We welcome Rupert Everett’s perceptive article and his support for sex workers (see here). Please also see Mariana Popa was killed working as a prostitute. Are the police to blame? by Diane Taylor and Mark Townsend about the policing of prostitution.
Mr Everett’s article describes a Closure Order on a sex worker’s flat being granted by a judge, at the behest of the police, despite lack of evidence that any woman was being controlled or incited into prostitution. This pattern was repeated in approximately 20 other flats. Only two Closure Orders that were heard in front of another judge were refused.
Westminster Council backed the raids saying they aimed to “help any vulnerable woman” and that women’s “safety is paramount”. Yet many women were abused, threatened and humiliated during these police raids – handcuffed and dragged in their underwear in front of the media. Please see their testimonies here. The Council has said nothing about that.
The police need to be held to account for their brutality and lies, starting with Commander Alison Newcomb. She claimed the raids were “to close brothels where we have evidence of very serious crimes happening, including rape and human trafficking”. Precisely how many victims were found and how many prosecutions for trafficking were there? The Soho raids were led by DS Kevin Southwell who gave false information to the inquiry into the police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Soho sex workers will be appealing these discriminatory closures. We would appreciate your support at court hearings starting early February in Isleworth Crown Court. We’ll send round details as soon as we have them.
Historic Soho is one of the safest places for women to work as they have a maid or receptionist with them as well as the support of the local community. Most of the women who were evicted are mothers and grandmothers. A number ended up working on the street because they were left with no money before Christmas.
If this is how the police treat women working indoors, you can imagine how much worse it is for street workers. One woman spelt it out:
“The police wait outside my house to catch me when I leave. It doesn’t matter how I’m dressed, who I’m with, where I’m going, they say I’m loitering. When they stop me they jeer at me, and make jokes at my expense, often sexually explicit jokes. When they arrest me I’m strip searched and they sometimes leave the door open so the male officers can see in. All this is to humiliate me.”
Help us to stop these raids.
Go on line and comment on Rupert Everett’s article here.
- Westminster Council: Cllr. Ian Rowley, Chair, Sex Worker Task Group (email@example.com); Cllr. Philippa Roe, Leader.
- Met. Police Commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Your MP — find them here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/.
Sign the Don’t Rip the Heart Out of Soho petition: http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/dont-rip-the-heart-out-of-soho.html