Last week, in a ground-breaking win, the UK High Court ruled that forcing sex trade survivors to reveal past convictions was unlawful.
The ruling was handed down after a claim brought by three sex trade survivors who argued that the legislative scheme requiring them to disclose their convictions for prostitution discriminates against women and is contrary to the UK’s legal obligations regarding the trafficking of women.
All three of the claimants had been forced into the sex industry as teenagers, and as a result had multiple criminal convictions of soliciting and loitering. Claimant Fiona Broadfoot, who waived anonymity, recalled:
“I met a pimp aged 15 and two weeks later I was thrown into the violent and abusive world of prostitution. Rape became an occupational hazard but I was arrested, charged and criminalised for loitering for the purposes of being a common prostitute. After more than twenty years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse.”
Another survivor reflected on how the criminal convictions had impacted her life:
“It doesn’t matter what it is – trying to help out at my kids’ school or the local brownies’ coffee morning, trying to be a governor or a councillor, applying to education or training or employment – even volunteering in so many fields – with children, with the elderly, in care, with vulnerable people, with youth work, with social work – all need a DBS and then you get treated like some sort of pariah or sex offender! But it’s not fair – I never chose that life and I fought hard to get out of it but I’m always being pulled back to it as though that’s who I am but it’s not who I am.”
While the women forced into prostitution had spent their lives enduring the consequences of being sexually exploited, including the indignity of having to explain their convictions, the men involved were never arrested, Broadfoot pointed out.
“When I was arrested, the police referred to my pimp by his first name. Well, why didn’t they arrest him?” she said.
“Not one of those men who bought and used and abused me – even the ones who knew fine well I was a child when first put on the streets – has ever had to face the consequences of his actions.”
Karen Ingala Smith, the CEO of women’s charity nia, said,
“We feel strongly that these women should never have been convicted in the first place. Prostitution is symptomatic of women’s continued inequality and discrimination and a form of violence against women. These women were exploited and coerced and yet it is their lives, not those of their buyers and pimps, that were blighted with convictions. They should not have had to take up this fight, but they did and it is to the benefit of all those exploited in prostitution”.
Earlier this month, ABC’s Lateline dedicated a segment to exploring Sweden’s solution to prostitution and trafficking. The ‘Nordic model’ criminalises the demand for commercial sexual exploitation, decriminalizes those exploited, and provides exit programs for individuals in prostitution who want to leave the industry.Read more
Over 300 human rights groups across 40 nations calling on Associated Press not to use the term 'sex worker'
"Collective Shout joined human rights organisations and survivors of the global sex trade in calling on Associated Press 'to refrain from using terms like “sex work” and “sex worker” because they legitimise prostitution as a form of “work” and conceal the violent and exploitive nature of the commercial sex trade.'
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MORE THAN 300 HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS AND ANTI-TRAFFICKING ADVOCATES FROM 40 NATIONS URGE ASSOCIATED PRESS TO AVOID TERMINOLOGY THAT LEGITIMIZES PROSTITUTION AS A FORM OF WORK
Gloria Steinem, philanthropists Peter and Jennifer Buffett, the Women’s Media Center and survivors of the sex trade among those who oppose the terms “sex work” and “sex worker”
New York, November 5, 2014 – More than 300 human rights organizations, frontline service providers and advocates such as Sanctuary for Families and the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women, and survivors of the sex trade, are urging the Associated Press (AP) to refrain from using terms like “sex work” and “sex worker” because they legitimize prostitution as a form of “work” and conceal the violent and exploitive nature of the commercial sex trade.
In an open letter to the editor of the AP Stylebook, more than 300 people, including feminist author Gloria Steinem, philanthropists Peter and Jennifer Buffett, the Women’s Media Center, and human rights activists from 40 nations including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Norway, The Philippines, South Africa, Sweden, the United States and Venezuela, asked the AP to adopt alternative vocabulary that reflects the life realities of individuals bought and sold in prostitution.
Studies and testimony of survivors demonstrate that the sex industry is predicated on dehumanization, degradation, and gender violence that cause life-long physical and psychological harm. Between 65 and 96 percent of people in prostitution have been sexually assaulted as children; 60 to 75 percent have been raped by pimps and sex purchasers; and between 70 and 95 percent have been physically assaulted in prostitution.
Vednita Carter, the Founder of the survivor-led organization Breaking Free, added “The term ‘sex work’ was coined by supporters of the sex industry to normalize prostitution and mask the injuries it inflicts on those exploited in it. Prostitution is not ‘sex’ and it is not ‘work.’ It is a harmful practice steeped in gender and economic inequalities that leaves a devastating impact on those of us who were or are ‘in the life.’”
The letter explains that “[t]he chasm between the meaning of the word ‘work’ and the experiences of the average prostituted or trafficked person is too vast to be ignored. The term ‘sex worker’ wrongly suggests that the person in prostitution is the primary actor in the multi-billion dollar sex trade.”
“The term ‘sex worker’ renders invisible and unaccountable the traffickers, pimps, brothel and strip club owners, and the buyers of sex who prey on vulnerable individuals with histories of poverty, homelessness and sexual abuse,” says Autumn Burris, Founder/Director of Survivors for Solutions. “We must look at prostitution as a human rights violation.”
The letter also recommends against the use of the word “prostitute” and suggests alternative language including “person in prostitution,” “prostituted person” or “commercially sexually exploited person.” Instead of “sex work,” the advocates propose “sex industry,” “sex trade,” or “prostitution.” The letter also states that “teen prostitute,” “teen prostitution” and “child sex worker” have no place in responsible journalism and must be replaced by “sex trafficked child.”
The letter was written in response to an invitation from the AP to submit comments for its Stylebook 2015 edition and to an online campaign calling on the AP to adopt the term “sex worker.”
You can find the open letter here.
Every year thousands of women are promised a dance career in Western Europe, instead they are tricked, forced and exploited in the sex industry.
This stunt in Amsterdam's Red Light District was created by Dutch advertising firm Duval Guillaume for anti trafficking group, Stop the Traffik.
Watch the video and see how the onlooking men's faces change at the end. You can find out more about Stop the Traffik here.
The ACT Government is holding an inquiry into prostitution in the Territory. Collective Shout has made a submission to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety. Here it is:
Collective Shout submission in response to the Standing Committee on Justice and Community Safety review of the operation of the Prostitution Act 1992Read more
Reposted from Melinda Tankard Reist's blog, read this and take action
“In a case involving the relentless sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse of a child, the men are protected”
A 12-year-old Tasmanian girl is forced into prostitution by her mother and her mother’s boyfriend, while in the care of community protection workers. They advertise her as “Angela, 18”. She is allegedly used by at least 120 men in an ordeal that last two months and leaves her with a sexually transmitted illness. The mother and boyfriend are jailed. What happens to the men? Nothing.