Action Alert: Please respond to the Home Office consultation on Violence Against Women and Girls
The Home Office is doing a consultation on Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG).
Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey we did with National Ugly Mugs and Umbrella Lane to gather sex workers’ experience of violence to feed into the Home Office consultation.
Our survey has now closed BUT… if you haven’t already, please fill in the Home Office VAWG survey directly.
Deadline for this is 11:45pm, Friday 19 February.
Prostitution and pornography aren’t mentioned but many existing local authority VAWG strategies list prostitution as a form of violence against women on an equal par with rape, domestic abuse, stalking, harassment, etc..
Please use the places in the consultation where you are asked for your comments to specify that prostitution must not be included as a form of violence.
Including prostitution as a form of violence is problematic because:
- It is insulting and demeaning to sex workers as it implies that we don’t know the difference between rape and consenting sex. Like other workers, sex workers’ consent is conditional: if we don’t get paid, it’s forced labour/rape.
- It hides that criminalization exacerbates violence. Sex workers on the street are running from the police and the brothel-keeping laws prevent us working together for safety. Many sex workers are deterred from reporting attacks for fear of arrest and for those of us who are migrant, fear of deportation.
- It invites crackdowns and brothel closures by police who can justify their actions by saying they are addressing violence against women.
- Exploitation and violence suffered by sex workers should be defined and tackled in the same way as it is in other industries and the solutions should be as they are for other workers – labour rights and employment protections. But the first thing would be to abolish the prostitution laws that undermine safety.
- Sex workers need what other people need — money and resources so that we aren’t trapped in prostitution or any exploitative and violent situation by poverty. We need decriminalization so we can report violence without fear or arrest and aren’t labelled for life by a criminal record.
Please note, in general the consultation questions are biased and deliberately narrow. There is no acknowledgement of the fact that rape has effectively been decriminalized in the UK. Women Against Rape, points to the appalling 1.5% prosecution rate for reported rapes and comments:
“If the government was serious about addressing violence against women and girls it would make sure the police and courts – both criminal and family – prioritize victims; it would increase benefits and provide resources so that women could escape violence and protect themselves and their children and extend those resources to all women, including immigrants and asylum seekers excluded by the ‘no recourse to public funds’ rule.”
So please fill in the survey using every opportunity where you are asked to comment to make your views on these issues known.