Thursday, 13 February 2014
A letter to the Belfast Telegraph
I refer to the letter you published from Mr Jim Wells MLA, Any debate on prostitution needs all the facts, Feb 13.
In my evidence to the Justice Committee I spoke of decriminalisation and women being able to work together for safety.
I did not ask that a section of Belfast be set aside for scantily-clad sex workers to dance suggestively in the windows. I did not and I do not advocate for Northern Ireland to adopt the Netherlands model of legalisation, nor is anybody else to my knowledge.
Mr Wells seems determined to avoid discussing the real issues here and instead talk of these 127 murders of sex workers in the Netherlands. He stated to me in my evidence session that these were cases of 127 women murdered in legal brothels and in his letter of Feb 13 he states they were all murdered by clients and pimps.
Given Mr Well’s obsession with this 127 statistic, I’d like to clarify the following:
The statistic relates to 118 murders that occurred between 1985 and 2012 being investigated by a police cold case team in the Netherlands.
9 of the total 127 cases they are investigating are older than 1985.
In 25 of the cases the victims were not sex workers or it is not known if they were sex workers or not.
Most of the sex worker victims were working illegally and outdoors, not indoors.
Many of the murders took place in a domestic setting.
86 of the murders took place before 1st October 2000, i.e. before prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands.
Sex workers want the Justice Committee to consider the safety and welfare of sex workers in Northern Ireland. Mr Wells is instead trying to take this debate off-topic by quoting incorrect statistics about sex worker murders in another country that nobody is recommending Northern Ireland follow.
International Union of Sex Workers