Monday, 3 October 2011

"Change Law On Prostitution To Protect Women" - Cllr Brooks-Gordon


Cambridgeshire County Councillor, Belinda Brooks-Gordon has called on the government to change the law on prostitution for groups of women working together as protection from violence.
 
She spoke out at the Liberal Democrat Autumn Conference in Birmingham saying it is vital the police target resources in the right direction to catch violent men rather than prosecuting working women.
 
Cllr Brooks-Gordon supported the motion Tackling Violence Against Women put to conference by MP Tom Brake and Baroness Sally Hamwee, Co-chairs of the Home Affairs, Justice and Equalities Committee.
 
But she said that although the motion mentioned prostitution, it did not deal with it fully.
 
She wants to see the law changed so that two or three adult women who choose to work together in the sex industry for mutual protection cannot be prosecuted. And violence against sex workers should be treated as a hate crime, she said.
 
She added that the last Labour government acknowledged that women working together for safety should be allowed and the Home Office accepted that “women should not sell sex alone”.
 
But the government then reversed its position despite evidence and expert opinion, she said.
 
“The harm reduction evidence is overwhelming from academic research,” she said. “But the last government relied on flawed studies from organisations with vested interests, for example on trafficking.
 
“The financial savings of this safety measure would be significant. Assets recovery was a political motivation for the last government not affording women this safety in legislation. The Home Office stated that asset recovery would raise revenue with which to fund other harm reduction policies. But that didn’t happen.” 
 
Cllr Brooks-Gordon added that, by contrast, the tax law recognises self-employed women in the sex industry. High Court judgements in VAT cases recognise that workers in escort agencies and lap dancing clubs work have the right to for themselves.
 
She reminded party members and supporters that there is public support for this move following the London Slutwalk in June which attracted around 5,000 marchers.
 
“The last government let these women down badly,” she said. “We can do so much better.”