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The adoption of Swedish style legislation in NI, that will criminalise the clients of sex workers, (which, although not law yet, has been passed with the support of the majority of NI politicians) is a telling example of how sex workers are treated by many politicians. It would seem that evidence from sex workers is easily dismissed, perhaps even deliberately concealed, while the voices of sex workers, the very people whose lives will be disrupted and made more dangerous by punitive legislation, are both ignored and even treated with contempt.
A very brave former sex worker, Gaye Dalton, has given permission for me to reblog her post explaining how evidence has been withheld or/and ignored by politicians anxious to use the Swedish model to not just to punish sex workers, but to actively seek to eradicate sex work in Northern Ireland.
I have just sent this email to Justice Ministers North and South. It is my fault, when things upset me I cannot look at them, and I did not check.
Those depositions were signed and checked with the Peace Commissioner, there is no chance of a missing page. The deposition for Stormont went straight into an envelope before I left.
I also sent a scan of another signed deposition by email to facilitate processing by admin staff. I can prove that had all four pages.
Apart from being blatantly corrupt and vindictive the publishing of a sworn deposition without specifying that it has been excerpted or edited may well be seriously illegal.
But what is MOST sinister are the contents of the page that was omitted…see for yourself. Whatever their reason for omitting that specific part let’s make it public and find out what happens.
Dear David Forde,
Finally trying to read through Monday’s debate…it’s not easy…legislation based on propaganda rather than proof is a terrifying revival of the rise of facism in the 20s and 30s.
What makes it much harder is that I have a close friend within 20 miles of Belfast who is currently being cornered towards a straight choice between sex work and suicide by blatant and brutal failing in the system to claims to support and protect her. What I find most horrifying about abolitionism is that it creates a fiction of traffickers and pimps to mask the real failings in the system that will go on forcing women to sell sex perhaps even more than ever before without court of appeal or redress. Punishing the consequences rather than the cause of deeply wounding personal nightmares.
But that is not what is so urgent. It occurs to me that I am the only person who submitted *any* evidence to the Justice Committee under oath and legal obligation to tell the truth with legal penalty for lying. I sent your office the same signed deposition (not a photocopy actual signatures) on about March 3 2014.
The Justice Committee devised their own informal penalty for telling the truth by publishing that deposition (which was otherwise ignored) my full private (and isolated) isolated rural name and address and both phone numbers on page 1289 of their reporthttp://archive.niassembly.gov.uk/justice/report/human-trafficking/Report-on-Human-Trafficking-Bill.pdf along with the name and landline of the elderly widowed peace commissioner involved. This would be an unjustifiable breach of my right to privacy under any circumstances, but I am a autistic recluse who is unable to even live near people, which is formally documented, and also 100% genuine (Not always the same thing but it is in my case).
To add insult to injury while including my name and address they omitted the last page of the deposition (I was actually too upset and frightened to notice that until today), a decision that may be, in and of itself unlawful, as they concealed the omission and went straight to the sworn declaration, I will give you the text of the whole deposition now to save digging for it, and I am happy to send a scan or even a second hard copy. (Omitted text in bold italic):
———-being aged 18 years and upwards do solemnly and sincerely declare as follows :-
The only payment I have ever received for my work on the sex work issue since was a €30 – €40 phone credit as a thank you from a donor who is anonymous to me early in 2013 and an unsolicited £20 note from a Nun connected to Ruhama at their conference in 1994. I pay all my own expenses. This is important to me not only to show sex workers they are worth my time and effort but because payment compromises neutrality.
I sold sexual services on Waterloo and Burlington Roads in Dublin 4 between approximately June/July 1987 and March/April 1993.
Since moving from Connaught to Leinster in 1989 I worked there 5 or 6 nights a week (usually taking at least Monday off). I would usually arrive at about 9:30pm and work until at least 2:30am.
I spent most of my time on the streets either walking or in two places:
In cold or wet weather I might also sit in my car either at the top of Waterloo Road, or on Burlington Road looking out on to Waterloo Road.
The sex workers and regular clients were a small community that could be compared to the regular clientele of a pub, we all knew each other, at least by sight and were very much aware of new people, unusual occurrences, or any form of crime or abuse.
Every woman I knew at that time worked independently, for herself, apart from two women who were in personal relationships that would have been abusive and coercive in any environment. (I enabled one of these women to escape with her children.)
Anyone who seemed underage was prevented from working, sent home if possible and reported to Gardai. Many of the women had teenage children of their own and were not easy to fool in this respect, and this would be a very unusual occurrence.
Drug abuse was extremely rare and many women were actively involved in the “concerned parents” movement in their local communities.
At no time did I ever see, or hear of “Rachel Moran” author of “Paid For” and founder of “Space International” nor anyone resembling her, working in that area. In her book she claims to have worked near the corner of Wellington Lane from early evening until “the small hours”, which would have placed her within 15 yards of me for several hours most nights.
I have asked several people I retain some contact with, or could locate, from that time and nobody else can remember her, or anyone like her, not only there but in any form of sex work indoor or outdoor, at any of the times she claims to have worked, between 1991 and 1998.
Beyond this, in her book “Paid For” and online blog “theprostitutionexperience” she has described several people, but not one of them even resembles anyone I ever met or heard of.
Like any small community of people there was gossip. As a result we knew plenty about each other’s lives and were familiar with the known details of any abusive, awkward, or even interesting clients. She does not allude to anyone recognisable to me at all.
At no time does she show any awareness of the terminology we used, nor even the material realities of our work.
She has also, at times, claimed to have been arrested for soliciting before 1993. Not only was this impossible, but also, one of the first things you would be told as a sex worker at that time is that you could not be arrested for soliciting. She did not even know that.
Rachel Moran is making money from her book and speaking engagements as well as seeking funding for “Space International”, aimed at exploiting any form of future criminalisation of sex work, and making significant input into Justice Committees both sides of the border through totally misrepresenting herself and that entire community and time. Meanwhile real sex workers are denied all safe access to self representation to refute through the callous exploitation of existing stigma (that not only threatens sex workers but also their children) and blatant stonewalling.
I understand that it is unlawful for a person to obtain financial advantage from deceit, but I am personally more concerned with the damage to vulnerable, voiceless people that Rachel Moran will do with her lies. The idea of anyone so unscrupulous having any degree of control over sex workers’ lives in future, and particularly those who wish to leave sex work and are particularly vulnerable and unprotected, absolutely horrifies me.
Justine Reilly, her partner in “Space International” (all reference suddenly removed from website in past few weeks) was discovered to be a convicted pimp in February 2013, after initially, putting herself forward in the media as a helpless victim. I have never observed her to show any remorse towards the women she exploited, while at least one of these same women has been openly chastised by Ruhama for “disrespect” for alluding to her convictions.
During consultations in both North and South of Ireland genuine sex workers have been treated as animals who cannot think and speak for ourselves while dishonest persons such as these have been put forward as speaking for us. Genuine sex workers have been abused, intimidated and excluded while blatant lies are treated with the greatest courtesy and respect.
Real sex workers are informed that we suffer from many kinds of trauma but no note is taken at all of the far deeper trauma of being silenced and misrepresented in this way. Often by organisations in receipt of significant public funds on the pretext of supporting us.
I hated sex work and desperately wanted a way out but sex work was, literally, the only way I had to survive at the time and that would still be the case in a similar position now. I have spent decades learning this truth from experience.
Those responsible for my reality deserve to be punished and eradicated from our society for the common good. They are as follows:
My clients as a sex worker gave me, not only survival, but a decent living, independence and self respect. I found that helpful and supportive and was thankful for it.
Sex work is never the problem, it is always part of the solution.
The Nordic Model serves as the indirect persecution of sex workers by striving to destroy the market their livelihoods depend upon made worse by openly acknowledging the fact that many have no realistic alternative means available. The Nordic Model is promoted, proposed and reinforced by a strategy of misrepresenting sex workers lives, motivation and needs while restricting all support and resources to those who comply with this misrepresentation and striving to penalise those who do not.
The Nordic Model is deemed politically desirable because it indirectly denies the true impact of austerity and pays lip service to counterbalancing the elements of forced labour that are creeping into welfare provision.
The Nordic Model is popular with NGOs because it has the potential to maintain and increase their funding.
Once I truly believed that if anyone told people the truth about sex worker’s lives they would understand and feel remorse and, at least, leave us in peace, now I have seen, with my own eyes, that if anyone tries to tell the truth they are silenced, gagged, intimidated and shouted down while everything they have tried to say is pasted over with other people’s self serving and destructive lies.
The conduct of the “Turn Off the Red Light” campaign, and the resulting consultations, has left me finally incapable of faith in any aspect of the society in which I live.
I believe this is significant suppression of sworn evidence.