Brighton & Hove City Council is doing a survey to inform the city’s forthcoming Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Strategy.
The previous policy was very problematic. It labelled prostitution as a form of violence and exploitation, promoted the closure of premises where sex workers are working together, as well as the criminalisation of clients. See background info here with our previous objections & action alert.
We want to make sure that Brighton’s VAWG policy includes sex workers, recognises that criminalisation of prostitution undermines our safety and that increasing poverty pushes more women in particular into prostitution and forces us to work in more dangerous situations to get the money we need to survive. Brighton & Hove VAWG policy could be a model for others around the country.
Please fill in the anonymous survey here and use the places where you are asked for your comments (Qs 12 and 14) to make your views known.
Survey deadline 20 February 2022.
Please see our brief additional points below to help with your response.
The strategy should document and challenge the injustice and increased vulnerability to women caused by the current prostitution laws which force sex workers of all genders to work in isolation and deter us from reporting violence for fear of arrest. Decriminalisation has been proven to improve sex workers’ safety and well-being.
The strategy should include measures to tackle poverty. Women Against Rape has documented how austerity cuts and rising poverty increases women and girl’s vulnerability to violence. The strategy must also call for funding for essential services that help victims escape violence like domestic violence refuges and press for the elimination of poverty, homelessness, high rents and low wages in Brighton & Hove.
The criminalisation of clients must NOT be promoted. Evidence from Sweden, France, Ireland, Norway and other countries that have introduced a sex buyers law show that it has had a devastating effect on the rights, health and safety of sex workers. Research from the UK shows that where arrests of sex workers and clients were high, less women report violence.
NOTE ON TERMINOLOGY. The explanation for this survey includes “sexual exploitation” and “forced prostitution” as violence. These terms are misnomers. Forced prostitution is rape. Sexual exploitation is the abuse of a position of power for sexual purposes for profit. Abuse of power for sexual purposes is also rape. Listing these two terms separately encourages police and the criminal justice system to focus on the act of making money rather than on the act of violence and means that the police retain a justification for raiding and arresting sex workers.