Monday, 10 March 2014
A level playing field
When I became a sex workers' rights campaigner, I knew that when I stuck my head above the parapet there would be consequences. I knew there would be mockery, name calling etc. but that's okay with me. I'm a very strong woman, and when I'm let off the leash I'm fierce too, especially when it comes to the rights of our so often stigmatised group.
I was ready for it all, and boy did I get it in spades. In particular, the Irish abolitionists have been hard work, and they fight dirty. I'll never prove it was them of course, but I now find myself in the middle of a tax investigation which I could really do without on top of studying, working, parenting and campaigning. I'll get through it in time, it's just tedious.
In Ireland, to have a current sex worker prepared to go on camera and talk openly about the realities of the sex trade is as rare as hen's teeth and it is a valuable media platform which must not be wasted, not for a second. By waste, I mean that nothing should stand in my way of getting the most important message across which is that my twenty years of experience are absolutely nothing like what Rachel Moran and The Magdalene Sisters (Ruhama) have been peddling, in order to continue with the sales of her book and of course their continued funding.
In her evidence to the NIA, Moran was asked to comment on my evidence as a woman who said she enjoyed the sex trade, and her response was a lofty - "We call them the pimp's union." In addition, Jim Wells and Co. alleged that I'm funded by pimps and am effectively a front for pimps, all of which is absolutely untrue.
I came to the conclusion that in order to be an effective spokesperson for sex workers, I need to stand on my own two feet and speak from my life experience without abolitionists screaming - "PIMP LOBBY", every time I open my mouth. You see, I don't mind if they shout and bawl at me, truth be known I enjoy a robust "debate". But when a constant stream of hate is propelled my way because of the actions of others, that's not fair. And since I appeared at the NIA it has been absolutely vile, with comments about my daughter "coming of age" and one man who speculated whether I had a special uncle who liked to play games in the wendy house with me - I wish I was joking. This, (he said) is the only reason he could see why I "hang out with pimps".
That was the last straw.
For those reasons I have decided to step back from the IUSW, my health and welfare and that of my daughter come before anything else. Always have, and always will. Rest assured, I'm not going anywhere, I will campaign for sex workers' rights until the day they put a tag on my toe (wonderful expression). In fact, later this month it looks like I'm off to Westminster and of course the Labour Party Women's Conference is coming up too.
All I ever needed was a level playing field, because justice and truth have always been on my side.