Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Home Secretary David Blunkett Proposes Plans for Licensed Brothels and Compulsory Health Checks for Prostitutes. Cari Mitchell, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, Gives Her Verdict; IN THE HOT SEAT Londonjobs

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Home Secretary David Blunkett Proposes Plans for Licensed Brothels and Compulsory Health Checks for Prostitutes. Cari Mitchell, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, Gives Her Verdict; IN THE HOT SEAT Londonjobs

Article excerpt

Q Wouldn't the decriminalisation of prostitution give an acceptable face for what is a wholly unacceptable activity?

A Paying for sex isn't unacceptable - men have done it for thousands of years.

But keeping prostitution criminalised is unacceptable.

It keeps women vulnerable and powerless. Prostitutes face daily discrimination from police, who rarely pursue complaints of sexual assault or rape.

Under loitering and soliciting laws, a woman can be convicted on the word of a policeman. Magistrates automatically rubberstamp Antisocial Behaviour Orders, which, if contravened, lead to a custodial sentence, in which a woman is sent to prison and her children taken into care.

Many children taken into care end up on the game.

If decriminalised, sex workers would be respected and recognised in the eyes of the law. Issues such as assault and rape, would be taken seriously. They'd be able to work discreetly from their own premises with established networks to help them screen out violent men.

Q Having prostitution legalised and regulated can't be good news for your members, can it - you'd all have to pay tax on your earnings?

A Our main objection to legalisation isn't tax - many prostitutes already pay - but with licensing specific brothels and official "red light zones". No woman wants to work in an official red-light area: you'd get put on a police register and your chances of getting a job outside the sex industry are virtually zero.

Police aren't interested in protecting sex workers from violence and harassment - they positively turn a blind eye. This policy would force more women underground, outside official zones, where they are even more vulnerable to violence and exploitation.

Official red-light zones don't destigmatise prostitution.

They are an excuse not to decriminalise the industry.

Q How much do prostitutes earn?

A Few women earn thousands of pounds per day. …

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