Wednesday, March 31, 2010

debate in the House of Lords about new legislation

In my last posting I wrote about the debate on the new legislation that I heard on Woman's Hour on the radio. This was about clause 14 and 15 of Policing and Crime Bill which makes men criminally liable for 'paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force'. It comes into force on April Fools' Day.

Two women debated each side of the issue, Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes and Anna Van Heeswijk from Object. I wanted to find out more about Object so I went to their website

On this site was a lot of false statistics and false arguments. I will deal with some of these in my next posting, but the most interesting thing for me was a link on this page to a pdf file of the debate in the House of Lords in November of last year

What was interesting was that 12 people spoke in the debate and 6 were for the new legislation and 6 were against it unless it was modified by amendment. Males and females were equally divided on the issue. 3 men and 3 women spoke on each side.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer spoke first and she said some very sensible things. After saying that coercion in prostitution was unacceptable she said this.

“I am not speaking to defend men who buy sex. I am moving this amendment in response to concerns about the effect that this legislation will have on some of the most vulnerable women in our society ...”

She went on to say this.

“Those who support Clause 14 say that making men criminally liable for, 'Paying for sexual services of a prostitute subjected to force', will drastically reduce the demand for such services and reduce the incentive for traffickers to traffic women. That belief contains two assumptions that I do not believe are correct: first, that most prostitutes are trafficked women; and secondly and more importantly, that this legislation will make that trade lessen and disappear by further criminalising the sexual services trade. The supporters of the Bill do not accept that it will drive the trade underground and endanger the very vulnerable women that they seek to protect.

If I believed that the Government’s assumptions were true I would support Clause 14. However, I have looked carefully at the evidence and it does not support those two assumptions. First, there is the evidence on trafficking, which we have had a lot more of since debating this in Committee. The Home Office figures on the number of people working in the sex trade who have been trafficked have themselves been widely challenged. That was no surprise to us because we quoted in Committee the work that was just being published by Dr Mai and that had been funded by the ESRC.The Guardian report of 20 October also produced many more questions about the veracity of the Home Office figures.

Be that as it may, let us suppose for a moment that the Home Office is right about the figures. The next question to answer is whether as a result of the provisions the sex trade will disappear, or whether it will continue to exist but as a less dangerous place for women to work. There is lots of evidence on that from countries all over the world, including the US, which, with the exception of one or two states, has a highly criminalised system. For us, however, the most persuasive evidence came from those who work with women in the sex trade and those who work with the women themselves. I want to share with the House some of what I have heard since we debated this in Committee.

As far as those who are trying to improve the life of women in the sex trade are concerned, I shall simply cite, for instance, Georgina Perry from the Open Doors project in the East End of London. This project has been going since 1993, and it sees about 1,200 women a year who work in indoor sex and about 300 who work on the streets. Many are migrant women. They do not believe that the percentage of those who are trafficked is significant at all, but that the women who they work with are there because of economics, not force. They believe that it is essential to tackle health issues, first and foremost, and to support the women. They are deeply worried by these clauses.

In theory, many academics who have studied these issues for years and years are, equally, deeply against the Bill — I am sure that Ministers are aware of their names. Perhaps most persuasive are those who see the really terrible side. Women Against Rape are also deeply worried by these clauses. When we debated the provisions in Committee, the Government stated that this new offence, “is distinct from rape because there is no requirement to show that the defendant knew or ought to have known that the prostitute was threatened or deceived”. — [Official Report, 01/7/09; col. 278.]

As these provisions introduce a lower tariff, there will be a temptation to prosecute under them even in cases where prosecutions should be directed at the offence of rape. It is extremely rare to successfully convict someone of rape, particularly in such cases.

However, the most persuasive case for my amendment is made by the women themselves through the English Collective of Prostitutes and the International Union of Sex Workers. I am aware that supporters of Clause 14 are somewhat dismissive of these women’s comments and claim that they often represent the views of pimps and exploiters. However, that is not the case with the women I have met who have attended many meetings in Parliament. These women are very fearful that the trade will be driven underground.

We need to look again at the evidence from the JCHR, which made its case forcefully. It referred to the likelihood of the measure having unintended consequences, including driving prostitution further underground and increasing the vulnerability ofprostitutes. I do not think that the Government have provided new evidence to assuage the JCHR’s fears.”

She ended by saying this.

“However, in this instance I am deeply worried that the Government are pursuing a line that will increase these women’s vulnerability and will not solve the problem. We should be looking at better enforcement of existing law rather than creating this new offence.”

Lord Morrow spoke some rubbish about the bicentenary of the abolition of the slave trade and the 175th anniversary of the release of all British colonial slaves in relation to contemporary 'sexual slavery'. He went on to talk about the issue of forcing prostitution further underground.

“I am of course aware of the argument that says if you make it an offence to buy sex from someone subjected to force, you will push forced prostitution underground and women will suffer more. I do not believe, however, that this stands up to close scrutiny.

If we do not make it an offence to buy sex from people subject to force, women will continue to be drawn into forced prostitution and more and more will suffer.

If, on the other hand, we do make it an offence to buy sex from women subject to force, some men will think again, mindful of the fact that the shame of being caught buying sex from someone subject to force will be considerable, and fewer women will suffer.

Moreover, we must not forget what the Swedish police have told us; namely, that making buying sex an offence does not push prostitution underground in the sense of being beyond the law’s protection. Pimps have to advertise to their punters and reel them in, and it is in doing this that they give themselves away and the police can move in and take action.”

He is wrong because forced prostitution is rare in this country. The law will impact women who are not forced, and make their lives more difficult and dangerous. He seems to be suggesting that the police will always be able to find and arrest pimps. This seems such a strange thing to say. It's like saying the police will always be able to find and arrest drug dealers. If that was possible, there would be no drug-addicted street girls. Even I, who speaks out against drugs, can understand the argument for legalising some drugs (such as heroin) so that drug taking is no longer forced underground.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland decided that a few 'facts' were called for. She said this.

“Let me remind the House about numbers. The average age in Europe for entry into prostitution is 14.”

“Seventy five per cent enter before their 18th birthday.”

“Ninety-five per cent become hooked on class A drugs.”

Baroness O’Cathain then decided to give a few 'facts' of her own.

“According to the Home Office, as many as 70 per cent of the women involved in prostitution were drawn into—bullied into—prostitution as children.”

“Let me give you some facts: 85 per cent of women in prostitution say that they were physically abused as children; 70 per cent spent time in care; and 45 per cent have experienced sexual abuse.”

“We are so often told about prostitutes who regard prostitution as a business, one where some make much money, and can shut out of their minds what they are doing. But, if the research is to be believed, they are in a very small minority. According to that research, 90 per cent of prostitutes say that they want to escape prostitution, but they do not feel able to do so.”

“More than half the prostitutes involved in one study said that they had feared for their life at least once.”

I don't have to tell you that all of these facts are wrong. What do you think of a democracy where baronesses can make decisions that affect large numbers of women, some of whom are the most vulnerable people in society, based on false statistics, some of which are provided by a Home Office that is dishonest and has its own agenda? Remember that Baroness Miller had already stated that the Home Office statistics were not to be trusted.

Baroness Howarth of Breckland thinks that she can help poor mothers by taking their money away from them. She said.

"... or they are poor and are doing it to support their children. What kind of society allows the degradation of a mother, with all the social and health issues involved, to support her children? We can do better than that."

Both Baroness Howarth and Baroness O’Cathain talked about teen runaways and girls in care. These are common stereotypes of women who become prostitutes.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer restores my faith in baronesses.

One statistic is interesting. '90 per cent of prostitutes say that they want to escape prostitution'. If you did a poll of sex workers in walk ups in Berwick Street Soho, it would not surprise me if 90 per cent said they would prefer to be doing something else. I mention Berwick Street because I am familiar with it. There are many walk ups close to the market. I wonder how many of the sex workers would like to get up early in the morning in winter and work on Berwick Street market all day. Some would, some wouldn't, but there is nothing to stop them.

A lot of the talk was about strict liability which is a technical issue that I won't go into. Except to say that some people are trying to change the whole basis of how law works in our society for the worse.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

prostitution debate on Woman's Hour this morning

There was a discussion of prostitution and new legislation on Woman's Hour this morning, on BBC Radio 4. If you want to hear it, it can be downloaded as a podcast at the BBC website.

Changes in the law will affect prostitution and the licensing of lap dancing clubs in England and Wales. Cari Mitchell from the English Collective of Prostitutes and Anna Van Heeswijk from Object debate the impact of the legislation.

Cari Mitchell stated that police have been given additional powers to arrest and criminalise women who work on the streets.

She also stated that the impact of the legislation is that women going to have to work longer hours and take more risks in order to earn the money that they need. In Scotland where similar legislation has already been introduced there have been nearly double the number of reported attacks on sex workers.

Anna Van Heeswijk was asked about the idea that this type of legislation will force prostitution underground and will make life more difficult and dangerous for the women involved. As you know if you have read this blog I have said more than once that I oppose recent legislation for exactly this reason. Anna Van Heeswijk gave her answer and I have quoted it below because it is crucial to the debate. I have given a point-by-point reply to what she has said below the quote.

I think the idea that prostitution will be pushed underground is a genuine concern of a lot of people. But if you think about it actually doesn’t work in that way. If punters can find women then so can those who are wanting to provide exit services and support services for those women. If we look at countries such as Sweden and Norway where they have completely criminalised the purchase of sex and completely decriminalised those who are sold for sexual purposes, the women have no fear of coming forward because they are not going to be criminalised in fact they are going to be supported and actually the number of women in prostitution has decreased with more women being helped to exit. And importantly the European police have said that now Sweden is no longer an attractive destination for traffickers. The number of men paying for sex has decreased and it just creates a whole shift in cultural attitudes so that is no longer seen as acceptable.

This is my response to what she said:

1. If punters can find women then so can those who are wanting to provide exit services and support services for those women.

The new legislation will make it more difficult for punters to find women and more difficult for people wanting to provide exit services and support services for them.

2. If we look at countries such as Sweden and Norway ... the women have no fear of coming forward because they are not going to be criminalised ...

As Cari Mitchell stated that police have been given additional powers to arrest and criminalise women who work on the streets. This means that women will be even more fearful of reporting to the police crimes committed against them, including violence. The legislation will not affect the readiness of women to come forward for exit and support services.

Some more women will accept services (if they can find them) because they will have had their choice to earn money through prostitution in relative safety taken away from them. Life will be made so difficult that some women will have to give up prostitution. Others will continue. The ones who continue will be the poorest and the most drug addicted, the most vulnerable ones.

3. ... the number of women in prostitution has decreased with more women being helped to exit ...

If you legislate against something and force it underground then there will be fewer people involved in it. However, the ones who are still involved are harmed. That's the point. No one is saying that the number of women involved in prostitution will stay the same.

The reason why more women are leaving prostitution is not because they are helped to exit. It's because they are being forced to do something that they don't want to do.

You may say that if half of all lap dancers or prostitutes give it up then that is something. However, these women will live in poverty and will no longer be able to pay a mortgage, rent or bills. Not such a good result for them. Why can't they decide for themselves what is best for them?

4. Sweden is no longer an attractive destination for traffickers.

The numbers of women who have been trafficked has been grossly overestimated. It is in the interests of people who want to ban all prostitution to overestimate it, and to talk about pimps and children, as Anna Van Heeswijk did. I object to coercion in prostitution but most prostitutes are not coerced. Anna Van Heeswijk used the phrase "those who are sold for sexual purposes" to imply that all prostitutes are coerced. It is people like her who are doing the coercing.

5. The number of men paying for sex has decreased and it just creates a whole shift in cultural attitudes so that is no longer seen as acceptable.

It is true that the number of men paying for sex has decreased in places like Sweden. I don't think that paying for sex is a bad thing. I believe in the liberal principle that people should decide for themselves what they believe is good or bad, if it does not harm others. It is not acceptable for lobby groups or the state to tell us what to do or to try to control our behaviour. They have no right to 'shift cultural attitudes' and tell us what is 'acceptable'. Especially when we know that they are dishonest. They pretend that they only want to help the vulnerable but they have a hidden agenda. They use false statistics and false arguments. And they know they are doing it.

It is very important for women to have the choice to make money out of what can loosely be describes as 'the sex industry' without having sex. Lap dancing clubs and some massage establishments offer women this choice. By closing lap dancing clubs some women will live in poverty while others will become prostitutes. This doesn't help women, and it seems strange that some feminists want to do things that harm women.

Middle-class feminists don't want to understand how poor and vulnerable women live, and I don't believe they actually care. It is puritanism dressed up as ideology. A nonsensical and dishonest ideology at that, opposed to the liberal values our society is based on. They are more motivated by the idea of restricting men than enabling women.

Friday, March 12, 2010

happy ending

I have been exploring the periphery of Soho recently, parts that most people would think are Chinatown. I wrote in the PunterNet forum ('Soho walk up' thread) that I thought the Lisle Street walk ups would be Chinatown not Soho. Someone responded that they are Soho.

I have found two walk ups that I had not seen before. One was in Little Newport Street. Number 10. Uniquely, there is a little photo of the girl displayed in the doorway. There is only one girl there. Sometimes it is an oriental girl and sometimes it is a blonde.

I have been aware of another walk up nearby at 18 Newport Court. I went there once a couple of years ago because someone had said there was a nice girl called Chloe there. I waited with the talkative maid to see Chloe but decided not to stay after I caught a glimpse of her. She wasn't as pretty as he had stated.

The other walk up I found is at 26 Wardour Street. This is an unusual walk up in that you have to go up a spiral staircase to get to the flats. It doesn't seem as grotty as most Soho walk ups. I am wondering if this is the one that has been mentioned in the media. The one they tried to close down but failed.

I went to this walk up because someone had recommended a girl called Alina. When I went there I could not see her name displayed. There was a woman on the stairs with a dustpan and brush. She was quite young and attractive. I asked her if she knew if Alina was there. She said Alina didn't work there any more. She didn't know where Alina was.

Later that day I saw Victoria in Lisle Street. Upstairs from Natalie at number 2. She had had a couple of good reports so I thought I would give her a try. She is young and beautiful. She looks very 'Mediterranean' with black hair and a swarthy complexion. She has an impressive cleavage.

I couldn't really communicate with her as her English is not so good. She wasn't interested anyway, most of these young girls aren't. I had asked her to turn off the radio, as I always do, and she said something that didn't make any sense and didn't do it. I'm not going to go back to Lisle Street. I've seen a few young-looking girls there but they're not that much fun. Older women are better for me.

You might ask how can I be sure that Victoria is really Greek, or that Alice is really Italian. It is difficult to be sure. An Albanian could be fluent in Greek or Italian. She could have lived in Greece or Italy or be familiar enough with basic geography to answer a question like “What part of Greece/Italy do you come from?”.

I remember a couple of years ago I saw a Greek woman in Lisle Street called Katie. She was young, tall and slender as so many Soho prostitutes are. Usually the maids who look after the prostitutes are middle-aged or elderly women. But Katie's maid was in her 30s or 40s and beautiful. She was Greek too. While I was waiting to see Katie she was sitting in front of me talking on her mobile and positioning herself so that I could see her cleavage.

When Katie became available she asked me what I wanted, and when I said I wanted to play with her breasts she said that for another 20 pounds I could play with the maid's breasts too. I thought she was joking at first. I lay on the bed, with Katie playing with my cock, one of my hands on the inside of her thigh and my other hand touching the maid's breasts. The maid had taken her top off, but would not take all her clothes off.

This seemed to be something they did sometimes. Katie's breasts were quite small, so maybe she felt inadequate. However, the arrangement is against the rules. Two women cannot work from the same flat at the same time or technically its a brothel. A walk up is not a brothel but a private flat, which is why the police cannot close them down or even enter without permission.

A few years ago I saw a documentary about Soho walk ups. It showed Sandra/Sandy of 4 Old Compton Street and her maid. Sandra spoke on the show but her face was not shown. The maid spoke a lot and her face was shown. I have been with Sandra and I have spoken to the maid. Ritzy, another prostitute, also spoke. I saw Ritzy and this maid last year at 2 Green's Court. Some days they are at Green's Court and some days at Old Compton Street.

The maid has an important security role at the walk up. She protects the girl if there is any trouble with a punter. She opens the door and sits with the man if the girl is busy with another one. The maid will prepare food for the girl or go out and get her take-away food or anything she wants. In Soho there are many types of food available.

What you often find in Soho is a restaurant or shop on the ground floor and walk ups on the first and second floor. Two flats to each doorway. Or maybe it's second and third floor. Sometimes it seems a lot of stairs to climb. So sex is not the only pleasure that people go to Soho for. Food is too.

The other documentary I have seen was 'Vice Squad'. In one of the episodes Soho prostitutes and their maids talked about what they do. It was here that I learned that a walk up is not a brothel.

Soho walk ups usually look quite squalid. The ones in Lisle Street do. The stairs are usually unpleasant and often the rooms are too. Not every walk up in Soho is like that though. In Shepherd Market there are 3 or 4 walk ups. They seem to be much nicer, but they also seem to be more expensive. Shepherd Market is a different area from Soho, to the north of Green Park. It is a nice area, quite posh.

I didn't tell you what I was doing in Little Newport Street. I saw another PunterNet report for one of the Chinese herbal/acupuncture/massage establishments. This was for a different one than the last one. It was for Everwell Massage/Chinese Medical Centre at 7 Little Newport Street. The report was for a girl called Coco.

I decided to go even though I was short of money and I thought I might not have enough money for both the massage and the 'happy ending'. This was last Tuesday. I went in there and it looked very pleasant and professional. I said I would like a massage and I asked “Is Coco here today?”. A Chinese woman said she would be available in a few minutes and I could sit and wait for her. I had intended to pay 45 pounds for an hour massage but decided to save a bit of money and have a 45 minute massage for 35 pounds. The woman took the money and put it in the till.

Coco came into the room and the woman explained what I wanted. Coco introduced herself to me and asked me to follow her upstairs. She was pretty with long hair. She looked as if she could have been 18 although I think she is in her 20s. She is small and slender. I could see up her skirt as I followed her upstairs. She was wearing a short black skirt and black tights. I think I glimpsed another pretty girl similar to Coco.

We went into a small room with a massage table in it. She locked the door. Coco asked me if I wanted a medium or firm massage and offered me water from the water cooler. He English was poor. I took off my clothes and lay on the table on my tummy. The table was covered with paper and there was a hole for me to put my head.

It was a proper massage and felt almost painful at times. When I turned over I could see her face. I talked to her and smiled and looked at her lovely face. She smiled a lot and seemed happy. About 10 minutes from the end she pointed at my willy and asked me if I wanted her to do that. I said I did. She said I could pay another 20 pounds for topless and/or another 20 pounds for allowing me to touch her. I only had another 10 pounds in my wallet. She gave me a bit of extra massage till my time was up. No happy ending today.

I told her I would come and see her again next week, and this time I would bring more money and have the hand relief. I intended to do this, when I had more money. There had been a couple of things about Chinese massage that had made me a bit reluctant to try it again after my first experience of it. I didn't like the idea that you wouldn't know who would be giving you the massage, she might have been unattractive or unfriendly. She might not offer hand relief. You don't know how much she would charge.

The hand relief bit seems to be a private arrangement between the woman and the client. Nothing to do with the establishment. Maybe they don't even know that it goes on. Probably they just keep quiet about it. A couple of weeks ago I was wandering around Soho and I stopped outside one of these places. There are quite a few. A young Chinese woman in a white coat behind a counter beckoned me in. I asked her the prices for massage. She told me, and then I said quietly “Does that include a 'happy ending'?”. She looked surprised and gave an embarrassed smile, showing that she knew what the phrase meant, but then composed herself and said something like “I'm sorry, Sir. I don't think we can help you with that”.

Now that I know that I can ask for Coco and I know how much money I will be paying I would like to go back.

The same day I saw Coco I thought I would go to the Wardour Street walk up again and see if Alina was back. Her name wasn't displayed outside either the lower or the upper flat. As I was going down the spiral staircase four or five young men passed me going up. They looked as if they might be Eastern Europeans. I wondered what they were up to. I paused and saw that they had knocked on the door of the lower flat. The sign said it was an Italian woman called Nelly.

I was further down the spiral staircase and I could look up and see between the steps to the doorway. The door opened and I saw a tall dark-haired woman. I wasn't expecting this. Usually it is the maid who opens the door, although I have seen prostitutes do this before. She was wearing white lingerie that was a bit like bra and panties. She was like my idea of an Italian woman, shoulder-length curly black hair, not too skinny.

I could have waited to see what they said to her and what she said to them, and if she invited them into her flat. I was worried though that if they noticed me they might get angry. So I went out, but I waited in the street outside to see if they came out. They did not.

I was intensely curious about what they were getting up to. Were they all in her flat taking it in turns to go into the room and fuck her? Did she make them wait on the stairs and only let them in only one at a time? She hadn't turned them away or they would have been back on the street.

I was tempted to go and see Nelly the week after, when my financial situation had improved. It would be a pleasurable experience, and I could have asked her about these boys. As so often with me, I am motivated by lust and curiosity.

So on Tuesday this week I got lots of money from a cash machine and headed for Soho. But what to have? Chinese or Italian? (And I'm not talking about food.) But before I went to either I decided to go and see if Ivy was back in Greek Street. I didn't have much hope because she hadn't been there for a few months. To my surprise and delight her name was there, along with Amy. I could have seen Ivy that day, but I decided to wait a couple of days. I wasn't feeling too good. I hadn't slept well the previous night and I was feeling a bit grotty. It's important to be in the right mood. Also, I have found that if I refrain from masturbating for a couple of days then I am more likely to be able to orgasm.

So yesterday I went to Soho again, paid my 40 pounds for my 20 minutes (plus a 2 pound tip for the maid). We started with a bit of a massage and then she gave me some oral sex without a condom. She had given my willy a wash before we got onto the bed. Then the important bit started, the hand job.

She sat on the bed between my legs and used lots of lotion to wank me. I said, as I always do, “Can you talk dirty for me, Ivy?”. She said things like “Fuck the pussy, darling. Fuck my wet pussy. It's wet for you, darling. Oh, fuck the pussy. Fuck it.” over and over again in that lovely oriental accent of hers. I don't know what it is it just gets me going. I look at her lovely face and her lovely brown body and I have one hand touching her leg.

It took some time but eventually I could feel that I was coming closer and closer to orgasm. When I knew that I was past the point of no return I opened my eyes and watched my semen spurting out white against her brown skin. I got my happy ending.

We had some time left and I asked her if I could look at her pussy. She encouraged me to play with her clit, and then showed me her anus too. She does anal, and I might give it a go one day. Then we lay on the bed and cuddled. She told me she had been in the Philippines for the past 3 months with her family. She said she would be in Greek Street till the 31st of this month. I want to see her again before then.

There are younger, taller and slimmer women than Ivy in Soho, but I will always go back to her. Her flat is nice and warm, and the stairs up to it are not off-putting. These two flats are different from most Soho walk ups. The women seem to work every day for a few weeks and then are not there for a few weeks. Maybe when Ivy is not there I will see Coco or Nelly.