Monday, 27 September 2010
The International Union of Sex Workers
Monday 27th September 2010
“It’s time to accept prostitution” – say the British public.
A survey carried out as part of yesterday’s BBC1 Sunday Morning Live discussion, featuring Catherine Stephens of the IUSW, Bel Mooney of the Daily Mail and Mehdi Husan of the New Statesman showed overwhelming public support for accepting prostitution:
71% yes, 29% no.
This echoes a government funded Ipsos MORI poll in June 2008: almost six in ten (59%) agreed that "prostitution is a perfectly reasonable choice that women should be free to make". 
In the Sunday Morning Live debate, Stephens repeatedly argued that policy that solves problems is based on evidence and in reality, not on ideology, dramatic individual cases and stereotypes.
Stigmatisation of sex workers plays a large part in violence and trafficking.
Clients are not the problem: evidence shows that the majority of robbery, abuse and physical or sexual violence experienced by sex workers comes from those who do not pay for sex.  Many assailants express hatred of sex workers and appear to feel their actions are legitimated by the social attitudes of abhorrence for commercial sex.
More than a third of victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation report that fear of being exposed as a sex worker played a part in the coercion they experienced. 
In a study of nearly 500 sex workers, researching issues of power, exploitation and control, 1 in 4 women said that they had, at some point, felt physically threatened. More - 30% - had experienced "other threats “…in almost all cases, [this] was the threat of being publicly exposed as a sex worker.” 
Catherine Stephens, a sex worker for 10 years and an activist with the International Union of Sex Workers says, “It’s time to start treating women with respect and equality, regardless of their sexual behaviour. It’s time to give people in the sex industry the same human rights as other citizens, so we can work together for safety, and call the police without fear of arrest. It’s time to decriminalise prostitution.”
 Violence and Sex Work in Britain, Hilary Kinnell, Willan Publishing, 2008
Globalisation of Crime: A transnational organised crime threat assessment, UNODC, 2010
 Beyond gender: an examination of exploitation in sex work, Suzanne Jenkins, Keele University, 2009
See Sunday Morning Live Sunday 26th September 2010
Friday, 17 September 2010
Greetings from Inverness where I have landed having deftly avoided the Pope and his entourage, I hope he'll find it in his heart to forgive me when I throttle the drunk piper directly under my window.
I'm trying to catch up on - well everything really, because I have been very busy, the scaletrix of escorts this past while. I've been up and down the M8 "like a bride's nightie",( one of my Nan's fave expressions ). I'm not complaining mind, especially on foot of my outcall the other night to a tall handsome doctor, oh yes. True job satisfaction, the beauty of doctors is they know what a clitoris is and further, they're aware that sinking their teeth is not going to induce a state of arousal, more aggression than anything else.
Speaking of aggression, what is WRONG with some people ? I'm aware that when I'm working hard and am tired I can get narky, who doesn't ? I've never seen the need for outright rudeness, however.
"Big Issue ?"
"No thanks mate."
"Well fuck you then."
Je-sus. How to make friends and influence people, NOT. In stark contrast to that pillar of society outside my local supermarket, this week I began doing an interview with an Edinburgh based newspaper, which is a work in progress and will probably be out in a couple of weeks. That's all I'm allowed say for now because believe it or not, apparently journalists steal ideas and stories from one and other. Gawd, you live and learn.
Speaking of journalists, I watched "Gail Porter investigates prostitution" with huge interest. All credit to the presenter, she went into the project with a very open mind and was prepared to consider any and all angles, at least that's the way it came across. Once again the focus moved to trafficking, where the police raided a flat to find one lady of 51 who was working quite legally. What interested me more was the attitude of the police after the lady had been removed from the property.
The officer concerned was very quick to point out that in his opinion, no woman would ever choose to be a prostitute. Au contraire, I can assure you I made an informed decision to become a prostitute and have never regretted it.
I was interested in what Ms. Porter went on to say too -
"Most of the women seemed very strong, or at least they tried to be strong."
I think for the most part you do need to be a strong woman, unfortunately in the not too distant past I have witnessed a couple of ladies go into mental breakdown / burnout and it's frightening to watch the speed of their demise. It's precisely for this reason that I feel decriminalisation would be beneficial. Sex workers should feel able to come forward and ask for support services in the same manner as any job which is personally demanding. Unfortunately, I think stigma and fear of publicity holds some back, which is very wrong.
In the end, Ms. Porter said -
"I'm no expert, but I do believe we should be making changes to the law to make it safer for women.
In the UK, it is illegal for two women to work together in a brothel*. To me, this is completely ridiculous, as it forces women to go out on their own, which is more dangerous. As if the job isn't perilous enough.
They should be able to work together and have the same working rights as everyone else. I also believe criminalising women is wrong - it doesn't help anyone.
In New Zealand, the whole system is decriminalised. There, women can work together in brothels and they are protected.
Prostitution has been around for a long time, and no doubt it will continue, so we need to protect these women and do everything we can to make a terrible situation a bit more safe."
I'm off to Carlisle next week and will catch up with you there.
* Not strictly speaking true, it is not illegal for two women to work together in a brothel, a prostitute cannot be charged with any offence related to prostitution just because she is working in a brothel. What is illegal is owning/running/managing etc. the brothel wherein the prostitutes work. ( Thank you to Punternet for that. )
Thursday, 16 September 2010
To err is human. To consistently feck it up is an art form.
It is the above thought that consoled me as myself, Faye and Susan trudged around Belfast with our suitcases, effectively homeless, thanks to moi. ( To be fair, it wasn't ALL my fault. Well, not really. )
There are two apartment buildings in Belfast with the same name, see ? So we all booked the same place, labouring under the illusion that we would be in a high rise anonymous block, where you could potentially have a large scale gang bang and no-one would notice. Err, no. We got out of the taxi and noted with dismay what can only be described as a boarding house. ( Think 1970's Brighton sea-front, complete with lace doilies and rubber yucca plants.) The gentleman who ran the house had an office approximately 10 yards from the door to what was to be my room and he had the door ajar too, noisily slurping soup. Whoops.
We made panicked gestures to each other in the hallway, you know, the one that mimics a beheading. My phone was going like HMRC's overpayment helpline, buzzing away whilst on silent in my handbag, so I had an idea.
"Err, Susan, that was your Mum I just missed on my phone there, I hope she's not trying to get you URGENTLY."
Now I knew that Susan in her murky past had taken some acting lessons, but I was in no way prepared for the performance to come. She turned her back on all of us and "made a call". ( I was praying to anyone who would listen that it wouldn't ring in her ear. )
With that she swung around with the dramatic style of a Jane Austen understudy and burst into tears. ( I don't mean in any small way either, we're talking sobbing. )
"I'm soooo sorry".... (sniff, choke) .... "I've just had a call and" ....(wail, consoling pat on the back from Faye ) .... "I have no choice ".... ( loses all control at this point as her body is racked with sobs ) ...
... "WE HAVE TO GO BACK TO GLASGOW." ( hurls herself at the wall and howls )
Faye and I did the decent thing and clucked around her making soothing noises and rubbing her back whilst she howled and blew her nose noisily.
Needless to say, afore mentioned landlord abandoned his soup and with some soft words to soothe us, sent us on our way. He even called us a taxi. We made it as far as the kerbside to wait for the taxi before the three of us disintegrated into fits of crotch-grabbing giggles. The girl had done us proud. :)
Eventually we found another hotel and had a brilliant tour, ( thank goodness because I think the girls were ready to dangle me from the balcony by my ankles. )
I finally had the chance to meet a lady I have been chatting to online for years now, Violette, it was a pleasure. ( I did try and defend Irish men and their apparent allergy to showers and baths but some things are just indefensible. )
Sunday, 5 September 2010
( Apologies in advance for this first part, I think I should leave erotic writings to Marc Nobbs, he does a far better job than yours truly, ahem. )
I lay back with a steely determination and exhaled deeply, this was going to require every inch of my fortitude. A tiny bead of sweat which had begun life on my forehead hurried down my face in a frenzied race towards the delicious dip between my breasts, pooling there and rising and falling with my rapid breaths. With an animalistic cry, I raised my hips in expectation, awaiting the pain and the endorphins of pleasure that would surely accompany my efforts, making my whole body quiver and shake with anticipation. I tried to ignore the screaming that was emitting from my muscles until I could bear it no longer and exclaimed ...
"YOU SAID IT WAS 30 FECKIN' KILOGRAMMES !!"
Yes, I'm back in the gym.
You'd think, wouldn't you, that when they insist on a 45 minute "assessment" where they take you around the various complicated items of machinery and devise your program, that they could spare a further five minutes to point out the rather large step between the cardio area and the free weights section. For as much as they seek to protect your welfare by ensuring your safety on the machinery, the latter piece of information would have prevented me going flat on my face in front of various muscle men who really should spend more time exercising and less time checking out the new chubby chick in the mirror. MORTIFIED.
( As an aside, I have never been able to comprehend how anyone could possibly meet a potential partner at the gym, the "no make up and ribena berry" look is never going to be a good basis for any form of sexual attraction.)
Anyway, Spain was fantastic and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We rented a car and with me driving we crossed the Pyrenees into France. That was a challenge, it was a very small and windy road, up the mountains and back down again and required acute concentration whilst Mr F did the navigation. It's bad enough that they drive on the wrong side of the road, but the fast lane is on the wrong side too, and to add insult to injury they go the wrong way around roundabouts. Ye Gods !!
We made it without serious injury or summons apart from when Mr F took over driving for 5 minutes and launched us into someone else's wing mirror, I was going to take the proverbial for quite a while for that. However, when you consider that halfway up the ( very steep ) mountain, after a brief stop at a monastery, I put the car into reverse instead of into first and almost reversed us into the Medditeranean, I decided to shut it. ( The picture above is the view from the monastery, very beautiful. )
On a more serious note, since I came back, I watched the two parts of - "The Hunt for Britain's Sex Traffickers". I was very interested to see the forces that be in action, how they went about investigating alleged trafficked women and how the process of justice was applied.
It was presented as if it had been filmed by and for radical feminists, the overall impression was that the 67 "traffickers" apprehended were just the tip of the iceberg, with the final quote being - "If this is happening in Cornwall, where else is it happening ?" ( not an exact quote, and let's just gloss over the fact that in two years, not one successful prosecution was brought about as a direct result of Pentameter 2, shall we ? )
My problem with the program overall is twofold -
1. It was fantastic that "Lily" was rescued and the people who brought about her misery locked up. I can only hope that she starts to rebuild her life and her confidence and that those who caused her so much pain get their real "justice" whilst locked up.
Lily's freedom was not brought about by Pentameter 2 however, nor was it through tireless Police investigation. Lily was saved by a client, who blew the whistle when he sensed she was unhappy and there against her will. No-one felt the need to point that out whilst they were jetting half way around the world to have a conference with foreign police which could have been done over the phone.
2. Mr and Mrs. Middle England will have viewed that program with open mouthed horror and should any decision ever have to be made in the near future about the continuing legality of ANY forms of prostitution, there will be no prizes for guessing which way their vote will go.
But, it will be a mis-informed vote. Where are the programs that show the positive side of prostitution, the women that make a conscious decision to enter the sex industry and in fact, celebrate their right to make that choice ? The program will create a moral panic and outrage, to further entrench in the minds of the general public that the current approach is correct, and getting results. It isn't. It's not.
In my opinion, the solution is to legalise sex work in all of it's forms, to allow brothels to operate, where regular police inspections can be done on an ad hoc basis, and without warning. (It is accepted that there will be illegal brothels, but they have to advertise and the full force of the law should be applied to underground activity which seeks to circumvent stipulated regulations.) In legalising brothels, channels of communication can be opened up between the authorities and the only other members of society who may ever come into contact with those women who have been trafficked, the clients. It's clear from "Lily's" case that what WILL work is a situation where a client can feel comfortable in approaching the police with information which may lead to the arrest and conviction of the scum who traffick sex workers.