Prostitution law: Sex workers speak out

Today, the Home Office unveiled plans to criminalise men who use prostitutes who are “controlled for another person’s gain”.

Now, sex workers have their say.

Douglas Fox, male sex worker and International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) activist:

“It is sad that the government has chosen to ignore the legitimate human rights and aspirations of sex workers and instead has chosen to further criminalise an already criminalised work force. The majority of sex workers choose for very legitimate reasons to work through the agency of others whither that be agencies or brothels.

“Most of the working population choose to work for or through a third party and therefore are controlled for gain. Sex workers are to be denied this basic human right taken as granted by the rest of the population. Clients are to be expected to know the individual circumstances of the sex workers they are meeting, which is impossible.

“Effectively the government are outlawing consensual sex between consenting adults on the premise that it will prevent trafficking and abuse with in the sex industry. Clients and sex worker managements, and of course sex workers themselves, are the very people who are in the best position to inform the authorities of cases of concern and yet illogically these are the very people whom the government is choosing to criminalise.”

Cari Mitchell, spokesperson for the English Collective of Prostitutes:

“The plan is puritanical.

“If they make solicitation illegal and start outing clients, men are going to be more nervous and women will be forced to make hasty decisions to survive economically.

“As Britain and the rest of the world face dire economic circumstances, the government should try to help women rather than make things harder.”

Catherine Healy, national coordinator for New Zealand’s Prostitutes’ Collective:

“I do think it’s extraordinary that the U.K. is considering such a dreadful turn.

“We know from a lot of research … that sex workers in this country are feeling much safer, better protected.”

Ana Lopes, International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW) spokesperson:

“We’re trying to remove the sigma against sex work and sex workers.

“We think that changing the law – decriminalising sex work – is one of the steps towards it and it’s a very important one. The same happened with gay rights, when they removed the laws that actually helped social attitudes to change as well.”