Daily Echo: Bill to criminalise sex workers defeated

Bill to criminalise sex workers defeated by the WI

12:47pm Wednesday 5th November 2014 By Sian Davies

PLANS that were feared could have led to the further criminalisation of prostitutes have been defeated thanks to a long running campaign spearheaded by the Hampshire Women’s Institute.

An amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which campaigners felt would have criminalised clients was dropped without even going to a vote.

Another amendment put forward by Yvette Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a “review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation” was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart’s, was also defeated.

The move is being heralded as a victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. It is a campaign that has been led in conjunction with the English collective of prostitutes and the Sex Worker Open University.

It is a campaign that was highlighted when the WI passed a resolution to ask all councils to provide a safe places for sex workers , that was followed in 2008 when Hampshire WI members Jean Johnson and Shirley Landels made a documentary of their travels across the world to find out how other countries dealt with prostitution.

In it they visited a number of brothels and spoke to working girls about their work and how it was managed by their local authorities.

Since then the organisation has continued to oppose the further criminalisation of sex workers, and were vehemently opposed to the amendment to the slavery bill, which was successful defeated last night.

Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs to oppose the amendment whilst a briefing for MPs was organised for speakers, including Jean Johnson to address the issue on Monday.