Home Office anti-prostitution proposals flawed and dangerous
Of particular concern,
As well as making life more dangerous for street prostitutes, the Home Secretary’s proposals will give the police greater powers to raid brothels and flats where sex workers operate. This move is particularly astounding, given the fact that the police are currently allowed to keep a quarter of the money used in such raids – even if that money represents a woman’s life savings. The risk of diverting police attention to pursuing the most profitable rather than the most exploitative sex work establishments has not been lost on the Home Secretary, who simply declared: ‘we will take their bling away from them.’
‘There have been scenes of police arriving at 5am in full riot gear and dragging women out into the street in their underwear,’ said Dr Brooks-Gordon. ‘As a feminist, I find it very hard to see how that promotes women’s rights.’
A bit like burning the village in order to save it – seems to be de rigeur at the Home Office.
The aim of the changes, according to a Home Office memo, is ‘to send a clear message that the Government will protect the vulnerable.’ However, many groups, including coalitions of sex workers, have raised concerns that the implementation of such legislation will actually increase the dangers for trafficked women and migrant workers in the sex trade, whose lack of papers will leave them even more vulnerable to abuses within underground prostitution rings.
If Jacqui Smith and her cronies really care about protecting society’s most vulnerable workers, they wouldn’t be focusing on ‘taking their bling away’ but on putting schemes in place to help prostitutes clean up and clear out, or to make their work safer, if that’s what’s needed.
But they don’t really care about protecting the vulnerable – what they really care about is political expediency: what will help them retain power at election time. That is the basis for many of their policies.
I wonder when the Government will finally listen to the “experts, people who actually do this work”, rather than doing what is politically expedient?