We who insist that a distinction be made between trafficking (coercion and rape) and prostitution (consenting sexual services) are charged with siding with pimps and clients against women. How about that for “nasty personal tone”?
Yet no one is more concerned with women’s safety than we are. We campaign for decriminalisation so women don’t have to work alone (it is illegal for two or more women to work together) and can report violence without fear of arrest or persecution. After the Ipswich tragedy we formed the Safety First Coalition. Distinguished members such as the Royal College of Nursing and the anti-poverty Zacchaeus 2000 Trust agree prostitution must be decriminalised. But our voices are ignored in favour of Home Office-funded projects which claim the politicians know what’s best for us.
From India to South Africa and Argentina to the US, sex worker organisations are demanding decriminalisation. We do not glamorise prostitution; neither do we demonise it. Unwaged and low-waged work are the reality of most women worldwide, and prostitution is a job that enables millions to feed our children and pay the rent.
We say, “Criminalise poverty, not prostitutes”. Where are anti-prostitution feminists when immigration laws and welfare reform threaten single mothers with destitution, a sure way to increase prostitution? It is more convenient, and more fundable, to blame individual men.
Cari Mitchell English Collective of Prostitutes