Statement: ECP and SWARM on the death of Romina Kalachi

ECP and SWARM are devastated at the death of Romina Kalachi, a sex worker found murdered in her flat in Kilburn last week. Our thoughts are with Romina’s family and friends.

Yesterday, Noor Mohammed appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates’ Court charged with Kalachi’s murder.

Romina was a migrant from Italy, working in a residential flat in Kilburn. Like many sex workers, Romina was working alone. While selling sex is legal in the UK, sharing the premises with a friend is classed a brothel and is illegal.

Women across the world live under the constant threat of violence and, for sex workers, this is heightened by illegality and stigma. A woman from Leeds recently articulated the threat when she said: “The laws are pointing at us and saying, ‘Nobody cares about you.” Migrant women are particularly targeted for attack.

Guidelines from the National Police Chiefs Council recommend that police discontinue enforcement of laws which specifically target sex workers; such as brothel keeping and solicitation. Yet thousands of sex workers each year continue to be raided, arrested, prosecuted and even imprisoned.[i]

There is a growing movement, spearheaded by sex workers, demanding the decriminalisation of sex work along the lines of the law introduced in New Zealand in 2003 with verifiable success.[ii]  This must be an urgent priority for a new UK government before more precious lives are lost.

[i] http://prostitutescollective.net/legal-cases/

[ii] Report of the Prostitution Law Review Committee on the Operation of the Prostitution Reform Act 2003. http://prostitutescollective.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/report-of-the-nz-prostitution-law-committee-2008.pdf