This branch calls on the Labour Party to support sex workers’ demands for decriminalisation of sex work. Ending criminalisation would increase safety as sex workers could work together and report violence without fear of arrest.
This branch calls on the Labour Party to oppose proposals to criminalise clients as they would drive sex workers further underground and into more danger. In Scotland, when clients were criminalised in 2006, the number of assaults on sex workers almost doubled in one year. In Sweden where clients have been criminalised since 1999, sex workers and academics report that women have been forced further underground into the hands of pimps.
Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution, but it will make it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers. Romanian mother Mariana Popa was murdered in East London in 2013 in the wake of a police crackdown which drove sex workers into side streets to avoid arrest.
The English Collective of Prostitutes estimates that 70% of sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers supporting families. This branch calls on the Labour Party to reverse welfare cuts and benefit sanctions which are increasing poverty, driving more women and young people into prostitution to survive. Some women working on the streets have not eaten for days. We also call for an end to zero work contracts, for a living wage for carers, pay equity, social housing and affordable rents so no one is forced into prostitution by poverty, and those who want to leave are able to.