At the beginning of Woman's Hour on Radio 4 this morning two sex workers - Catherine Stevens and Sue - talked about their lives. Sue said that she had been seriously attacked when working as a sex worker from a flat. Catherine Stevens said that women working alone from flats are vulnerable to attack, but that when women choose to work together for safety they are breaking the law. She said she would like to have a change in the law so that women are allowed to work together. You can listen to the show here.
Yesterday (04/12/12) on the Today programme on Radio 4 (6 am to 9 am) there was a discussion on the subject of prostitution including the Policy Officer from the European Women’s Lobby (EWL) Pierrette Pape and Niki Adams from the English Collective of Prostitutes. The EWL want to create 'a Europe free from prostitution' with the Swedish model adopted across Europe. This would mean that a man who pays for sex will commit a crime, but sex workers will no longer be criminalised.
Pierrette Pape said "prostitution is about someone imposing his desire over someone else through money and we think it's a form of violence and if we want to build a society based on equality between women and men and human dignity we have to realise this and to put all efforts to change that".
In response to this ideological claptrap Niki Adams pointed out that a crackdown undermines safety among sex workers and forces sex work underground.
This is what Pierette Pape said in reply "the Swedish police says that first prostitution is a market so if the clients, the buyers, can find the women in prostitution the social workers can and the police can".
This is as daft as saying that if drug addicts can find drug dealers then the police can too. We know that in Britain prostitution in the West African community is underground and spread by word of mouth. West African prostitutes are invisible to the police but NGOs are aware of some of them.
There was also discussion of poverty among women especially mothers.
Pierrette Pape said that the decriminalisation of sex workers in Sweden has had some benefits for them. This is true, but criminalising men doesn't help with that. It's difficult for women to work safely from flats when their customers are wary of getting arrested.
Niki Adams said that the New Zealand model has had many benefits for sex workers in New Zealand, including increased safety. Pierrette Pape said that decriminalisation in the Netherlands hasn't decreased violence. Niki Adams replied that it isn't the Netherlands model that she is advocating, it is the New Zealand model.