URGENT: Support our submission to the Labour Party Policy Forum

Dear Friends,

The Labour Party is inviting people to submit proposals to the National Policy Forum which they say will shape policy.

We have submitted a proposal for the decriminalisation of sex work to be included in the Labour Party manifesto.

We also demand the reversal of austerity cuts which have increased destitution and consequently prostitution.

If you are a Labour Party member could you please vote for our proposal HERE.

If you are not or are part of an organisation please submit your own proposal. You are welcome to use ours if helpful.

THE DEADLINE IS THIS SUNDAY 30 JUNE, so please act promptly.

Many thanks,

Laura Watson

Proposal for the Labour Party to include a commitment in its manifesto to:

“Decriminalise sex work to promote safety and rights. Specifically, implement the 2016 Home Affairs Select Committee Recommendation to: decriminalise street-based sex workers and those working together in premises: expunge criminal records, thus removing some of the discrimination that prevents people leaving prostitution and getting other jobs if they want to.”

“Reverse austerity cuts. Specifically, abolish benefit sanctions, Universal Credit and other policies that cause destitution; these have pushed many people, especially single mothers and homeless women, into ‘survival sex’ to feed themselves and their children. Mothers are entitled to financial support for their caring work, not criminalisation.”

Evidence and information

  1. Over 85% of sex workers are women and the majority mothers. Austerity cuts, 89% of which have targeted women, have caused massive rises in prostitution. For example, in Doncaster police and charities report a 60% increase in prostitution due to benefit sanctions. The UN Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and the Work & Pensions Committee Inquiry into “survival sex” found benefit sanctions and Universal Credit have caused destitution, homelessness and prostitution to rise. Asylum seekers get £37 a week (many get nothing at all) forcing women to sell sex to survive.
  2. Decriminalisation was introduced in New Zealand in 2003 with verifiable success. A comprehensive government review found that: over 90% of sex workers had more employment, legal, health and safety rights; 70% of sex workers said they were more likely to report violence to the police; 64% found it easier to turn down clients (key to refusing the worst exploitation); 57% said police attitudes to sex workers had improved; sex workers were more able to carry condoms and access health care; and there had been no increase in the number of people entering the sex industry and no evidence of trafficking.
  3. A petition to the government by the #MakeAllWomenSafe campaign, calling for the implementation of the Home Affairs Committee Recommendation to decriminalise sex workers on the street and together in premises, has gathered over 12,000 signatures so far.
  4. Decriminalisation is supported by prestigious organisations such as: Amnesty International, Royal College of Nursing, Women Against Rape, the World Health Organisation, UNAIDS, Human Rights Watch, Global Alliance against Trafficking in Women, among others.
  5. We urge the Labour Party to reject the criminalisation of clients as this would further criminalise poverty and increase stigma and isolation making it more dangerous for sex workers. In Ireland, reported incidences of violent crime against sex workers have risen by almost 50% since the introduction of a law criminalising clients.[i]

[i] New Statesman, 26 March 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2018/03/does-nordic-model-work-what-happened-when-ireland-criminalised-buying-sex