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(en) Britain, SolFed*, DA #30 - Politicians and prostitutes

From Worker <a-infos-en@ainfos.ca>
Date Thu, 25 Nov 2004 08:19:57 +0100 (CET)

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David Blunkett's recent self-comparisons with Josephine
Butler are disgusting. Josephine Butler was a compassionate
woman who campaigned against the criminalisation of sex
workers and the segregation of prostitute women away from their
sisters. Blunkett's policies have been nothing but punitive,
and have made sex workers more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.
Blunkett brought us Anti-Social Behaviour Orders against sex
workers and clients, resulting in prison sentences of up to five
years, wrecking families in the process. He brought
Anti-trafficking legislation, which is primarily used to deport sex
workers. Police and immigration raids in Soho have demonstrated
how immigrant prostitute women are being particularly targeted
for arrest and removal, and nowadays, fear of deportation prevents
women from reporting violent assailants.

Blunkett has also brought more targetting of clients for arrest,
including disqualification from driving for those convicted of
kerb-crawling. Working women in Sweden report that new laws
criminalizing clients have driven women further underground and
made women more vulnerable to exploitation by pimps and
others. Women have less time to check clients out before jumping
into a car, and have to work harder and take more risks to meet
increasingly scared clients. Attacks have risen as a result. What is
needed is:

* A change of police and court priorities from prosecution to
protection. 60 prostitute women murdered in 10 years is 60 too
many (and the figure is probably conservative)! Anthony Hardy,
the 'Camden Ripper' was able to murder so many
women because the police refused to take his killing of sex
workers and his domestic violence seriously.

* Decriminalisation, i.e., abolition of the laws which criminalise
sex workers and clients. In New Zealand, where offences of
solici-ting, brothel-keeping and pimping have been abolished,
street workers have begun to leave the streets to work in premises,
and violent attacks have gone down. 'Managed safety
zones' in non-residential areas away from the community
become dumping grounds. Only 12% of women agree to work in
the Netherland zones - sex workers report that 'prostitutes
prefer to keep their anonymity, their freedom and their complete

* Increase benefits and the minimum wage, housing, the
reinstatement of housing benefits to under 18s, abolition of
students loans. Without these measures, women will still be
driven into the sex industry by poverty and debt, and will not be
able to afford to leave prostitution if they want to.

Contact: International Prostitutes Collective, Crossroads
Women's Centre, 230A Kentish Town Rd; London NW5
2AB Tel (0207) 482 2496 / 07956 316 899.
E-mail: ecp@allwomencount.net

Direct Action is published by Solidarity Federation, the British
section of the International Workers' Association
* Solidarity Federation is of the anarcho-syndicalist spectrum

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