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I admit to being shocked when I read this article. I am not shocked very often by the appalling treatment that sex workers receive at the hands of the media or the police, or at the hands of anti sex work campaigners. But this is different.
This type of police action exposes the government and the authorities as having no interest in the welfare of sex workers, only in shaming them or prosecuting them.
Why I ask are the human rights and civil rights lobbyists not up in arms at this fragrant abuse of human and civil rights? The answer I suspect is because these people are sex workers and everyone understands that human rights just don’t apply to sex workers, do they?
It increasingly irritates that groups like Amnesty International remain deafeningly silent. They and other groups make noises; quite rightly, over human trafficking, but sex workers right to work; right to expect the protection of the police and to be free from persecution, free from abusive legislation that specifically alienates them, then hardly a whisper escapes their lips.
Yes, human trafficking is a very real tragedy; it is an appalling abuse of human rights, especially where the abuse involves children and young women. Human trafficking however is not a problem exclusive to sex work. In fact evidence suggests that human trafficking involves only a minor proportion of the sex industry. Evidence also suggests that defining trafficking can be problematic. Being an illegal, migrant sex worker for instance, is not necessary evidence of that person having been trafficked.
The problem for sex worker activists and probably the reason why the human right lobbyists remains so embarrassingly silent is that human trafficking into the sex industry is “sexy”, while trafficking into other industries just isn’t.
Human trafficking involving the migration of thousands of Africans into Europe for example to pick fruit is just not as news worthy, not as heart wrenching as a story about an Albanian virgin sold into sexual slavery, chained to a dirty bed in a dirty flat and brutalised into providing sex to lots of men.
This is the type of human trafficking that will bring in the Celebrities
This truth is, happy hookers just don’t sell news copy. Stories about happy hookers will not persuade governments to open their purses and provide the services or support that real sex workers need. Simplistically it is easier to get money from governments, to get the police to act, to get human rights people to do their job, if you can emotionalise your campaign and ideally create empathy for an “idea” of a victim. Everyone likes victims; victims bring in the pounds, Euros or dollars.
This story in the Guardian represents bad policing. It is policing that is based on prejudices and assumptions. It is police action that is encouraged by government policies that are based not upon evidence but upon ideological, political posturing.
This type of police action is what the human right act was created to fight; it is what human rights groups should be fighting.
You can’t really blame the police, for them sex workers are just easy targets. It is the politicians who are to blame.