Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Sex Workers and Statistics

I thought I'd draw your attention to the excellent article that's been published in The Guardian by Nick Davies. The link is below :


In the article he seeks to examine the "tide of misinformation" that there is around trafficking in the UK. The first major hurdle is in the interpretation of the word "trafficking". Because the word can apply to sex workers moving across borders quite willingly to seek better paid employment, there is no doubt this colours the "figures", such as they are.

But what is really shocking is the way those "figures" have been plucked from obscurity and paraded by politicians and press seeking to satisfy their own agenda.

"Fiona Mactaggart, a former Home Office minister, in January 2008 outstripped MacShane's estimates, telling the House of Commons that she regarded all women prostitutes as the victims of trafficking, since their route into sex work "almost always involves coercion, enforced addiction to drugs and violence from their pimps or traffickers." There is no known research into UK prostitution which supports this claim.

In November 2008, Mactaggart repeated a version of the same claim when she told BBC Radio 4's Today in Parliament that "something like 80% of women in prostitution are controlled by their drug dealer, their pimp, or their trafficker." Again, there is no known source for this."

That level of ignorance around the realities of trafficking is simply staggering.
The part I really liked was the acknowledgement at the end of his article that we as working women have been voicing our concerns and have been completely ignored :

"However, the key point is that on the sidelines of a debate which has been dominated by ideology, a chorus of alarm from the prostitutes themselves is singing out virtually unheard. In the cause of protecting "thousands" of victims of trafficking, Harriet Harman, the deputy Labour leader and minister for women and equality, has led the parliamentary campaign for a law to penalise men who pay for sex with women who are "controlled for gain" even if the men do so in genuine ignorance.

Repeatedly, prostitutes groups have argued that the proposal is as wrong as the trafficking estimates on which it is based, and that it will aggravate every form of jeopardy which they face in their work, whether by encouraging them to work alone in an attempt to show that they are free of control or by pressurising them to have sex without condoms to hold on to worried customers. Thus far, their voices remain largely ignored by news media and politicians who, once more, have been swept away on a tide of misinformation."

Isn't it time that they realised the methods ( such as they are ) that they are using to collect their information are deeply flawed, as is their whole approach to prostitution ? As a result of their efforts are more traffickers being caught and sentenced ? No. Is it enhancing the political stance of the politicians involved ? No, because in continuing to get it wrong time and time again, how much confidence can the man in the street have in their abilities as potential leaders ?

Since The Guardian is the home of Ms Bindel, it will be interesting to see her response. No doubt she'll inform Mr Davies that he is the head of a pimp's charter. It suits the likes of Bindel and Harman to claim that the only reason we shout about the "statistics" is because we don't want them to pass any prohibitory laws. To a certain extent that's correct, but not for the reasons they would have you believe.

We as long standing members of the escort community really do care for the welfare of our fellow sex workers and wish to see every measure in place to protect them. I would suggest that if they want to collate accurate information about the level of trafficking that occurs then they should leave everything exactly as it is, because the evidence is right under their noses. The ads are there in The Daily Sport for all to see, and can be investigated together with all of the other forms of advertising such as the internet, cards in phone boxes etc.

If they push the laws through, then the industry will be driven underground and it will be so much harder to reach the women who so desperately need help. In real terms, the traffickers will just need to more inventive in their sourcing of clients.

Some day, ( and hopefully before I retire ) common sense will prevail over sensationalism.

LL x

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