Anorak News | Former prostitutes demand the right to be judgement free

Former prostitutes demand the right to be judgement free

by | 17th, January 2018

You can’t earn Brownies badges for running a self-employed enterprise, handling cash, dealing with difficult customers, fighting or avoiding prosecution for using your own body for sex, although there are badges for hostessing and watersports. Of course Brownies are underage, and former prostitutes seeking to work with them will stick to teaching children more age-appropriate skills than turning tricks.

The link between Brown Owl’s charges and prostitutes is made in the Telegraph, which delivers the headline: “Former prostitutes to sue the Government as criminal records stop them volunteering with Brownie groups.” What risk does a law-abiding former prostitute pose to children? None. Not unless you treat the women as suspects first and last, people who didn’t sell sex for cash because they had to or made a free and conscious choice, but because they are psychologically flawed, criminally minded and morally unsound.

In England and Wales, the sale and purchase of sexual services between consenting adults is legal. And it’s popular. According to a Government document from 2016, “around 11% of British men aged 16–74 have paid for sex on at least one occasion, which equates to 2.3 million individuals. In 2014–15, there were 456 prosecutions of sex workers for loitering and soliciting. An estimated 152 sex workers were murdered between 1990 and 2015…. Soliciting, kerb crawling, brothel-keeping and various forms of exploitation, are illegal.”

Women with convictions for more or one of the above offences say their criminal records under the Street Offences Act 1959 have prevented them from taking up volunteering and job opportunities. They argue that the retention, recording and disclosure of criminal convictions arising from soliciting offences “discriminates against women and is contrary to the UK’s legal obligations in respect of the trafficking of women.” There case is to be heard at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Is it fair that past offences are allowed to damage us in later life, when we’re on the straight and narrow and haven’t offended for years?

One anonymous woman’s words feature in a press release from the Centre for Women’s Justice:

“It doesn’t matter what it is – trying to help out at my kids’ school or the local brownies’ coffee morning, trying to be a governor or a councillor, applying to education or training or employment – even volunteering in so many fields – with children, with the elderly, in care, with vulnerable people, with youth work, with social work – all need a DBS and then you get treated like some sort of pariah or sex offender.But it’s not fair – I never chose that life and I fought hard to get out of it but I’m always being pulled back to it as though that’s who I am, but it’s not who I am.”

Fiona Broadfoot has more on the exploitation and dangers that face prostitutes:

“I met a pimp aged 15 and two weeks later I was thrown into the violent and abusive world of prostitution. Rape became an occupational hazard but I was arrested, charged and criminalised for loitering for the purposes of being a common prostitute. After more than twenty years out of prostitution, I am still having to explain my criminal record to any prospective employer. It feels like explaining my history of abuse.”

That can’t be civilised and decent can it. Don’t we all of us deserve the right to move on? Moreover, isn’t it time prostitution was decriminalised – is it right that the State sees women’s bodies as public property open to judgement?

Posted: 17th, January 2018 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink