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Gail Porter on Prostitution

Gail Porter on Prostitution
Current TV, Sky Channel 183
10pm, Monday 13 September
Gail Porter travels around the UK, to the Netherlands and Sweden, interviewing sex workers and others to investigate whether prostitution should be decriminalised, legalised or banned.
Throughout her journey, Ms Porter shares highs and lows, laughter and tears with the women she interviews. She is at times overwhelmed but always respectful and compassionate. She concludes that women go into prostitution because they “need to live, to survive and support [their] family”, and that their safety must be the priority. While finding no situation ideal, she declares her support for decrimalisation and for the abolition of brothel keeping laws so that women can work together more safely.
Some of the women featured who are available for interview, include:

· Jenny, who has worked on the streets for over 20 years to support her disabled daughter. She describes how the criminal record she got in her younger years has stopped her accepting offers of other jobs for fear that if it became public she’d be considered an unfit mother and lose her daughter. “The only way to make prostitution safer and better for people is to decriminalise it.”

· Maria, who works on her own from her home or from flats around the UK. She walks Gail through her complicated security measures which are necessary because: “It’s not safe to work on my own. But if I work with my mates it’s not safe either as we’re breaking the law.”

· Amanda, who reveals how after her father died she was left with a young son, brother and mother to support. She came to the UK to earn money and started working in a flat in Soho. Now, a few years later, she says: “My dream was to become a hairdresser or a model or to open a beauty salon. . . but sometimes life makes you go in different directions. . . I still hope to…”

Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes, documents how even the government acknowledges that poverty, debt, homelessness and domestic violence are the primary reasons driving women into prostitution. She explains why decriminalisation as introduced in New Zealand should be supported: “Without decriminalisation women can never be safe.”

Also featured is Pye Jacobsen, a Swedish sex worker, who demolishes the view that criminalising clients (introduced in Sweden in 1999) has been of benefit to women. “Those feminists who have fought for women’s right to control our bodies and the right to say ‘no’ must also accept my right to say ‘yes’.”

For more information: English Collective of Prostitutes, 7482 2496, 07811 964 171

ecp@prostitutescollective.net http://www.prostitutescollective.net

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About Douglas Fox

11 comments on “Gail Porter on Prostitution

  1. SophieH
    11 September, 2010

    The fact that this ‘documentary’ has been made by Current TV does not fill me with confidence. This company have a long and disreputable history of treating their subjects like circus animals and using sensation over substance to sell their products. Let us ask ourselves, did they pay any of the participants for their time and contributions. I bet Gail Porter was handsomely paid!

  2. Marie Brown
    11 September, 2010

    Thank you for posting this. It would seem the focus of this documentary has to do with the much larger problem of poverty:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminization_of_poverty

  3. Douglas Fox
    11 September, 2010

    Hi Sophie,

    I doubt anyone was paid. I know that personally I dream of one day being paid for an interview. It seems to be expected that sex workers and activists will just willingly give their time because they are so enthusiastic.
    Yes enthusiastic I am (as are others)but it would just be nice, just once, to be offered some money for my time, my ideas and my experience. I doubt the sex workers in this documentary were offered anything.

    Maria,

    Apparently Gail Porter comes out very much in favour of decriminalisation according to the ECP (English Collective of Prostitutes). I am always a little less enthusiastic about this link to poverty as a reason for women or anyone doing sex work. It certainly was not the motivation for me doing sex work or staying in the business. Yes making money, we all work for money, but as a reason that somehow forces someone to turn to sex work? For me it plays to the stereotype ie all sex workers are either in the work because of poverty or to feed a habit. It may well be the case for some but not for all.

    Some sex worker activists in my view play this stereotype card because I think they feel it gets them sympathy from certain sectors who feel comfortable with an idea of working class/under class. It appeals to what I refer to as the phony consciences of champaign socialists of which there are a number who would not be so supportive with out this bogus link to alleged working class solidarity.

    For me sex work is a human rights issue, a fundamental issue about who owns your body. The state or you.

    It is work the same as any other form of labour. If you choose it and you choose to stay in sex work then you do so because it pays well and allows you flexible working hours that suit your life style.

    If your doing sex work to feed a habit then equally it is your choice.

    Obviously there are situations in various areas of the world where choices are very much more limited than in the west but even there being poor is no reason to turn to sex work. Plenty of people find other ways of making money.

    In my view linking poverty as a cause of prostitution is not helpful or truthful.

  4. Bella
    11 September, 2010

    The World Heath Organization submitted a report in 2005 to the United Nations, to address how to stop violence against women. They said all women and children need to be given shelter,basic services to include access to water, even in times of War and Displacement.
    Seems to me rather than continuing THE MORAL WITCH HUNT AGAINST CONSENTING ADULTS IN PRIVATE, that these do gooders who want to save us from ourselves would be concerned about these 500 women and children being raped by Armed rebels in DR Congo , or maybe since all countries of the United Nations agree to implement these services by 2015, and so far all the USA has done is thrown some hookers in jail, Stalked Middle Aged Women on line and then abused them during their arrests, hey call our employers and landlords as this is the Biggest Hate crime in America. Hating the sex worker just because she exists, is the same as racial hate, hating someone because of their sexuality or religion and LE encourages society to make these women social outcasts of their own communities. Do you think we will be safe if we become homeless and have to live on the street or would we just become a target for more rape and violence.
    All women deserve the same sanction and protection under the law, whether she gives it away or charges for her time, its nobodys business who I have sex with in private.
    If we are going to regulate sex workers, then we would need to regulate everyone having sex. Heath Dept studies already show sex workers have 80% less std’s then the general public, we do not want prostitution legalized so the pimps will continue to exploit our teenagers,we only want to be decriminalized and be allowed to work as independents without harassment from Law Enforcement , we do not want to be forced to work in brothels and be regulated, and we want to be able to report violence and abuse against us. In Sweden they no longer prosecute the sex worker, instead they made it illegal to buy sex so only the John and Pimps could be prosecuted and human trafficking went down.
    In Rhode Island they created a loophole for indoor prostitution back in 1979 and it worked well til Nov 2009, wen LE lied and said they could not investigate Human Trafficking without this new law. We all know that is a lie as all they have to do is knock on any door and say they need the women to step out side and say she is ok and does not need assistance or they are coming in to investigate, this is what they do in domestic violence cases. Also keep in mind the Craiglist Killer was caught because after he murdered the girl in Boston, he then came to RI robbed a women and she called LE to report it and he was caught. She did this because she knew she had protection under the law in RI.
    This is all about morals and not about protecting women.
    Keep in mind this could easily be your child, mother, sister, aunt or cousin or best friend. Now does it make sense that LE lies to the public and rarely do they lock any of these pimps up for 25 years for human trafficking but LE has all the time in the world to stalk middle aged adults online, who are clearly not being exploited nor are they minors.
    I for one use to pay the newspapers 12,000 a year to run an adult ad and I paid the yellow pages over 15,000 for a escort ad. Craiglist only charged 10 bucks and this gave the sex worker the ability, to get upscale clients who where willing to pay a lot more.
    If we went after predators and pimps with the same ZEST as we go after the middle aged sex worker our children might be a lot safer.
    Contact your local rep and demand they not spend your tax dollars on the moral witch hunt, we all know by making the industry go further underground that were making it easier for the pimps. It is not OK for women to continue to be abused by LE and Society because they don’t approve, what are we going to do next lock up the sluts in the bars that are just giving it away, or the NSA hookups or the swings clubs

  5. Michael Goodyear
    12 September, 2010

    Sex work is a complex subject with no one answer fits all. While it is pleasing to see that this reporter’s experiences convince her it is the laws that cause the problems not the work and should be repealed, it seems in danger of perpetrating other myths.

    Seeing sex work as a social problem is slightly more progressive than seeing it as an illness or a crime, however it addresses only a slice of the activities. Undoubtedly money plays an important part in decisions about entry and staying in – it does for most jobs. However sex work as a reflection of poverty is a line that the ECP not surprisingly pursues. There probably would be less sex work if women were paid a decent wage and had better employment opportunities.

    But money is only one aspect of this prism, and poverty only applies to some workers. However those who campaign against sex work as a women’s right issue might be better employed fighting for equality of opportunity and equal pay.

    I wonder if she discusses resistance, and how being self employed is much more attractive to women with children, particularly single mothers. Eileen McLeod in Women Working examined the economic and social situation of sex workers in the UK in the 70s compared to other occupations and concludes – why wouldn’t you be a sex worker?

  6. Douglas Fox
    12 September, 2010

    I have this awful impression from the promotional video that Gail Porter is moved to tears by the awfulness of those poor, poor sex workers forced by poverty and circumstance to sell sex.

    One day journalists and media types will actually stop thinking us as poor victims ans see us as people.

    I have approached a number of documentary makers and said instead of some well paid career journalist doing these documentaries and treating sex workers as curios why not ask a sex worker to interview other sex workers. Ask someone who knows the industry and how it operates and whom sex workers can relate to and who will not patronise other sex workers.

    So far such such an idea has fallen on deaf ears. Any would be media types reading this however be brave and why not give it a go. For once actually treat sex workers as human beings and not weird victims to be scrutinised and felt sorry for.

    We are not laboratory rats.

  7. Amanda
    13 September, 2010

    Douglas,

    I can do nothing but say “Hear! Hear!” for both your comments.

    XX

  8. Michael Goodyear
    13 September, 2010

    Unfortunately most journalism is sloppy and uncritical on this subject.

    Here is a very recent example – she interviewed two very knowledgeable academics (who stated later her mind was clearly made up before she started – see comments), and was sent scholarly articles on the subject. Yet she wrote a story with the opposite conclusions.

    To be fair though – journalists face pressures to tow a particular party line from editors. This newspaper is notorious for its anti-sex work bias.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/sep/11/paying-for-sex-prostitution

  9. Douglas Fox
    13 September, 2010

    I know journalists are “lent” upon by editors. I have been interviewed three times by my local newspaper and not once has the interview appeared.
    On one occasion they came to the house and took photographs and supposedly my article was going be centre page the following day.

    The following day however I received a phone call from the journalist very apologetically informing me that her editor had pulled the article at the very last minute.

    I have also noticed that I have not been invited back onto my local radio station where I was once a regular quest on any subject related to sex work. Now we have the usual assorted so called feminists telling everyone how awful it all is or complete silence.
    I was recently contacted by a BBC journalist very enthusiastically discussing ideas for an interview on TV with myself and others on the subject of sex work in the N East of England. Once again ,at the last moment she called to say that her “boss” had been called in over some legal matters concerning the programme and I have heard nothing since and no such programme ever appeared.
    So yes you cannot always blame the journalist every time and the preference appears to be the more negative the story about sex work the better. Ordinary, articulate sex workers would spoil the preferred image of the victim.

  10. Douglas Fox
    13 September, 2010

    This apparently is the channel that programme is being shown on this evening. Update sent this afternoon by the ECP (English Collective of Prostitutes)

    Gail Porter on Prostitution
    Current TV, Sky Channel 183
    10pm, Monday 13 September

  11. Douglas Fox
    14 September, 2010

    I watched the programme and it was OK.

    The police in Ipswich came across as bigoted fools. I honestly thought that the police officer was going to pat Gail on the head when he told her that no decent woman would ever want to be a prostitute. I wa convinced he was going to ask Gail if she was married and would she not be better going home to her husband and let him deal with these bad women.
    I felt so sorry for the woman whose flat was raided. The police officer was so obviously upset that he had not found a proper brothel and better still a real genuine trafficked victim.
    They still closed the poor woman down however on suspicion that it may have been used as a brothel. What a creep.

    Eves…well nice office (I wonder who pays for that) and the woman who smugly smiled through out her interview with her little knitted cardie was just nauseatingly smug.
    Yes she supported decriminalisation of women (thats nice) but she wants the clients persecuted and women will of course be forced to work alone because brothels you see are houses of exploitation. YEP.

    A real low was Gail sitting in one of those awful windows in Amsterdam. I admit that I would find that hard. I need a nice discreet room with candles and oils and subdued lighting before I can work (the subdued lighting of course may be an age thing :-))

    In the end Gail came out in favour of decriminalisation which was good and the right thing to do of course. But then sex workers always win the intellectual battle but will we ever win the war when there are such entrenched interests involving money and careers that want to keep us in our place as second class criminals, as freaks?
    Lets hope one day we will win the battle.

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