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I am very pleased to post two short films featuring Shelly Stoops from the Liverpool Armistead Street project. The films are short excerpts from a week long series by ITV Granada television called hidden lives. The series looked at aspects of the sex industry in that area of the UK.
One of the films features an interview with Hazel Blears who as a Labour MP and minister in the last Labour government shares some of the responsibility for the ill thought out changes to the law on prostitution introduced in the Policing and crime Bill 2010. She was also a labour MP and minister for ever tarnished by the “expenses scandal”.. Noticeably she seems to still manage to take the moral high ground despite her own less than scandal free past. Her claims to not want to normalise prostitution and her dislike of the term sex work reveals so much about the hypocrisy and double standards that prevail in the so called liberal ruling class. The safety of women and men who work in the sex industry (or any industry) should be the priority of any decent person regardless of how icky they may feel personally about that work. Not for Hazel Blears and her kind however.
The films spotlights street work which Shelly points out represents the minority of sex work, something Hazel Blears ignores. The street workers who did appear however were very brave to do so. If only some of the more mainstream sex workers were as brave and as willing to get involved it would make our collective struggle for rights much easier and help to challenge the media’s obsession with caricaturing all sex workers as people with social problems. It was also interesting how Blears picked up on the negative response from the woman working in the brothel when asked if she wanted her children to work in this industry. Perhaps her reluctance for her children to be in the sex industry was not the work but rather the social stigma encouraged by the criminalisation of so much of our industry and the resulting sleaziness and danger. Hazel Blears responses illustrate how successive governments are happy to discriminate against (government own estimates) eighty thousand sex workers, to place them in danger and to deny them basic human rights, just because they feel uncomfortable about our work. UK justice has a long way to go I fear.