Press release:Sex Workers Response, Stop the Criminalisation of Sex Work – Safety First!
Sex workers from a number of European countries including Sweden will be speaking in the House of Commons on Wednesday 26 March 2014.
Where: Committee Room 12
An All-Party Parliamentary Group recently recommended changing the prostitution laws to criminalise clients. They are doing this without even releasing any analysis of the evidence. We don’t even know how many of the respondents supported this recommendation. Claims that sex workers will be decriminalised aren’t true. ASBOs would continue to be used against any woman who didn’t “rehabilitate”; they have already massively increased women’s imprisonment.
Similar proposals have been put forward in various European countries. The meeting will hear about the impact on sex workers’ safety of increased criminalisation and the creative and determined campaigns by sex workers and supporters against these measures.
“Before even thinking of a law that criminalises men who buy sex, UK politicians should hear from Swedish sex workers like myself about how we have treated under the law. We are still criminalised if we work together in apartments, we risk losing our home if we sell sex there even if we own it, social workers treat as like children and we can even lose custody of our kids because we are seen as victims suffering from a form of self-harm who can’t take care of ourselves. This law should be taken away not exported to other countries.”
Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes, which is organising the meeting with the People’s Parliament commented:
“The existing prostitution laws force sex workers to work in isolation and danger, so change is urgently needed. But criminalising clients will be a disaster for sex workers undermining safety and increasing stigma.
We are appalled that at a time when benefit cuts and sanctions, lowering wages, increased homelessness, and debt are forcing more women, particularly mothers, into prostitution, the best that MPs can come up with is to increase criminalisation. These proposals will further divert police time and resources from investigating rape, trafficking and other violent crimes to policing consenting sex.
Why did the APPG ignore New Zealand which decriminalised in 2003 with verifiable improvements in sex workers safety?  Canada’s Supreme Court threw out the prostitution laws for violating women’s right to safety.  This wasn’t even mentioned by the APPG.”
The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) is a network of women who work or have worked in different areas of the sex industry campaigning for decriminalisation and safety. The ECP provides daily support to sex workers on a range of issues including fighting legal cases which challenge discrimination and establish prostitute women’s right to protection against violence.