NH ACTION ALERT: Study Of Sex Work Decriminalization Models

YOU CAN HELP STOP THE VIOLENCE BY SUPPORTING SEX WORKER FRIENDLY SERVICES. First meeting of Subcommittee is September 5: We are in touch with Elizabeth Edwards, one of the sponsors of HB 287.  The first meeting of this Subcommittee is September 5.  The committee hearing is open to anyone to attend. Campaigners for decriminalization including Bella Robinson of COYOTE/Rhode Island will be attending. Melanie Dante, a Pennsylvania advocate for sex workers and survivors, and Eris Vayle, both known well for the Philadelphia December 17th effort to de-escalate gender based violence, will also attend.  CRIMINALIZATION & STIGMA CONTRIBUTE TO FACTORS KILLING SEX WORKERS

SWOP Behind Bars Will Be At “Beyond The Walls”

Through panels, presentations, and interactive workshops, the Summit explores innovative approaches to the health and reentry challenges facing our communities, brings relevant policy issues to the forefront, and provides attendees with the opportunity to become involved in local and national advocacy work. With a focus on community led responses to the crisis in the criminal justice system, workshops reflect the needs of prisoners and former prisoners and will highlight the work being done to improve conditions inside the prison walls and in the communities to which prisoners are returning. Registration Required for 6/28/2017

Andrew Boff, Conservative Member of the London Assembly on The Merseyside Model

The Merseyside Model–Why Crimes Against Prostitutes Are Hate Crimes. In the Booth with Ruth Re/Post of the March 13, 2013 Andrew Boff Discussion with Ruth Jacobs | When prostitutes are made to disappear, most of society does not care, and most of the cases remain unsolved. Women in prostitution suffer higher rates of murder (the mortality rate for women in prostitution in London is 12 times the national average —according to Home Office, a UK government agency that deals with crime and policing), higher rates of rape (more than half have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted in the UK), and higher rates of physical violence (at least three-quarters have been physically assaulted). But in 2006, Merseyside police declared crimes against sex workers hate crimes. The results are so astounding I cried reading them. In Liverpool, in 2009, police convicted 90 percent of those who raped sex workers. In 2010, the overall conviction rate in Merseyside for crimes against sex workers was 84 percent, with a 67 percent conviction rate for rape. The national average conviction rate for rape is 6.5 percent. Over the years, I’ve seen my friends in prostitution who have been raped, battered and robbed receive poor treatment from the police when they have reported these crimes, though mostly they did not. They did not report to the police crimes committed against them because they had been, or knew others who had been, treated like a criminal and charged with something related to prostitution, dismissed, and sadly there were some who were sexually exploited further. These are some of the reasons why most crimes against women in prostitution are not reported. But not so in Merseyside. In Merseyside, crimes against people in prostitution are being reported, the victims are being treated like victims and not criminals, and the perpetrators are being convicted. After speaking with an exited woman about what needs to change for those in the sex trade,Fiona MacTaggart MP demonstrated her interest to protect those in prostitution: Having been a victim of rape more than once, I have seen how poorly this is handled by police. I know what it feels like not to get justice and to live with the knowledge the men who have raped me have been allowed by the system to continue to rape other women. The stigma attached to prostitution perpetuates victim-blaming. Much of society does not care for women in prostitution; they judge them, look down on them, and by some, they are deemed “unrapable.” My heart has broken listening to my friends tell me how it was their fault they were raped because they went to the hotel, got in the car, let the punter in their flat; there was no point in going to the police when they were to blame in the first place. Some of my friends did not recognize times they were raped until they had exited prostitution: they had frozen, unable to move or struggle; too scared to speak; and others because they’d ‘agreed’ to sexual acts due to fear of violence. This is rape. It is never the victim’s fault. There is never a reason or excuse to rape. There is no class of women who are “unrapable”. There are no women who deserve this. The Merseyside model of making crimes against sex workers hate crimes allows the victim to feel safe in reporting the crime to the police. It also goes some way to reduce the stigma suffered by people in prostitution, which in turn will play a part in allowing them to realize when they have been the victim of rape, and to know that it is never, never, never their fault. Mainly through lack of knowledge, most people do not understand women in prostitution. For anyone who would like to understand these women better, I urge you to read Voices of Prostitution Survivors freely here, or In Her Own Words.  Interview with a London Call Girl, my charity publication, which you can get here for Kindle.  This will give you insight into the emotional, psychological and social issues affecting women in prostitution. [Bloggers Note: This site supports the New Zealand Model]  There are some wonderful people fighting for the Nordic model (which criminalizes buying sex but not selling it), like many of those I interviewed for Human Trafficking Awareness Month. There are also those fighting against it. But one thing people from these opposing groups agree on, if their stance stems from care and not moral judgement or profiteering, is that the safety of women in prostitution is of paramount importance. Whether there is a Nordic model or not, we still need the Merseyside model. As a human rights issue, a series of interviews will be published here over the coming weeks that will discuss the need for this model to be implemented nationally. With the permission of the interviewees, some of these interviews will be republished on other blogs from current affairs through to sex worker blogs, and we hope this issue achieves coverage in the national press. Right now, in the UK, it seems the safest place for those in prostitution is Merseyside. We need to make the rest of the UK equally as safe for this group of people who are the most vulnerable and at the greatest risk. Myself and [Diary of a Virgin Whore blogger] Kalika Golddisagree on other issues, but we are putting those differences aside to focus on this most serious issue—keeping women, men and transgender people in prostitution safe. On this, we wholeheartedly agree. Kalika will be creating a new blog on which a petition can be signed to make all crimes against sex workers hate crimes throughout the UK. If this is made law here, other countries will need to pay attention. Below is an example of how in practice this policy works:

 Sex worker Linda from Anfield was raped twice at knife-point in a terrifying attack carried out in 2007. She fell into sex work despite a private education and supportive family. She said: “The night I was raped I approached a man and asked him if he wanted to do business. “I took him to a piece of waste land we used and we agreed on a price but when we got there he pulled a knife and told me he’d do what he wanted. “He raped me and then told me to stay there and count to 10 while he walked off. “I didn’t for some reason and followed him. I was about three or four steps behind whispering on the phone to the police.” She was immediately taken seriously and as the case was put together she was referred to the Armistead Centre, who, through the Ugly Mugs scheme, warned other sex workers about him.She said: “No-one asked any questions that weren’t relevant to the crime. Normally they ask about drug dealers and where you go to score.” At court she gave evidence behind a screen but she had to go through a retrial after the first jury failed to reach a verdict. Her attacker was convicted and given an indeterminate sentence. Linda has now quit the sex industry, has her own home and now a new baby. 

Silence on Violence: Boff recommends all violence against sex workers be defined as hate crimes.
Silence on Violence: Boff recommends all violence against sex workers be defined as hate crimes.

In a report commissioned by Boris Johnson, the London mayor, Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London. Assembly, recommends all crimes against sex workers should be treated as hate crimes.  Boff, author of the report Silence on Violence is quoted as saying: Crimes against people in prostitution are not only hate crimes when they occur in Merseyside, they are hate crimes wherever they occur.

Read the 67 page Silence on Violence report 

INTERVIEW:  In the Booth with Ruth!

From your research of the Metropolitan Police, can you tell me how they are dealing with crimes committed against people in prostitution/sex workers? 
Some police, and indeed some boroughs and units in the MPS, are doing a great job. However unfortunately, it takes just one bad officer to disproportionately damage relations between sex workers and police.

What concerns were raised in your report?

One of the concerns in my report, Silence on Violence, was that there was consistent evidence that police had been proactively raiding sex establishments without complaints or significant intelligence that exploitation was taking place.

Can you explain how this affects people in prostitution/sex workers when a crime is committed against them?

NHS projects had noted that ‘brothel’ raids and visits had led to the displacement of sex workers away from their support networks, which led to their lives and health being at increasing risk. There is another concern – that when police resources are stretched, should police be visiting establishments advertised in phone boxes, using seven officers a time?

How do you believe people in prostitution/sex workers are treated by the police? And do they report crimes committed against them?

Some sex workers in London feel that when they report crimes, police focus on their crimes related to sex work – such as having a ‘brothel’ – over the crimes they originally reported against them. I have seen several cases like this in London. As a result of this belief in the sex industry, sex workers have told me they feel that they cannot safely report crime to the police.

The service providers I spoke to, who work with sex workers, all said that they had noticed a decline in the number of sex workers reporting crimes to police. Furthermore, some sex workers have felt that the police have not treated them with dignity and respect when they have come into contact with the law. Indeed, I know of a recent case like this – where a sex worker’s earnings were, I believe, unfairly seized – where a sex worker reported to me that the police treatment she experienced was “degrading and humiliating”.

What are your thoughts on the Merseyside model? Should it be adopted by the Metropolitan Police Force? 

The best policing model I found to tackle this lack of reporting was in Merseyside. This included labelling attacks against sex workers as hate crimes as a way of acknowledging that they were a minority who were disproportionately targeted by criminals. I recommended, in Silence on Violence, that London should follow Merseyside’s successful example and label crimes against sex workers as ‘hate crimes’

Philly Needs Mercy: The Merseyside (Hate Crimes) Model -
Philly Needs Mercy: The Merseyside (Hate Crimes) Model – “When prostitutes are made to disappear, most of society does not care, and most of the cases remain unsolved. Women in prostitution suffer higher rates of murder”.

2011 Change dot org Petition / Letter to:

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party Theresa May MP

House of Commons Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP

Make the Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution law UK wide. No other forces have adopted the approach despite it being recommended in the 2011 Chief Police Officers’ Strategy & Supporting Operational Guidance for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation. The current laws make people in the sex trade, most often in poverty and many single mothers, ‘easy targets’ for criminals.

We know you are working towards making our society safer with the recent review you instigated of the way police investigate domestic violence and with your introduction of the new law to fight human trafficking.
Declaring crimes committed against people in prostitution as hate crimes affects sex trafficking victims and sex workers, and by dramatically increasing convictions of rapists, murderers and other violent criminals, society as a whole is made safer.
You recently said, “We have a duty to provide vulnerable people with the best possible protection.” We recommend you back this up with immediate action to protect the most vulnerable in our society to rape, other violence and murder.

Ruth Jacobs

andrew-boffFrom your research of the Metropolitan Police, can you tell me how they are dealing with crimes committed against people in prostitution/sex workers? 

Some police, and indeed some boroughs and units in the MPS, are doing a great job. However unfortunately, it takes just one bad officer to disproportionately damage relations between sex workers and police.

What concerns were raised in your report?

One of the concerns in my report, Silence on Violence, was that there was consistent evidence that police had been proactively raiding sex establishments without complaints or significant intelligence that exploitation was taking place.

Can you explain how this affects people in prostitution/sex workers when a crime is committed against them?

NHS projects had noted that ‘brothel’ raids and visits had led to the displacement of sex workers away from their support networks, which led to their lives and health being at increasing risk. There is another concern – that when police…

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2016 Sex Work Year in Review 2016

A Pa prostitute details stepping back into the industry amidst unexpectedly intense and changing legal and legislative crossfire. Her Year in Review explores the issues of being a victim/Survivor/WORKER.

2016 D17 Philadelphia: International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

The International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers has been recognized since 2003 and various memorial events have been held in Philadelphia since 2012. This is the first time a formal event is being held at City Hall, in direct response to ongoing attacks in Kensington, and the fact that a violent predator is still on the loose. Organizers M. Dante and Eris Vayle commented: “Brutal attacks and murders should not be synonymous with sex work. We hope to help deescalate the violence here in Philadelphia, and all of Pennsylvania. Our collective hopes to shed light and love to remind our community that justice for sex workers is a human rights issue. The violence dehumanizes us all, not just those who are the immediate victims.”