Five years after forming as a political party, the Australian Sex Party has won its first seat in parliament.
The party's national President and long time civil liberties lobbyist, Fiona Patten, has just been formally declared the winner of the fifth seat in the Northern Metropolitan region of the Victorian Legislative Council.
Ms Patten won with the fifth highest primary vote in the region and the support of seven other progressive parties who preferenced her highly. She said:
The result is a ringing endorsement of the democratic nature of the preferential voting system. We are becoming more like the many European countries who have a number of parties vying for government on their own or in combination with another party. New
Zealand also follows this trend. The introduction of minor parties into the political landscape in Australia is a sign of a healthy democracy. My vote was made up of a combination of the votes of the progressive minor parties in my region and ended up
being around about a quota in its own right".
She said she would seek to progress the key policies of many of these parties like The Voluntary Euthanasia Party, The Basics Rock 'n Roll Party, The Animal Justice Party, Independent Peter Allen and The Australian Cyclists.
Ms Patten has resigned as CEO of Australia's adult industry association, the Eros Association. She founded the association in 1992 and acknowledged the support and the depth of civil libertarian values present in the industry:
Now is the time for the hard work to begin and from today it does. I will immediately commence work on referring Voluntary Euthanasia to the Victorian Law Reform Commission and then, with the mandate I have, will begin progressing drug law reform in
Victoria, including legalising medical and recreational cannabis.
Nick Clegg has slammed new porn laws which outlaws British websites from hosting supposedly harmful bedroom acts between consenting adults
Nick Clegg today warned prudish David Cameron to keep his nose out of people's exotic bedroom habits. He said:
The Government is not there to stick its nose in the bedroom, as long as people are not doing things which are illegal. It's not really for us to judge how people get their kicks.
Speaking at his monthly press conference, Clegg made clear the face sitting porn protestors have his support:
In a free society, people should be free to do things that many people might find exotic, at mildest, or deeply unappetising at worst. It's their freedom to do so.
But Cameron made clear last week he backs the repressive and business destroying new laws. He told a conference in London:
I feel that it's very important. In Britain we have rules about how you can buy pornography in the shop. I believe we should try and make sure you apply those rules when you buy pornography online.
The PM said it was part of a broader principle that the same laws should apply online as on the high street. Of course it never occurred to him to achieve this by freeing up the ridiculous prohibitions inflicted on high street stores.
Cameron spouted further:
We're trying to make sure that when something is a crime, it is prosecuted and convicted wherever it takes place. My view is that should happen whether it's online or offline. We should try and apply the same rule whether you're visiting a shop in a high
street or visiting a store on the internet.
Canada has recently passed a law to endanger sex workers by making it illegal for men to pay for sex. But that is just part of the nastiness. The government has also banned advertising for the vaguely defined 'sexual services'.
According to 'Justice' Minister Peter Mackay, law C-26 will prohibit all forms of advertising (of sexual services), including online. Anything that enables or furthers what we think is an inherently dangerous practice of prostitution will be subject
The new law ranks among the harshest in the world. Advertising sexual services is legal, or at least tolerated, in Europe and elsewhere in North America. In the UK, for example, the tart cards that once plastered the ubiquitous red phone boxes
have moved online. The internet and social networks are now prime hubs for sex-related ads.
In order not to appear to be cracking the whip on individuals, Bill C-36 (the Protection Of Communities And Exploited Persons Act) permits sex workers to advertise. But this is a gigantic Catch-22, because whatever platform they choose to use - website,
newspaper, online classifieds or social network - will be, in the justice minister's words, entirely subject to prosecution. Servers, website hosts and companies supporting the advertising sites are in essence treated as pimps and can be charged.
In effect, that's a total crackdown.
Adult services advertising is a huge business. Burlesque stars, lap dancers, performance artists, porn actors, strippers, masseuses and even organizations set up to support sex workers risk being swept up in the net of the new legislation by advertising
Take burlesque, which is enjoying a major revival due to the saucy new approach developed by artists like Dita Von Teese and Madame Rosebud. If a burlesque dancer advertised her upcoming event - disrobing in an after-hours swingers' club - that could be
construed as offering a sexual service.
How are the differences between Tantric and erotic massage determined? Could you advertise a workshop in either without being arrested? Is a bar with signs for lap dancing promoting a sexual service? Do Twitter messages offering webcam sex qualify?
MP Joy Smith draws no distinctions. She has said there's no need to define sexual services: Everybody pretty well knows what it's about.... I mean, everybody can go into the minutiae of 'is this sex, is this not sex.' Generally speaking, the world
knows what sex really is.... What we're looking at is whatever the women are doing.
Department of Justice spokesperson Carole Saindon provides a much clearer, if unsatisfactory, explanation: the definition of sexual services will be determined in court:
A court will consider whether the 'service' is sexual in nature and whether the purpose of providing the service is to sexually gratify the person who receives it.
And of course defending their actions in court will be time-consuming and incredibly expensive and therefore punitive for sex workers, dancers and masseuses.
Sex workers and campaigners have gathered in front of parliament to protest against changes to UK pornography regulations.
Protesters chanted: What do we want? Face-sitting! When do we want it? Now! They say the list of banned activities includes face-sitting , and campaigners carried out a mass demonstration of this while singing the Monty Python song Sit
On My Face.
Organiser Charlotte Rose called the restrictions ludicrous and said they were a threat to freedom of expression.
These activities were added to this list without the public being made aware, Charlotte Rose said. They've done this without public knowledge and without public consent.
There are activities on that list that may be deemed sexist, but it's not just about sexism, it's about censorship. What the government is doing is taking our personal liberties away without our permissions.
Mistress Absolute, a professional dominatrix and fetish promoter, said the law was restrictive:
I felt that this was the beginning of something to creep into my sexual freedom and sexual preferences.
Neil Rushton said:
They're very sexist laws. These are very geared towards women's enjoyment as opposed to men's.
Obscenity lawyer Myles Jackman, Jerry Barnett from Sex and Censorship and Jane Fae from the Consenting Adult Action Network were among those making speeches at the protest. Fae called the changes heteronormative , and said:
What is being clamped down on is any kind of online content made by adults who are consenting.
I organised today's mass face-sitting outside Parliament because I'm not willing to give up my sexual liberties
Draconian new pornography restrictions are an attack on our freedom, so it's time to sit down and be counted
I can hear the laughter now. A mass face-sitting outside Britain's parliament: are they serious?
The answer, for anyone who dares think otherwise is: absolutely. Yes. For the new anti-porn regulations censor people without consent. Nobody has the right to take away peoples personal liberties or personal choice.
If we don't speak out now, more and more amendments are going to be added to existing laws taking our personal rights away.
A repressive new to endanger sex workers by banning paying for sex in Northern Ireland has passed its final stage in the Stormont Assembly.
The region will become the first part of the UK to introduce such oppressive restrictions of liberty when the Bill receives the formality of royal assent.
The law change, championed by Democratic Unionist Assembly member Lord Morrow, has been hailed by Christian groups but denounced by prostitutes' representatives.
The fate of the Bill's contentious clause six, proposing the ban on purchasing sex, was uncertain at the outset of a crunch debate in October, with Sinn Fein's decision to back the prohibition with the DUP proving crucial.
Ontario's premier has entered the debate over Canada's repressive new prostitution law a day after it took effect, adding her voice to a growing number of groups concerned for sex workers' safety.
Kathleen Wynne issued a statement Sunday saying she has a grave concern that the new rules dealing with prostitution won't be any better than the old system when it comes to protecting prostitutes from harm.
I am not an expert, and I am not a lawyer, but as premier of this province, I am concerned that this legislation (now the law of the land) will not make sex workers safer.
Wynne said she has asked the province's attorney general to advise her on the legislation's constitutional validity in light of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling quashing the old law, and for options in case its Charter compatibility is
questioned, but stopped short of saying the province wouldn't follow the new rules:
We must enforce duly enacted legislation, but I believe that we must also take steps to satisfy ourselves that, in doing so, we are upholding the constitution and the Charter.
Meanwhile Vancouver Police don't seem impressed by the new law
A law that would have allowed Auckland authorities to ban prostitution in specified places has been scrapped by a New Zealand parliamentary select committee. Instead, councils have been urged to look at other ways to control street prostitutes, such as
using bylaws controlling hawkers . In recommending the local bill not pass, the committee said:
We consider, however, that the matters covered by the bill are not appropriate for a local bill because the problem the bill seeks to address is not unique to the area covered by the bill.
It would also affect the rights of the public in that it would impose constraints on the activities that can occur in specified areas within the Auckland district. Those activities are not specifically prohibited in any other parts of the country.
Many complaints about street-based prostitution relate to noise, littering, slow-moving motor vehicles (kerb-crawling) and disorderly behaviour. These kinds of behaviour can be dealt with by bylaws already in existence.
The committee said the bill would have challenged the legal meaning of the Prostitution Reform Act, which decriminalised prostitution and among other things safeguarded the human rights of sex workers.
The Republic of Ireland's government has introduced a bill that will make it a criminal offence to pay for sex.
The bill comes a year after the Oireachtas 'Justice' Committee's Report on the Review of the Legislation on Prostitution in Ireland made the recommendation that the purchase of sexual services should be made illegal.
'Justice' Minister Frances Fitzgerald introduced the new legislation on November 27th , claiming that her proposed bill reflects an all-island consensus to targeting the predominantly exploitative nature of prostitution. The draft legislation
makes purchasing sexual services a general offence, and the purchasing of sexual services from trafficked persons a more serious offence. The Irish Department of 'Justice' said:
In both cases, the persons selling the sexual service will not be subject to an offence Unlike the existing offences relating to prostitution such as soliciting, loitering or brothel keeping, this offence will specifically target the demand for
However, as Ireland-based activist and writer Wendy Lyon pointed out on Twitter, the offence of paying for sexual services will be inserted into the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 1993 as Section 5A and there is no repeal of any of the parts
of the 1993 Act that currently criminalises sex workers. This bill will NOT decriminalise sex workers she wrote.
An Irish sex worker, Jenny, said:
I think [the Swedish Model] is a very very scary model and that people don't truly understand how far-reaching it can be.
You're basically playing cat and mouse against the police all the time if you introduce the Swedish model and you're just trying to work against the police and you're not getting any help. It's bad enough as it is already. It's going to be worse if they
introduce the Swedish Model.
Basel could be ready to follow in the footsteps of Zurich by establishing sex boxes , a drive-in zone for customers of
A politician from the northern Swiss city is proposing the move as a way of eliminating problems in the city's Kleinbasel red light district, the Basler Zeitung newspaper reported.
Andre Auderset, a Liberal MP for the canton of Basel-City, said over the course of the past year the number of prostitutes in the district has grown to the point where they are spilling over into adjacent neighbourhoods. With residents
complaining, Auderset sees Zurich's example as a model to be followed.
More than one in 10 men have paid for sex, according to a major study of British
The majority of the 11% who had done so had visited sex tourism hotspots such as Bangkok and Amsterdam.
The report, in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, said that young professionals rather than lonely older men were paying. The most likely age group to have recently paid for sex were those in their late 20s and early 30s. Other
characteristics of those likely to pay for sex included being single, having a managerial or professional job and drug use. Nearly two-thirds of them reported paying for sex abroad, with Europe and Asia being major destinations.
A team at University College London analysed data from the Third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles. Just 0.1% of the women aged 16-74 surveyed had paid for sex, but 11% of the men said they had at some point in their lives. Of the
6,108 men surveyed, 3.6% had paid for sex in the past five years and 1.1% in the past year.
But that comes with a price. The men who had paid for sex in the past five years were twice as likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection (STI) such as HIV, syphilis or gonorrhoea. Holiday sex
There's an interesting themed bar in Tokyo. Love Joule , in Tokyo's A Shibuya district is a love and sex bar dedicated to
women or rather dedicated to women getting off.
Customers and their boyfriends can come and browse sex toys and discuss the best ones. You can buy a cocktail then browse a wall of sex toys featuring Lelo toys, silicone vibrators and anal plugs. You can down a shot and then talk Kegel balls.
Bill C-36, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, was signed into Canadian law last week.
The law nominally legalises the sale of sex. Interactions and communications between prostitutes and customers, however, remain illegal. And so has become the purchase of sex.
Unfortunately for sex workers, because their customers are criminalised, the men will resist such basic safety measures such as providing ID just in case of trouble. Fearful customers will also sensibly insist more anonymous locations so as to
minimise the risks of being discovered.
This is a briefing we ( prostitutescollective.net
) have prepared against a clause to the Modern Slavery Bill which aims to criminalise sex workers' clients.
Please send your objections (model letter below) to the clause as soon as possible. It will be discussed next Tuesday 4 November in the Report Stage of the Bill. Please send letters to the Chair of the Modern Slavery Bill Committee
Frank Field MP
, the rest of the committee
and to John McDonnell MP
Briefing against clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill to prohibit the purchase of sexual services.
An amendment and two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP aim to make the purchase of sex illegal, remove the criminal sanctions against prostituted women and provide support to women who want to leave
We support the amendment which would remove the offence of loitering and soliciting for women working on the street . This decriminalisation should be extended to sex workers working from premises. The brothel-keeping legislation should be
amended so that women can work more safely together. In 2006, the Home Office acknowledged: . . . the present definition of brothel ran counter to advice that, in the interests of safety, women should not sell sex alone.
We strongly oppose the clauses criminalising clients , on the basis of women's safety. Criminalising clients does not stop prostitution, nor does it stop the criminalisation of women. It drives prostitution further underground, making it more
dangerous and stigmatising for women.
Any benefit from decriminalising loitering and soliciting will be cancelled if clients are criminalised. Women will have to go underground if clients are underground. Kerb-crawling legislation has already made it more dangerous for prostitute
women and men. In Scotland, since kerb-crawling legislation was introduced in October 2007, the number of assaults on sex workers have soared. Attacks reported to one project almost doubled in one year from 66 to 126.
Many of the claims that have been made about the impact of the 1999 Swedish law which criminalised clients are false and have no evidential basis.
The Swedish law has not resulted in a reduction in sex trafficking.
The Swedish law has not reduced prostitution.
Since the criminalisation of clients the treatment of sex workers in Sweden has worsened. (Please see Appendix for examples).
Evidence from sex workers has been ignored.
The criminalisation of clients increases women's vulnerability to violence.
The Safety First Coalition formed after the murder of five women in Ipswich opposes the criminalisation of clients.
Claims that prostitution is an extreme form of exploitation are counterproductive and ignore the economic reality that many women face.
An unholy alliance with homophobic religious fundamentalists.
The successful New Zealand model has been ignoredexamples being ignored?
The public support decriminalisation of prostitution on grounds of safety
The criminalisation of clients has been rejected in Scotland  and in France.
Sex workers and campaigners joined forces in the House of Commons to lobby against sections of new Bill which would criminalise clients.
Members of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP) argued that some clauses of the Modern Slavery Bill could increase the dangers faced by sex workers. ECP spokeswoman Niki Adams said:
We strongly oppose the criminalisation of clients, on the basis of women's safety. Despite claims that loitering and soliciting may be decriminalised, this will have little effect if clients are criminalised.
Prostitution will be pushed further underground, disrupting informal security systems among women on the street and displacing women into remote areas.
Offering solidarity at the event were members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). RCN president Andrea Spyropoulos said:
It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to criminalise individuals who are consenting adults having sex.
On health alone it is not sensible to criminalise people because it changes their behaviour and puts them at risk.
Fiona Taggart's amendment to criminalise the buying of sex was withdrawn without a vote.
The government and many MPs didn't seem to have an appetite to include controversial elements to a bill seemingly enjoying the support of most MPs. The only debate was that Labour wanted to go further than the Tories in measures against the wider
remit of trafficking.
As soon as the topic of prostitution was raised it was clearly that some sort of decision had already being taken. An amendment was proposed that would require the government to review prostitution policy. It seemed widely accepted that far
reaching changes of policy on prostitution would be better addressed with some sort of formal reviews being undertaken first. Even Fiona Taggart seemed to concur that it would be better to go this route rather than suddenly declaring large
numbers of men to be criminals. So her amendment did not proceed after these comments and was presumably withdrawn.
But the Taggart's speech triggered a few strong pro and anti speeches that gave a flavour of the controversy the government seemed keen to avoid.
The amendment to require the review was defeated in a vote. However it did seem to reflect an approach that went down well with MPs. The timing of being at the end of the 5 year term of this parliament seemed to make it all a bit doubtful for the
moment...but the idea has been implanted for the future.
Update: The sex workers are unsurprisingly well pleased
We won! Our collective mobilisation defeated the amendment to the Modern Slavery Bill put forward by Fiona Mactaggart MP which would have criminalised clients. It dropped without even going to a vote. Another amendment put forward by Yvette
Cooper MP, Shadow Home Secretary, calling for a review of the links between prostitution and human trafficking and sexual exploitation was put forward as an alternative to Mactaggart's but that was also defeated.
This is a massive victory for the campaign against the further criminalisation of sex work. Hundreds of people and organisations responded to the call to write to MPs. The briefing in Parliament on Monday night, that we organised at very short
notice, drew a good crowd. The impressive line-up of speakers included sex workers speaking about the impact the clause would have on their work, Hampshire Women's Institute, Women Against Rape, student representatives, academics and union reps,
queers and anti-racists opposed to this further discrimination. Questions from the MPs (Tories, Labour and Lib-Dem) elicited a productive and informative discussion.
MP John McDonnell's contribution to the debate in the Commons today was outstanding -- we have been worked closely with him over many years, including on defeating this measure. He made reference to the wide range of opposition, quoting from some
of the many briefings and letters people had sent him, and countered the false claims put forward by those promoting criminalisation.
As a result of so many people acting so quickly and so effectively we are now in a stronger position to demand full decriminalisation.
Canada's Conservative government's callous anti-prostitution bill passed third reading in the Senate on Tuesday and
requires only royal assent to become law.
The government had wanted to get the bill through the legislative process by the middle of this month, so it could become law by December. That would meet the deadline imposed by the Supreme Court of Canada when it struck down existing laws as
unconstitutional last year.
The court found the laws violated the charter rights of sex workers because they were criminally prohibited from taking measures to keep themselves safe. Now they will be prevented from taking measures to keep themselves safe by their customers
fearing prosecution and so requiring more secretive and remote locations.
The Sex Professionals of Canada says the new set of laws won't improve things and will ensure violence against sex workers continues in Canada. In a statement on its website, the group says keeping criminalization in place will continue the
stigma and social exclusion of sex workers. The group also said it plans to continue to fight for rights for sex workers, saying this isn't over!
A municipal lawmaker in St Petersburg, Russia's second-largest city, has drafted a bill introducing heavy fines for the customers of prostitutes,
but they'll be forgotten if client agrees to marry the sex worker.
The initiative is from Olga Galkina who represents the pro-business Civil Platform party in the city legislature. She stressed that her bill was in response to the recent suggestion to make prostitution a criminal offence drafted by Vitaly
Milonov, known for his anti-gay drive, and other campaigns bordering Christian fundamentalism.
Galkina said she wants to change the Russian Administrative Code and introduce fines of between 4000 and 10000 rubles ($95- $240) or up to 5 days of jail for buying sex services. If customers know that prostitutes had been forced into this
business the fines increase to 50-100 thousand rubles ($1200 - $2380) and the terms of administrative jail to 10 or 15 days. The bill would also see convicted foreign nationals deported immediately after they pay the fines or at the end of their
The most interesting part of the bill is the possibility for clients to evade punishment altogether if they marry the person that provided the sex services.
If the St. Petersburg city legislature approves the bill in two readings it would be sent to the Federal parliament with the possibility to become a national Russian law.
In an unusual coalition, the two main opposing parties of Northern Irish politics have joined forces to pass new
legislation on human trafficking, with the result that clients of sex workers will now be criminalised in Northern Ireland. Until just before the late-night vote on Tuesday 21st October, it was unclear how Sinn Fein (the republican party, active
in both Northern and the Republic of Ireland) would vote, and the bill was complex, with over 60 amendments. Clause 6 of the proposed Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) bill contains the provision to
criminalise clients of sex workers. It is already an offence to purchase sex from a trafficked person in Northern Ireland.
Lord Morrow, a Member of the Legislative Assembly for the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) tabled this private members bill, which was opposed by the Justice Minister, David Ford on the basis that it did not adequately address consensual sex work.
An in-depth piece of research, commissioned by the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland, was released in the days preceeding the vote, but despite its clear and decisive conclusions, 81 MLAs voted for Clause 6 (10 voted against). The
Committee for Justice advising on the bill also visited Sweden to gain information about the Swedish Model of criminalisation of clients, and heard evidence of a trafficking victim in an informal meeting.
The research from Queen's University
depicts a small but active sex work community in Northern Ireland, with an estimate of 350 sex workers active in the country per day, 20 of whom work outdoors. The report suggests that trafficking victims account for less than 3% of that number,
fewer than 10 people. More than a third of clients surveyed believed that paying for sex was already illegal. Of the 171 sex workers questioned, less than 2% supported criminalisation of clients, 61% saying that it would make them less safe.
Northern Ireland has a population of around 1.8 million people, but the research noted that both clients and sex workers were highly mobile, and frequently borders were crossed both to the Republic of Ireland and other countries in Europe to
engage in sex work.
Speaking to the BBC
, one NI MLA explained that the law would be enforced using online surveillance, since according to him, people pay for sexual services using credit cards. The Police Service of Northern Ireland have so far refused to comment on how the
legislation would be enforced, but sex workers are widely known to rarely accept online or credit card payment, partly because of the need for discretion, and partly since few third party payment providers will allow transactions of an adult
Dr Jay Levy, author of " Criminalising the Purchase of Sex: Lessons from Sweden
", an in-depth analysis of 4 years of fieldwork on the subject, commented on the use of the Swedish model in Northern Ireland: "There is no evidence that levels of trafficking (or sex work) have declined since the criminalisation of the
purchase of sex was introduced in Sweden in 1999, and the law has exacerbated danger and difficulties for sex workers. Northern Ireland's stating that this law will be used to target and reduce trafficking is nonsensical, given that there is no
empirical data whatsoever to suggest it will have this effect, and given that the law is of great harm to sex workers'wellbeing and safety."
In France, politicians voted to criminalise clients, but the bill was struck down in July by the French Senate Select Committee. A bill to criminalise clients of sex workers was similarly considered in Scotland in 2013, but did not pass. The
Northern Irish bill will also have to pass 3 further stages before becoming active legislation.
In November, MPs in England are scheduled to vote on an amendment to the Modern Slavery Act which would similarly criminalise clients of sex workers. An All Party Parliamentary Group was convened last year to consider the evidence regarding
suitable legal provision for sex work.
Switzerland has announced that it will stop issuing special work permits for foreign strippers, who hail from countries such as Russia, the
Dominican Republic and Thailand. The government said that the eight-month permits would no longer be granted after the end of 2015, on the grounds that they had stoked sexual exploitation in the country.
Women are forced to drink alcohol, to prostitute themselves, and it is very difficult to prove it, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told reporters.
Created in 1995, the permits were intended to protect foreign women who wanted to work as nightclub dancers and strippers from unscrupulous players in the sex business. but now the government has decided that so-called L permit status for
the women was not having its desired effect.
From January 1, 2016, only women from the European Union will be allowed to come to Switzerland to work in nightclubs.
Dancers at a Washington strip club are suing to prevent officials from releasing their names and addresses due to a public records
request. Because most strippers are required to have an entertainer's license , their identities are on the record.
Two unnamed dancers filed the complaint against Pierce County, on behalf of about 70 dancers and managers at Dreamgirls at Fox's, as well as any former dancers. They are asking county officials not to release copies of their business licenses, and
thus real identities, to a man who has filed a public records request for that information.
Gilbert H. Levy, an attorney for the dancers, acknowledged that the information can legally be released under the state's Public Records Act, but that the entertainers have free-speech, privacy and safety interests in keeping the licenses and
their true identities confidential.
The request from for copies of all adult entertainment licenses on file for Dreamgirls at Fox's did not list a reason for the filing. Elizabeth Nolan Brown at Reason.com speculated that it's entirely likely the person who wants this information
is a crazy stalker or an anti-sex nutjob. Maybe both. Maybe merely a blackmailer or a 4chan-er. At any rate, it's hard to imagine many non-nefarious reasons for requesting personal information on a wide swath of individuals in a sensitive job.
Consenting sex is not a crime. Criminalising clients will not stop prostitution; it will push it
further underground, making it more dangerous and stigmatising for sex workers.
Most sex workers are mothers, mostly single mothers driven into the sex industry by lack of economic alternatives to prostitution: unemployment, poverty, low and unequal wages. Many are young women trying to pay extortionate rents, university
fees, debts . . .
Where is End Demand's outrage at UK benefit cuts and sanctions which are hitting mothers and children hardest, at mothers skipping meals to feed their children or having to resort to food banks?
What they say about the Swedish model is misleading and hides the truth: 25% of Swedish single mothers now live in poverty compared to 10% seven years ago; sex workers who are mothers face losing their children; sex workers facing violence are now
too afraid to go to the police for protection as the stigma of prostitution has increased.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on prostitution which last year recommended the criminalisation of clients, refused to look at any of that. They have also refused to disclose how many of those who submitted evidence to them actually agreed with
the criminalisation of clients. John McDonnell MP has asked to see the submissions but the APPG has been unforthcoming so far. They also refused to look at how decriminalisation was working in New Zealand, and its positive impact of sex workers'
health and safety.
End Demand quotes Alan Caton, Suffolk's former Chief Superintendent. But the murders of five women in Ipswich in 2006 were preceded by a police crackdown. So were the murders of three women in Bradford in 2009-2010. Sex workers were hounded and
forced out of their established red light areas into bleak industrialised areas, away from the concerned eye of the community.
We are not the only ones to have noticed that crackdowns endanger women's lives. Mariana Popa, a young immigrant mother, was murdered on the streets of Ilford, London, last October, in the wake of a police crackdown against clients. Following her
death, senior police officers raised concerns that operations to tackle prostitution are "counterproductive" and likely to put the lives of women at risk .
Chris Armitt, the national police lead on prostitution in England and Wales, also called for a review of enforcement tactics aimed at prosecuting prostitutes:
We are not going to enforce our way out of this problem. It simply won't work. I feel it would be good to allow a small group of women to work together, otherwise it creates a situation where they are working away from other human support. I
think the disadvantages of working alone outweigh the advantages.
While more and more time and resources are being diverted into policing prostitution, rape and child abuse continue on a mass scale despite thousands of victims coming forward. Where were the police when children were being abused in Rotherham,
Rochdale, Oxford, and in children homes all over the country? Where were they when women and their children were killed by violent partners and ex-partners? Where are they now when the same perpetrators continue to avoid prosecution? What is their
connection to the perpetrators whose crimes they have aided and abetted?
Increasing the powers of police to deal with prostitution has already resulted in more arrests, raids, stealing and seizing the earnings of sex workers, and other abuses of power and corruption. No one who is calling for the criminalisation of
clients has shown any interest in this.
The North of Ireland Assembly has just voted to criminalise clients. But Scotland has refused and so has France. It is time to look at decriminalisation and that's what we are campaigning for.
Around 17,000 men in Northern Ireland, 3% of the adult male population, pay for sex each year, according to new
The first report of its kind on prostitution found that criminalising prostitution here would put sex workers in greater danger, was unlikely to deter customers and almost impossible to police.
Queen's University questioned 171 sex workers online, 31 of which said they lived in Northern Ireland while 62 said they had sold sex here. Also quizzed were 446 people who had paid for sex, 51 of whom live here and 89 who had purchased it in
The research found:
61% of sex workers thought changing the law would make them less safe;
85% of sex workers believed outlawing the purchase of sex would not reduce sex trafficking;
2% of prostitutes supported criminalising the purchase of sex;
16% of clients said a change to the law would make them stop paying for sex.
Researches said there were around 350 sex workers available in Northern Ireland every day. The vast majority are online, with about 20 estimated to be involved in street prostitution, mostly in Belfast and Londonderry.
But of course the pleasures, livelihoods and safety of so many people means little to many selfish politicians who seem to enjoy putting other people in prison so they can feel good about their own equality or whatever.
Now paying for sex is to be banned in Northern Ireland after members at the Stormont assembly backed the proposal.
The human trafficking and exploitation bill was tabled before the assembly by Democratic Unionist peer Lord Morrow.
The fate of the bill's contentious clause six, proposing the ban on purchasing sex, was uncertain at the outset of the debate, with Sinn Fein's decision to back the prohibition along with the DUP proving crucial. The clause was passed during the
bill's consideration stage by 81 votes to 10 shortly after 11.30pm.
Stormont's justice minister, David Ford, leader of the cross-community Alliance party, opposed the clause.
While the legislation still has to pass further assembly stages, the significant majority support within the devolved administration means it is essentially now destined to become law.