On Tuesday 31 April, sex workers and our allies held a successful SPEAK OUT at the Eros Fountain, Piccadilly Circus against criminalisation and for labour rights for everyone who works in the sex industry. At 2.30pm, we took over one of the streets, bringing traffic to a standstill at Piccadilly Circus and unveiled a banner which read ‘SEX WORKERS ARE STOPPING THE TRAFFICK’.
Sex workers took direct action to highlight our opposition to the Policing and Crime Bill.
Speakers at the SPEAK OUT included representatives from the x:talk project, English Collective of Prostitutes, Sex Worker Open University, academics and sex worker rights activists from across Europe.
The issue of human trafficking in the sex industry has been used by the Government and those intent on abolishing the sex industry to justify the further criminalisation of the sex industry. The existing criminalisation of sex work effectively excludes workers in the sex industry from the full protection of the law. Increased criminalisation will further exacerbate this exclusion. All trafficked workers, regardless of the industry in which they work, face gross violations of their rights. Women in the sex industry should not be defined by the area in which they work.
“The Policing and Crime Bill will make it less, not more, safe for us to work, whether as strippers, escorts, working girls, maids or models. It is crucial that sex workers speak out about the current climate in the sex industry of fear, raids, deportation and arrests“ said Ava Caradonna from x:talk.
Ava Caradonna continued, “We also want to highlight the hypocrisy of the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith. Purchases from our industry can find their way into her expense claims, while at the same time she has been leading the Government’s attack on the sex industry.”
The Policing and Crime Bill has passed through the committee stage following two readings in the House of Commons. If passed, this Bill will further criminalise people in the sex industry in the UK, whether they work by CHOICE, CIRCUMSTANCE or COERCION. It criminalises clients, increases penalties for soliciting and imposes measures for forced rehabilitation. It is based on a lack of evidence about the sex industry and has been drafted without taking the views of sex workers and their organisations into account.
This event was been called by x:talk in partnership with the Sex Worker Open University and supported by Feminist Fightback.
photo’s from the action are available on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/xtalk_project.
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