STOP CRIMINALISATION: SAFETY FIRST – PROTEST AGAINST RAIDS, EVICTIONS AND CRIMINALISATION.
Walkers Court, Soho.
Wednesday 26 February, 11am-12pm.
On 3 March, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Prostitution reports and is likely to recommend criminalisation of clients.
Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution, nor will it stop the criminalisation of women. But it will make it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers.
Mass police raids last December, against sex workers in Soho, have thrown scores of women out of the relative safety of their flats. Premises were closed using laws promoted by Labour women ministers in the name of “gender equality” [i]. But where was the feminist outrage when women were dragged handcuffed in their underwear onto the streets. False claims about trafficking have been used to justify the crackdown. If the police get away with attacking sex workers in Soho who have such strong and visible support, then arrests and illegality against those of us who work on the street will escalate.
Cuts, benefit sanctions, rising poverty and homelessness have forced more women, particularly mothers, into prostitution. Do feminist politicians have a thought for how we’ll feed our children if they further criminalise prostitution?
Sex workers are fighting the Soho closures. One appeal has been won but other flats remain closed. Local people have rallied to support because they fear the closures are to make way for the gentrification of historic Soho.
Consenting sex is not a crime; we demand the decriminalisation of prostitution. New Zealand decriminalised in 2003 and sex workers report feeling safer and more able to demand their rights. WHY NOT HERE?
[i] Brothel Closure Orders were strengthened in the 2009 Policing and Crime Act; a law campaigned for by MPs Harriet Harman, Fiona Mactaggart, Vera Baird, Jackie Smith