delve a little deeper....
Ok, this is really bloody long, but I thought it might be useful both to comment on the questions asked, my interpretation of them and some possible ways of answering. Of course I am not saying Here are the answers, this is what is right, copy me!
What I am hoping to do is a) Give my opinions (It is my blog after all) b) Maybe someone will read my responses and be inspired to respond to the survey- that would make me happy and c) Possibly help guide someone one flummoxed on how to answer.
If anyone wants to pinch any of my responses I don't mind, but I think it's important to add your own personal experiences and views.
So, here we go!
6. Do you consider the current laws on prostitution in the UK to be effective and consistent in safeguarding those involved in prostitution from violence, exploitation, and/or abuse? Please answer 'Yes' or 'No', and provide reasons for your response.
Which laws? It even asks specifically for a yes or no answer! *sigh* not a good start.
Prostitution is itself not illegal- this is good. Brothel keeping is illegal- The definition of a brothel is more than one woman working in a location selling sex. This is a bad law, some women would be safer working with someone else. It is illegal to profit from prostitution as a third party- i.e a pimp. Pimping is procuring the services of a prostitute for another and taking a cut of the fee. This is illegal. If it’s a pimp who works by forcing, threatening or drugging a women then of course this should be illegal. However, parlours or agencies can provide support, advertising, security checks and so on for women and as a business should get a cut. Many women who don’t have a location to work from on web savvy rely on their agency to provide them with business. Good parlours provide a great support network and security for many women. I personally agree kerb crawling and soliciting should remain illegal, others may disagree. Laws regarding trafficking are good and the harshest penalties should be give for those found guilty of this.
If you answer Yes it implies you think that everything is hunky dory or that violence, exploitation, and/or abuse does not exist. If you answer No it implies you think that violence, exploitation, and/or abuse does exist and is a problem. It is for some women and isn’t for others. We already know that the ethos of this inquiry is to bring about paying for sex as illegal so saying No can be interpreted as No, we need to make prostitution go away.
Don’t just say either yes or no or else you will be plopped into a statistic saying something you don’t mean.
How I’m answering
Prostitution should not be made illegal, nor should paying for the services as a prostitute. The laws on brothel keeping need relaxing. It would be safer for women to work together legally for their own security and support.
Whilst it is illegal to profit from prostitution as a third party, parlours or agencies can provide support, advertising, security checks and so on for women and as a business should get a cut. Many women who don’t have a location to work from on web savvy rely on their agency to provide them with business. Good parlours provide a great support network and security for many women. I agree kerb crawling and soliciting should remain illegal. Laws regarding trafficking are good and the harshest penalties should be give for those found guilty of this.
There are already laws in this country that cover coercion, abuse, rape, theft and assault and can already be applied to those who are victims whether they work as a prostitute or not.
7. Do you consider the current laws in the UK to be a barrier to those who wish to exit prostitution? Please answer 'Yes' or 'No', and outline reasons for your response.
Again, which laws? I’m not entirely sure what the law has to do with those who wish to exit prostitution. Women who want to leave have all manner of barriers from the fact they are forced by someone else, have gaps in their CVs, are unqualified for other work or can not earn as much as they need to to live on in careers they are qualified for as well as high unemployment rates, a lack of part time work for those who are carers and so on. There are already laws in place and charities for those who need to escape from someone forcing them into prostitution.
I’m not sure what they are getting at. Can someone enlighten me?
How I’m answering
Women who want to leave prostitution have all manner of barriers from the fact they are forced by someone else (which obviously needs tackling and there are already laws that make this illegal) Other reasons are that have gaps in their CVs, have been outed as sex workers at some point and have a stigma attached to them, are unqualified for other work or can not earn as much as they need to to live on in careers they are qualified for as well as high unemployment rates, a lack of part time work for those who are carers and so on. The real issue is that escorting carries a massive social stigma which means many have to hide their work. Laws won’t change this, the erosion of Victorian morals in this country will.
8. Around the world, there are different legal settlements that govern prostitution. Do you think any of the legal settlements outlined in the summary above would be a good basis to base reforms in the UK on? Please give evidence and reasons to support your answer.
Ooh, a good question. However it relies on those answering to have a clue about the laws in other countries and how to interpret the statistics and spinning by those for and against!
The background on the first page of the questionnaire mentions New Zealand and the quote- ‘the majority of sex workers interviewed felt that the (act decriminalising prostitution) could do little about violence that occurred’ in the sex industry, and that the social stigma surrounding involvement in prostitution continues.
This implies it is a bad thing, however is the most popular model among prostitutes because brothels and agencies have been decriminalised. There has not been an increase in prostitution (a myth the antis have tried to perpetuate) and more women are reporting crimes against them.
This is a great article why decriminalisation works in NZ- http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6292753/Sex-conditions-safer-but-prostitute-stigma-remains
USA- Illegal to buy and sell sexual services. Not an option!
Canada- Very similar to the UK
The Netherlands- legal and regulated, including brothel running. During the 1990s, some 10% of prostitutes worked on the streets, 30% in window prostitution, 30% in a sex clubs, 15% in an escort service, and 15% in their private residence. However, there is some evidence to say that because of these laws the criminal element is high and is the top destination for human trafficking.
However, I think there is some merit in regulating the industry, but only if there are resources to prevent an increase in trafficking. I also think the problem with The Netherlands is based on a reputation and a culture which has made it a destination for buying sex- rather like Thailand. I don’t want this for the UK and I don’t want prostitution to become a career option for young women who are encouraged by financial gain yet not enjoy it.
Sweden- The laws on prostitution in Sweden make it illegal to buy sexual services, but not to sell them. Pimping, procuring and operating a brothel are also illegal. The criminalisation of the purchase, but not selling, of sex was unique when first enacted in 1999, but since then Norway and Iceland have adopted similar legislation, both in 2009.
As our survey tells us “ The aim in Sweden is to reduce or end prostitution rather than to manage it” which will obviously appeal to the antis in this country and for those offended by prostitution seems like a good idea.
This is a bad idea. In a nutshell- it will NOT make prostitution go away, it will push it underground, deprive some men of the only bit of affection they might get, make it impossible for women to report crimes against them if they carry on, criminalise decent men, makes hundreds of women ‘unemployed’ thus financially vulnerable, not stop the real criminals anyway.
And this will tell you in more detail why it doesn’t work:
How I answered
Prostitution will not go away. Nor is it a crime of violence against women, which was the thinking of the Swedish Model and the proposals in Scotland. I am hugely opposed to this. The closest legal settlement I support is of that in New Zealand where women who choose to work as prostitutes receive police support when required, have better access to health information. Research has shown that the Prostitution Reform Act (2003) has had little impact on the number of people working in the sex industry. Here is link to evidence. http://www.justice.govt.nz/policy/commercial-property-and-regulatory/prostitution/prostitution-law-review-committee/publications/impact-health-safety/2.-estimation-of-numbers
This article also demonstrates the positives- http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/6292753/Sex-conditions-safer-but-prostitute-stigma-remains
9. At present it is often legal to purchase sex. Do you feel criminalising the purchase of sex could make a contribution to tackling demand? Please answer 'Yes' or 'No', and outline reasons for your response and what other measures would be required.
I think the answer is yes. Many men, certainly initially would be put off paying for sex if it became criminalised. However, I feel there would be ways around it. Prostitution won’t go away, it’ll be driven underground and draw out the criminal element of this world making it harder and more dangerous for both clients and providers.
However, I’m not simply answering ‘YES’ because next thing we’ll know is newspaper articles saying ‘89% of people want paying for sex made illegal’ headlines and something for the antis to bang on about, Therefore you answer needs to give a bit more detail. Maybe some personal information?
How I answered
The estimated figure of men who pay for sex in the UK is about 10%, although some surveys have put it at 20%. In 1948 Kinsey stated that 69% of white males had at least one experience with a prostitute.
My instinct says that 69% is closer to the reality, even in the UK today. As an escort with 3.5 years experience I have met a huge number of men from every profession, background, race, nationality, religion and age. They all have different reasons paying for sex. None of them have been to commit violence against me. This indicates that many men do pay for sex and those men are nice, decent polite men. Of course there are abusive men who do pay for sex, but there are also abusive men who play golf or ride bicycles. Banning bikes or golf will not make those men any less abusive. If a man is intent on hurting a women he will find someone to do this to, not necessarily a prostitute.
Why does there need to be any legislation made to decrease the demand for sex? What happens between two consenting individuals is no one else’s business.
What Criminalising paying for sex would do is deter the kind, law abiding clients that all sex workers wish to see. Business would be reduced for many women leaving them financially vulnerable. It could potentially force women to take more risks on whom they see or offer services that they may not be entirely comfortable with. Why should women have to leave a job they enjoy because someone else believes they are not enjoying it?
10. At present a number of laws seek to regulate and restrict prostitution in England and Wales. Do you think altering or removing these laws could make a contribution to tackling demand? Please answer 'Yes' or 'No', and outline reasons for your response and what other measures would be required.
Isn’t this the same as question 9?
I’m wilting now.
How I answered
Please see my response to question 9. I do not believe the issues regarding prostitution that need addressing is tackling demand.
11. There is evidence that a number of people involved in selling sex would like to exit prostitution but find it difficult to do so. What measures (including legal measures) would be most helpful to support those involved in prostitution who wish to exit?
Isn’t this a repeat of question 7? Is this survey trying to trick us?
This ‘evidence’? Not seen any. Are there more women who want to leave prostitution than women who work stacking shelves want to leave that? Wouldn’t we all prefer to leave a job we either hate or at least tolerate to go and do something wildy exciting, fascinating and challenging yet unstressful and with a huge salary? How many people in this country are miserable at work but can’t leave for financial reasons?
For the record, I have days I want to do something different, but I do like it most the time, which frankly can be said for every single job I have ever held.
Of course, the real reason is that this is asked is because a big deal was made about helping women exit prostitution when the Swedish laws were changed.
How I answered
I refer you back to question 7 for my views on this. I would also like to add that if the law changed to criminalise clients, many women would be in a financially worse position due to a decrease in business. Is it realistic to offer them benefits or other financial assistance, training courses, child care for them to work more traditional hours and so on over the many other people who are struggling in this country at the moment? For many women I know (including myself) the biggest barrier to finding alternative employment would actually finding a job I am qualified for that would pay the salary I require to exist on. That and explaining the gap in my CV as well as dealing with what happens when they find out I was outed in a tabloid and had to resign my previous position. The latter being the biggest issue with prostitution, the stigma. I am not sure what laws would realistically change that.
14. Do you have any other comments surrounding the legal settlement on prostitution in the UK?
This is your chance to say anything else that you feel strongly about or that is pertinent to you as an individual.
How I answered
I would like to add that there are many women in prostitution who do it through choice, because they enjoy it and are good at it. Many many people who see prostitutes are decent people and are not abusing the women they see. The law that needs changing is one that would allow women to work together for safety.
What the police need to be able to do is tackle those who are forced into prostitution. If the women out there who are abused and trafficked have not been rescued yet then that is a huge failing and where resources need to be focused. The law that prevents women working together in the same location needs reviewing. If the wellbeing and safety of sex workers is a concern of yours then you have to actually listen to sex workers, find out what would make our already stigmatised jobs safer and focus on those who are forced and abused. This is what those in power should be focused on, not the criminalisation of the innocent.