Tuesday, 30 July 2013

A letter to Alan Shatter

from: Laura Lee
to: alan.shatter@oireachtas.ie
date: 30 July 2013 12:47
subject: Proposed changes to legislation on paid sex

Dear Mr. Shatter,

I am an independent Irish sex worker of some twenty years experience.

I began my career in Ireland and worked all over the country in hotels, flats and massage parlours. I worked in Dublin at the same time as Rachel Moran and can speak to the realities of the industry, both then and now.

The further criminalisation of the sex industry in Ireland is dangerous, I know first hand of the damage the 1993 Act did and I simply can't sit back and watch it happen all over again. I have long considered the implications of such a move on my part, when my own family have asked me to take a step back from Irish politics. I can't, it's too important.

I don't have an agenda, or a book to sell. I'm just passionate about the rights of sex workers and their continued welfare. I ask that we meet, at a time and place of your choosing. I am now Glasgow based and an hour's flight away. It has never been more important to consider the position of those who will be most influenced by any change to the law. I look forward to hearing from you.

Is mise le meas,

Laura Lee

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

It's time for ACTION.

In Scotland we celebrated, as we heard that at long last, Rhoda Grant's attempt to implement the Swedish model had fallen, having not received the cross party support required. Our joy was short lived however, when we learned of the death of Petite Jasmine, brutally murdered by her abusive partner having already lost her children to him. Jasmine was a passionate sex workers' rights activist and a staunch opponent of the Swedish model because she knew first hand the harm it could do.

On Friday, the Swedish Rose Alliance released this statement on Facebook: “Our board member, fierce activist, and friend Petite Jasmine got brutally murdered yesterday (11 July 2013). Several years ago she lost custody of her children as she was considered to be an unfit parent due to being a sex worker. The children were placed with their father regardless of him being abusive towards Jasmine. They told her she didn’t know what was good for her and that she was “romanticizing” prostitution, they said she lacked insight and didn’t realise sex work was a form of self-harm. He threatened and stalked her on numerous occasions. She was never offered any protection. She fought the system through four trials and had finally started seeing her children again. Yesterday the father of her children killed her. She always said, “Even if I can’t get my kids back I will make sure this never happens to any other sex worker.” We will continue her fight. Justice for Jasmine!”

I cried when I learned of Jasmine's death, for many reasons. I thought of how she must have felt in those last remaining terrifying moments of her life, I thought of the feeling of emptiness that she had without her children and I felt her immense frustration when she spoke of the State's failure to support her, all because she was a sex worker. I sobbed as I thought of my love for my daughter when I read this passage from Jasmine's blog -

"After one year and three months finally see her standing in front of me. The feeling when she runs into my arms and hug me, to get sniff her hair immediately becomes soaking wet of my tears, drag your finger along her small nose and chin, stroking her little hand and hold on her tiny body hard in my embrace and kiss her eleven thousand times in the forehead. To finally get to see her in the eye and say seventeen thousand times how missed and loved she is. And never want to let go again, but must. Created by my body when we two have been and we are part of each other forever. The love for my children is indescribable. (And justice system as said joint custody and half the time, where were you when everything was going on?)"

But right now as I write this, something wonderful is happening. Sex workers around the world are taking to the streets to protest. On Friday 19th July, sex workers from twenty three cities on three continents are going to march on the embassies of Sweden and Turkey, because we have also lost a Turkish sex worker, Dora Oezer. We are going to tell them that we have had enough of being treated as second class citizens and that we are tired of the stigma which KILLS.

Would you like to support us ? Here's what you can do. Check this website for details of your local protest and come and join us. Please remember to keep checking the site as the week progresses because more and more sex worker groups are coming on board all the time and new protests are being established.

If you have a Twitter account you can tweet a link to that site to raise awareness and support too, using the hashtags #JusticeForJasmine and #JusticeForDora. Also, on Friday 19th, we aim to get the hashtag #stigmakills trending. So please do what you can and let's get our voices heard. It has never been more important.

LL xx