Harlots Parlour

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Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon discusses the Hanna Morris Case on Woman’s Hour.

“Hanna Morris”

the woman who made the big mistake of thinking that British law would protect her and the women she represented from violent assault has been prosecuted and given a suspended two years gaol sentence. Hanna is in this situation because (as reported previously on Harlots) she called the police when violent men brandishing shot guns raided one of the flats she operated threatening the women inside by throwing petrol around with the intention of setting fire to the premises with the women present. Hanna called the police with the expectation that they would pursue, capture and hopefully convict the violent men that had attacked the women whom she represented. This expectation of justice is after all surely what any British citizen would expect of our police force. Unfortunately for Hanna the police did not pursue or arrest the men who had attacked the women but instead chose to close Hanna’s business and begin a prosecution against Hanna that potentially could have put her in gaol for up to seven years.

One could argue that for the police prosecuting Hanna was a lot easier and certainly more financially profitable (confiscation of proceeds of crime that was extended by the last Labour government making brothels a lucrative target for the police) than chasing men with shot guns. The sad fact however is that these criminals who are still at large are probably already planning their next attack secure in the knowledge that provided they stick to threatening and robbing sex workers then they can pursue a life of violent crime with little fear of police reprisal.

The police and later the judge could have taken a different approach and they could have prioritised the safety of (in this case) women. They chose not do this. The police one could argue (if one could feel any sympathy for them) are of course caught between doing the right thing while at the same time being obliged by the dangerous and unjust laws that persecute sex workers in the UK. I know that many police hate the laws they are forced to enforce around sex work and would rather be protecting sex workers and not persecuting them.

It is a sad reflection on our justice system and on British governments of all colours (although the last heinous changes to legislation were introduced by the last labour administration) who have sent a clear message to criminals. They have told criminals that if you want to beat a woman (or man), rob them, perhaps rape them and generally have an easy target to persecute; then target a sex worker because the police will effectively aid you in your assault because for a sex worker to seek the protection of the police will make them vulnerable to prosecution as with Hanna Morris. This judgement against Hanna clearly tells sex workers that the police are our enemy and must be avoided and never trusted.

I only hope that our government and those sex worker haters who constantly bray for the blood of sex workers and of our clients and who call for even more aggressive persecution can actually sleep at night knowing that women and men are now no longer protected by the law for the heinous crime of having consensual sex.

On todays womens hour Dr Belinda Brook Gordon who has worked tirelessly for sex worker rights and Heather Harvey from the Eves project, an anti sex worker organisation that applauds the persecution of clients and who calls for more police action to close safe working premises debate the Hanna Morris case. You can listen” HERE”
. The discussion is at the beginning.

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About Douglas Fox

3 comments on “Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon discusses the Hanna Morris Case on Woman’s Hour.

  1. bint alshamsa
    5 April, 2011

    In other words, the police and courts decided to treat these sex workers like they do blacks, Pakistani, and Arabs. *sigh* Everyone who belongs to a marginalized community should look at this case and understand what Morris found out: You only stand to lose more by calling the police if you’ve been the victim of a crime. The police are not in the business of helping us.

    • elrond
      6 April, 2011

      I had reported to me a case yesterday of a migrant sex worker who was arrested by the police. That was two years ago, They wanted to charge her with managing. They have no evidence and have been unable to charge her. They confiscated her money, so she now has little. The HMRC became involved with unpaid taxes. She can’t pay them because the police won’t give back the money. HMRC don’t seem to consider this a reasonable expense.

      Solicitors have failed to make progress, and at appeals with HMRC she ends up paying costs.

      It all sucks rather. Last I heard of the Bedfordshire brothel owner, Claire Finch, who was acquitted by jury was that the police were still hanging on to money confiscated at the original raid.

  2. Douglas Fox
    6 April, 2011

    These abuses (and that is what they are) need to be brought to the public attention and to the attention of MPs.

    In a sense shame at the injustice of the law is a tool that we have to learn to manipulate. At least these abuses are hard facts unlike the propaganda of the anti lobby who exploit their own exaggerated stories of abuse to create a moral panic and emotionalised hysteria that has little if any factual evidence to support it.

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This entry was posted on 5 April, 2011 by in Anti Sex Work, Government Brutality, Human Rights, In the Media, Safety.
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