DAVID Blunkett is using the Home Office consultation paper on prostitution, Paying the Price, to promote his own punitive agenda of compulsory health checks and registration with the police (Bold move to legalise brothels, 16 July).
The report focuses on the “95 per cent of street workers [who] are drug users” — a statistic we would dispute while acknowledging that “74 per cent [of sex workers] cited the need to pay household expenses and support their children as the prime motivating factor [for getting involved in prostitution]” along with other reasons such as debt.
What about the 40 per cent cut in benefit to single mothers who refuse to name the often violent fathers of their children; the destitution of asylum seekers; cuts to women’s refuges; the abolition of student grants and the running down of industry?
Every time the Government cuts disability benefits and pensions, more women end up in prostitution to support their loved ones.
Decriminalisation has the support of the majority of the public. But Blunkett is more interested in antisocial behaviour orders which imprison women and further criminalise their communities.
There is always money for war but nothing to improve the lives of mothers and others struggling to make ends meet.
International Prostitutes Collective, Crossroads Women’s Centre, NW5.Evening Standard, 20 July 2004, Letters p. 22