The English Collective of Prostitutes is joining the Women’s March on London against Trump on Saturday 21 January. Across the world women face a critical situation as war and economic and environmental devastation fuel an increase in prostitution. Yet, those of us who survive and support our families through sex work risk persecution and prosecution.
Since 1975, the ECP has been campaigning against the criminalisation of sex work (the main obstacle to getting protection from violence and being able to leave prostitution if we want to) and against women’s poverty (the root cause of prostitution). At least 87% of sex workers are women. We are: mothers working to feed our children including immigrant women working to support families back home; asylum seekers forced by a deliberate government policy into destitution; people enduring zero hour contracts and the lowest wages; young people escaping violence in the home and in institutions; transgender people facing employment discrimination; students trying to escape the burden of massive debt . . . We are not ashamed of anything we have had to do to survive but we are enraged at how little credit we are given as women for the fact that many millions of people rely on us for their very survival.
We are fighting against criminalisation which means that many of us end up in prison or trapped in prostitution by a criminal record. We are fighting for our rights: our right to work and to not work in prostitution, our right to safety and protection and our right to unionise. We fighting against cuts and austerity that are forcing more of us to do this job and making it harder and less safe when we are working. We are fighting against violence and to demand that the police and courts protect us when we are attacked. We are fighting against the criminalisation of clients which increases the criminalisation of prostitution and forces us underground and into more danger.
The movement for decriminalisation, spearheaded by sex workers, is growing, emboldened by the support of organisations like Amnesty International. We are part of movements for justice, against poverty and for a more caring society for everyone. In this country we join with the hundreds of thousands behind Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor, John Mcdonnell, who have always defended workers whatever our occupation, and stand with those of us at the bottom.
We must stand and move together. Our strength is your strength.