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Sex workers ‘named and shamed’ on Met police website

 

Prostitutes and support groups censure operation to ‘out’ women in east London by publishing their photos and personal details

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/aug/06/london-sex-workers-police-website

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.

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About Douglas Fox

3 comments on “Sex workers ‘named and shamed’ on Met police website

  1. Sarah Learmonth
    9 August, 2010

    The same is true for rape victims. A report from the DoH came out in March 2010 saying the estimated figures for child rape and abuse are 16% of the UK under 16 population amongst other choice statistics.

    It never hit the news anywhere. There was no outcry, no public outrage and ultimately no change.

    Our Rape Crisis Centre will inevitably close services as a result of the Big Society and we struggle to have a voice that is acknowledged with statutory commissioners.

    Why? I get asked all the time. I just don’t know.

  2. Douglas Fox
    9 August, 2010

    I think it is the same problem where any abuse takes place and yet for some reason does not attract the “empathy” factor.

    From personal experience of 11 years in the sex industry I know how difficult it can be to access simple, practical help for the silent majority of sex workers who are not on drugs, not working on the streets and who definitely are not trafficked.

    All the money, all the media attention goes to the minority who do have issues.
    Perhaps this group do need help, however; the fact that they do receive so much attention affects
    government, media and public attitudes toward sex work.
    This is very frustrating.

  3. Amanda
    10 August, 2010

    This is just terrible. This doesn’t work in the US (naming/shaming), why the hell does anyone in the UK think it’s good policy? Of all the things to import from America — THIS??? I’m shocked, I thought the UK cops were a bit smarter. Guess not.

    XX

    PS: Glad that ya’ll FINALLY moved over to WP!

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This entry was posted on 8 August, 2010 by in Uncategorized.
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