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The IUSW (International Union of Sex Workers) have issued a public statement regarding the recent events in Shipley, Bradford. The IUSW will also be shortly writing to the Prime Minister and other government ministers asking for a review of the bad laws that target sex workers and force them to work in dangerous situations with often very tragic consequences.
28 May 2010
The IUSW and GMB sex workers’ branch call to prioritise safety in the wake of the Bradford murders.
The recent murders in Bradford have highlighted once more the human tragedy that results from laws that discount sex workers’ safety.
The International Union of Sex Workers released this statement:
An inherent contradiction between prosecution and protection.
There is an inherent contradiction between the police role of prosecution and protection, Street sex workers have faced additional criminalisation in the Policing and Crime Act 2009 (which defined persistent soliciting as more than twice in three months and removed the requirement for persistence by kerb crawlers); indoor sex workers are also more vulnerable as a result of premises closure orders. Bradford Police have acknowledged they have been using the full range of the law against women working onstreet – arrests, ASBOs and kerb crawling crackdowns.
endangers sex workers. It does not add to the options and support available, but increases antagonism and distrust between street workers and police. Those deterred by knowledge of police campaigns against kerb-crawlers are the most law-abiding; such campaigns do nothing to affect the behaviour of those intending to assault, rape, abduct, rob, or kill, who will not be prevented by the prospect of a fine for kerb-crawling.
Greater fear of the police
and a smaller number of clients does nothing to reduce the amount of money the women need, so street sex workers are more likely to interact with those they would otherwise avoid, cut prices in order to secure a client, take greater risks and engage in activities they would prefer to avoid, including sex without a condom.
leads women to work in more isolated locations (further from other sex workers) and to go with clients without negotiation as they have no time to assess potential clients or agree prices, boundaries, safe sex and other limits. Women are more likely to find themselves in a situation they would have declined with more time to make a decision.
the cost to communities
Sex workers pay the price most directly for this failure, at worst in tragedies like that currently playing out in Bradford, but communities also suffer the consequences of damaging and futile law enforcement.
Kerb crawling crackdowns result in:
• sex workers’ dispersal over a wider area
• sex workers are more likely to approach passersby in search of business,
• more aggressive competition to attract clients and between sex workers
• longer hours onstreet needed to generate the same amount of money
All of which not only harm women selling sex but increase impact on communities. In addition, women revert to other forms of crime as a way to make up the money that cannot be earned from sex work.
The Street Offences Act 1959 has had more than fifty years to demonstrate beneficial effects; the Sexual Offences Act 1985, which criminalises kerb crawling, more than twenty five. If this legal approach was going to solve the problems associated with street prostitution, it would have worked by now. Yet, rather than listen to the voices of projects that provide frontline services to women onstreet and to sex workers themselves, the Policing and Crime Act brought in “more of the same”.
putting safety first
The law endangers us, but it doesn’t have to be this way. In Liverpool, specialist service the Armistead Project and Merseyside Police have worked together, and crime against sex workers is treated initially as hate crime. Armistead have built trust with sex workers to increase reporting of crimes against them. The results speak for themselves – a 67% conviction for rape and 90% of cases for violence against sex workers that went to court during 2005 to end March 2009 resulted in convictions.
The IUSW campaigns for these policies to be adopted nationwide.
To contact the IUSW call 07772 638748.
To contact the UKNSWP call 07957 978018.
The International Union of Sex Workers is the only UK organisation of individuals themselves working in the sex industry. We campaign for human, civil and labour rights, and the full protection of the law for everyone who works in the sex industry and for the inclusion of sex workers in decisions which will affect our rights and safety. The IUSW offers a unique source of expertise and experience from people who see the reality of the industry day to day.
The UK Network of Sex Work Projects (UKNSWP)
is the umbrella body for nearly 70 frontline services across the UK, including Bradford and Huddersfield. http://uknswp.org/