Action Alert: Protest criminalisation & police raids vs sex workers

Walkers Court, Soho.
Wednesday 26 February, 11am-12pm.






A motion by MEP Mary Honeyball to criminalise sex workers’ clients is being voted on in Europe tomorrow Wednesday 26 February.

Lobby your MEP TODAY – Information from the International Committee for the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe here and model letter below:

Additionally, on 3 March, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution reports and is likely to recommend criminalisation of clients.

Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution, nor will it stop the criminalisation of women.  But it will make it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers.

Mass police raids last December, against sex workers in Soho, have thrown scores of women out of the relative safety of their flats. Premises were closed using laws promoted by Labour women ministers in the name of “gender equality”[i]. But where was the feminist outrage when women were dragged handcuffed in their underwear onto the streets. False claims about trafficking have been used to justify the crackdown.  If the police get away with attacking sex workers in Soho who have such strong and visible support, then arrests and illegality against those of us who work on the street will escalate.

Cuts, benefit sanctions, rising poverty and homelessness have forced more women, particularly mothers, into prostitution. Do feminist politicians have a thought for how we’ll feed our children if they further criminalise prostitution?

Sex workers are fighting the Soho closures. One appeal has been won but other flats remain closed. Local people have rallied to support because they fear the closures are to make way for the gentrification of historic Soho.

Consenting sex is not a crime; we demand the decriminalisation of prostitution. New Zealand decriminalised in 2003 and sex workers report feeling safer and more able to demand their rights. WHY NOT HERE? 020 7482 2496

“Dear (insert name of MEP here)

The 570 NGOs and civil society organisations and 70 researchers (listed in the attached documents) are urging to reject Ms Honeyball’s report on prostitution to be voted next Wednesday 26th of February.

The Honeyball report is promoting the “Swedish Model” of criminalising clients of sex workers, which has been evidenced as increasing the vulnerability of sex workers and has failed to reduce prostitution and trafficking as evidenced by the Swedish Police itself .

Our letter to MEPs has been signed by a huge numbers of organisations who work directly with sex workers everyday as well as anti-trafficking organisations such as La Strada International (click here for their statement against Ms Honeyball’s report). Many women’s organisations such as the German Women Council (50 women’s rights  organisations in Germany), Mama Cash and 6 other women’s fundsIPPF -European network and Transgender Europe (79 transgender organisations in Europe) as well as the majority of HIV and harm reduction organisations are also asking you to reject this report.

We also denounce the lack of evidence behind Ms Honeyball report. 70 researchers have signed a counter-report demonstrating the many flaws of the Honeyball report including use of data about coffee shops in Amsterdam instead of brothels for example. Such flawed methodology is unacceptable when drafting policies that will affect an already marginalised community.

I hope you will consider the evidence and will listen to the 560 NGOs and civil society organisations and 70 researchers asking you to reject the Honeyball report.”

For more information contact:
Luca Stevenson
Coordinator, International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe – ICRSE

[i] Brothel Closure Orders were strengthened in the 2009 Policing and Crime Act; a law campaigned for by MPs Harriet Harman, Fiona Mactaggart, Vera Baird, Jackie Smith.