Thursday, 13 February 2014

A letter to the Belfast Telegraph


I refer to the letter you published from Mr Jim Wells MLA, Any debate on prostitution needs all the facts, Feb 13.

In my evidence to the Justice Committee I spoke of decriminalisation and women being able to work together for safety.

I did not ask that a section of Belfast be set aside for scantily-clad sex workers to dance suggestively in the windows. I did not and I do not advocate for Northern Ireland to adopt the Netherlands model of legalisation, nor is anybody else to my knowledge.

Mr Wells seems determined to avoid discussing the real issues here and instead talk of these 127 murders of sex workers in the Netherlands. He stated to me in my evidence session that these were cases of 127 women murdered in legal brothels and in his letter of Feb 13 he states they were all murdered by clients and pimps.

Given Mr Well’s obsession with this 127 statistic, I’d like to clarify the following:

The statistic relates to 118 murders that occurred between 1985 and 2012 being investigated by a police cold case team in the Netherlands.

9 of the total 127 cases they are investigating are older than 1985.

In 25 of the cases the victims were not sex workers or it is not known if they were sex workers or not.

Most of the sex worker victims were working illegally and outdoors, not indoors.

Many of the murders took place in a domestic setting.

86 of the murders took place before 1st October 2000, i.e. before prostitution was legalised in the Netherlands.

Sex workers want the Justice Committee to consider the safety and welfare of sex workers in Northern Ireland. Mr Wells is instead trying to take this debate off-topic by quoting incorrect statistics about sex worker murders in another country that nobody is recommending Northern Ireland follow.

Laura Lee
International Union of Sex Workers


  1. Notice you haven't commented in the former sex worker who appeared before the committee. Is this because her experiences are much more representative of the realities of prostitution unlike the fairytales you try and push??

    1. Positive or negative experiences are irrelevant, what matters is harm reduction. The point of the Swedish model is to make sex workers lives so dangerous and stigmatized that no "sane" woman will chose sex work. The NZ model doesnt make a moral judgement, it simply makes women safer.
      Perhaps you should ask Moran why she doesnt want women to be safe, given her account of working as a sex worker?

    2. Hi Anon,

      You seem to think that some sex workers having bad experiences is a good reason to enact laws that demonstrably increase the risk and harm to all sex workers.

      Is this what you meant to convey?

  2. For the 89th time, I don't "push" anything. I speak of my own experiences within the sex industry which have been very positive. In a debate as highly emotive as this one there will be strong opinions on both sides. There are some people who suffer within the sex industry, there is no doubt about that and I've never said that isn't the case. But criminalising against them further under the guise of "ending demand" will make that suffering all the greater.

  3. I am a sex worker and my experience is also a positive one - we need to make clear distinctions between those in danger and those living a legal tax paying existence happy in their CHOSEN line of work. The distinction is CHOICE clear and simple.

  4. Jim Wells, you can always rely on him to just make shit up.


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