Thursday, December 14, 2006

Statement from the English Collective of Prostitutes on Ipswich Murders.........

When prostitute women are not safe, no woman is safe

Gemma Adams and a woman the police believe to be Tania Nicol, have now both been found tragically murdered in Ipswich. We pass our deepest condolences to their loved ones. A number of women also working as sex workers have gone missing in the area in recent years. In order to save lives and not to repeat the horror of the Yorkshire Ripper, who was allowed to continue killing until 13 women had been murdered, the Suffolk police must not use the criminality imposed on sex workers by the prostitution laws as an excuse to deny women the protection we are all entitled to by law.

We demand:

an immediate temporary amnesty from arrest for prostitute women and clients so that anyone can come forward to give information to this inquiry without fear of criminalisation or harassment; (Previously, women with outstanding arrest warrants either couldn’t contact the police or when they did were arrested. (See Criminalisation: the price women and children pay, English Collective of Prostitutes response to the government’s review of the prostitution laws, December 2004)

an end to street sweeps, arrests and ASBOs against prostitute women and clients which have forced women into darker, more isolated areas making them more vulnerable to rape, violence and even murder. Women working under increased pressure are less able to look out for each other, have less time to check out clients and are forced to take more risks;

a change in police priorities; money and resources being used to prosecute women and clients for consenting sex must be re-directed into vigorously pursuing violent men and protection of all women

following the example of New Zealand, decriminalisation of the prostitution laws, which by criminalising sex workers signal that women’s lives are not worth much. The police and courts don’t protect women and violent men think they can get away with attacks.

Comment: Currently being in NZ I intend to find out more about how the prostitution law reform has worked out, if possible arranging to meet and interview some sex workers via the collective or union. I can say, however, that I was very upset when hearing about the murders back in Britain. Criminalising prostitutes only endangers them further, and I feel nothing but anger, contempt and scorn for those 'feminists' who insist that these women continue to be criminalised, socially stigmatised and marginalised so as to protect the virtue of 'respectable women' like themselves. I can see through their rhetoric. But they quite happily scream 'my body, my life' when abortion is the issue at stake, not seeing the contradiction and the irony. I'm kind of glad I'm not in the UK right now.

A feminist once remarked to me that her opposition to prostition stemmed not from the effect the work has on individual prostitutes but rather from the way that the sex trade implies that ALL women's bodies are commodities. Clearly she has a lot to learn. All women, yep, respectable ladies too, have used sexuality as a bargaining chip. Respectable bourgeois women have used this bargain for marriage and security. The prostitute is a thorn in the side of the bourgeois feminist as she directly asks for money, thus exposing how fragile the mythical virginity and purity of the middle class lady actually is. All the prostitute is doing is exposing a truism about sexual relations and the organisation of society, she is not creating it.
She is simply being explicit about it, and renting her sexual services rather than selling them for life (as is the case with many bourgeois marriages). The middle class feminists who support criminalising prostitutes are in fact supporting the status quo.

I'll also add that I mean no disrespect to those sensible feminists who see through the good woman/bad woman myth and realise the harm caused by the prostitution laws, and the hypocrisy behind them. Meanwhile I hope this bastard gets caught soon so he kills no more.

Meanwhile, vulnerable women with addictions and deep emotional problems (who do make up a large number of streetwalkers) could be greatly helped by at least being given heroin on prescription (ideally an all out end to prohibition will be best but that does not seem likely in the near future). And there should be more access to psychotherapy and counselling on the NHS. The mental health system in the UK is a shambles.


Gracchi said...

I'll be intrigued at what you find out. Mental health is a scandal forgot who it was but one leading economist recently did the cost of providing more people with CBT and found it was basically zero because of the gains in work etc. Interesting post.

Liz said...

Hi Gracchi,

I'm looking forward myself to finding out how the law reform has worked here!

CBT - I tend to be a little sceptical about it as it tends to be promoted as a miracle cure, it makes too many claims. Not saying it doesn't work for some people (I'm sure it does) but I'm more inclined to feel that it is better for some people and some conditions than for others, who may benefit more from traditional psychotherapy.
I think emotional issues that are deep and stem from childhood may not always be dealt with thoroughly by CBT.