoring an exciting Mothers March on Saturday 12 March 2011, and very much hope you will join us on it. The March will be followed by a Speak Out (please see leaflet below).

This is a brilliant chance for us as sex workers to get some recognition for being carers, even if we can’t be public. Over 70% of prostitute women are mothers, mostly single mothers, doing what we can to survive and give our children a better chance in life. We are also grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunties, partners . . . supporting families and whole communities. When do we hear that in the media?

We get no credit for our work, we are invisible. Unless of course we’ve been raided, arrested, jailed or murdered. The best known sex workers are those who have been exposed in the media or murdered by a serial killer. We can’t even report attacks without risking arrest.

As the cuts bite, there is less help with housing, debt, childcare, or any of the resources we may need to escape violence. More women are being driven into the sex industry. How else are we to support kids through school now EMA is gone and other benefits are being slashed? Why the surprise if some asylum seekers who have been left destitute or forced to live on vouchers turn tricks for a fiver, or some students do lap dancing to pay university fees?

Instead of being offered protection and support, we are witch-hunted by politicians and even some feminists who earn comfy wages lecturing us about changing our ways.

If you are as outraged about this as we are, please join us on the Mothers March. Together with other mothers from all walks of life we can have an impact and demand that all the caring work we do should be recognised and paid for. If we won that money many of us wouldn’t have ended up in the sex industry or we would have been able to leave if we wanted to.

If you can’t march, please send a message of support, a donation towards organising costs, write a letter to your local paper . . . There are many ways to be involved.

Best wishes,

Cari Mitchell

Why we’ll be marching:

“Most of the women that I meet on the street are there to keep their families together and their children out of care. They go out for an hour and make enough money to pay a bill. We are not ready to stay in bed and survive on bread and jam. Personally I feel I deserve more and so does my daughter. What I do is not dishonest. It is hard work.” Jenny, street worker

“What I want is a little recognition. I’m not asking for the hundreds they pay a stranger to do my job as a mother. Just a little of that money would have made my life and my daughter’s life much easier.” Mandy, street worker

“We are all mothers working in this place. Don’t talk to me about my country’. What kind of country is it that forces mothers into prostitution to keep our kids safe? My son was nearly snatched off the street by a gang. He was saved by a passer-by. I never went home again. I moved area, found another flat and went on the game to cover the rent.”

“I’m marching for safety. We get raped and beaten and then the police tell us that if we don’t like it we should stay home. If we do report an attack, more often than not we are arrested for prostitution while our attackers go free.”

“About a year ago I was determined to get out. I got a cleaning job but it only just covered what I had to pay for someone to look after my daughter. I would have had to work two jobs to have enough to support us. This job can destroy you. But other jobs destroy you just as good.”

“I was 18 and pregnant when I started working as a maid. The father of my baby wasn’t around and I was very hard up. I thought it wouldn’t be forever. My job was to look out for the girl and make sure she was safe. After a few months the police raided. They told me if I didn’t give them information I would be charged with brothel-keeping. I had no information to give. That conviction has ruined my life. I have tried for all kinds of jobs since then and it has always come up.”

“I am a mother. I was raided for working collectively with other women. How else could we work safely? The jury sided with me and I was found not guilty. But now I am forced to work alone or I’ll be arrested again. Why put us at risk?”

“Making us illegal doesn’t stop prostitution. It merely makes us vulnerable to psychopaths. The police take advantage, they raid us and seize all our money and assets. Some of it they just steal, it’s never accounted for. Many are also clients. Some of them don’t agree with the laws but they don’t speak out.”

International Women’s week: Mothers March