Independent: Sex workers harassed, assaulted and illegally targeted for deportations amid culture of xenophobia after Brexit

Exclusive: ‘For migrant workers, everything is compounded – the sexism, the criminalisation and the racism and then the hostile immigration environment’

Maya Oppenheim Women’s Correspondent @mayaoppenheim

Women are being targeted by police despite having the right to reside in the UK

Sex workers in the UK are being illegally targeted for deportations and subjected to harassment and attacks because of a Brexit-inspired culture of discrimination against foreigners, campaigners have claimed.

A dossier compiled by the campaign group English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) includes examples of women being targeted by police for arrest and deportation despite having the right to remain in Britain, and police dismissing reports of violence against women.

Liliana Gashi, a spokesperson for the group, said: “Since the Brexit vote, racist attacks on migrant sex workers have gone up, particularly against those of us who work on the street. We work for a living, like other workers, and our families and sometimes whole communities depend on the money we earn.

“How can the police then say we are not workers? We ask that trade unions and others concerned with the rights of workers and migrants help us establish that sex work is work so we can organise alongside other workers for protection from exploitation and abuse.”

The ECP says sex workers are disadvantaged and discriminated against because the trade is not recognised as work in the UK – noting many people, therefore, do not have the documentation, including the record of waged work, that is needed to establish a right to stay in the UK.

It is not illegal for individuals to buy or sell sex from each other in the UK, but soliciting and sex workers banding together as a group are illegal.