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I would add to this that not only are the UKs sex laws Victorian and sexist but very, very dangerous. We need funding to take British sex laws to task as a dangerous infringements of human rights and civil liberties.
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UK’s sex work laws are “Victorian and sexist”, ASP says PDF | Print | E-mail
Written by Under the red light
Thursday, 14 July 2011 12:21
With her blonde hair waving in the wind, Fiona Patten walks down Regent Street, in London, wearing a red dress.
She is the leader of the Australian Sex Party, a political group that emerged in 2009 as a response to what the party described as “the sexual needs” of Australians living in the 21st century. Among other political flagships, her party has campaigned against sex slavery, for the development of sex education in schools and also for a new classification for adult material.
As a long-time campaigner on behalf of the sex industry, Fiona Patten criticises Britain’s legal stance regarding sex work, and calls for a deep legal reform.
In England, it is legal to sell sex, even though activities like loitering or soliciting are forbidden. How do you describe the current laws on sex work?
But the law aims at defending sex workers, by taking them off the streets and by forbidding brothels. Doesn’t the law protect sex workers by isolating them?
Fiona Patten: Absolutely not! First of all, the law says you cannot live of a sex worker’s earnings. That would mean that landlords, electricity suppliers, Internet providers are all technically living of their earnings. If you took the law to its word, you could argue that a sex worker would have to work in the dark, in a house that he or she owns and probably on a piece of straw mattress. These workers need support: they need to be able to employ cleaners, security people, and receptionists – a whole range of services that make a business work. I can’t possibly see how you can say that, for the fact that they are working alone, in secret, it is safer than working as part of a group or a workplace.
But, in countries like Netherlands, where brothels are legal, there are still major issues to tackle, like female trafficking and money laundering. Is that model right?
FP: I actually think the Dutch model proved to be wrong, because it didn’t completely decriminalize sex work. Instead, they regulated it. If a criminal works in a legal industry, they are much more exposed than they would be if they worked in an illegal industry.
At the same time, other countries have found sex workers could be protected, if they were allowed to sell sex, while those who buy it are prosecuted. Like Sweden did.
FP: If you allow sex work to be legal, but make the purchasing of it illegal, you still turn it into an illegal industry, you push it underground, and you put the people that work in that industry far more at risk. If you treat it like any other job, as something that requires health and safety regulations, as any other workplace would, you can ensure the safety of sex workers far more readily.
And that is an option that some Australian states have made. From your point of view, would that be the ideal model?
FP: In Australia, we largely have legalized or decriminalized prostitution in most states (in six out of eight states). Ideally, we treat this as any other business. We treat it the same way whether it is a bakery, a hair-dressing salon, or a fitness club that needs to have health and safety regulations, to ensure the health and safety of the customers and the service providers. We don’t treat it like a different industry that needs its own special laws, that needs its own special protection. We’ve given a few steps in that direction, but sex workers should be allowed to operate in commercial areas where other commercial businesses operate.
Feminists say that, if sex work is legalised, the State will be endorsing subordination relations between men and women. Wouldn’t your solution reinforce stigma?
FP: That argument comes from people who think that there is a stigma on sex! Sex is a totally natural part of our lives and we wouldn’t be here without it. It is a problem to say that, just because someone provides a sex service, that service somehow degrades him or her! And to get caught on the argument that sex is somehow negative for women and positive for men is completely sexist. Clients don’t look for sex workers, because they want to overpower women. They are there, because they want some form of intimacy that they can’t get in other parts of their lives.
But, by allowing sex to be sold, aren’t you hurting public morals?
FP: I see no problem at all. About 95 per cent of us have sex for some other reason, than procreation, and do it for something other than love. We all do it for different reasons and the fact that someone provides it as a service and puts a price on that is no less immoral than a vicar charging for a wedding, or a psychologist charging for you to lie on their couch. It isn’t immoral at all.
Source: Under the red light