17th December 2011
For immediate release.
IUSW marks International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, December 17th
Home Office funds UK wide Ugly Mugs scheme
The International Union of Sex Workers warmly welcomes the Home Office announcement of funds for a pilot scheme UK wide Ugly Mugs scheme, to be run by the UK Network of Sex Work Projects and launched in spring 2012. While sex workers are criminalised for working together, we will remain fearful of contacting the police to report crimes against us – Ugly Mugs schemes offer sex workers a safe way to report to a third party, enabling the investigation of criminals who often target sex workers, knowing our fear of the police.
ACPO support International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers
We also welcome the first ever ACPO support of International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. The police often see at first hand the harmful effects of the current legislation, and the inherent contradiction between their roles of prosecution and protection. For ACPO to recognise that “the safety of people engaged in sex work must be paramount to the police service,” to quote the Strategy for Policing Prostitution and Sexual Exploitation, released in November 2011 is a sea change from the priorities that too often hold sway.
London is getting it wrong
Meanwhile, sex workers in London are increasingly afraid of the authorities. Anti-sex work organisations have used the 2012 Olympics to create political pressure based on their ideological opposition to women selling sex. The IUSW and UKNSWP, together with fifteen other signatories – from organisations of people in the sex industry and front-line services, as well as academics with expertise on migration, trafficking and the sex industry – have written to Boris Johnson and members of the London Assembly to say that London is getting it wrong on prostitution, and endangering the lives of people in the sex industry.
Vulnerability creates victims
The vulnerability of people in the sex industry is increased by our social exclusion and our criminalisation. Gary Ridgway, the “Green River Killer” who murdered at least 71 women, said, “I picked prostitutes as victims because they were easy to pick up without being noticed. I knew they would not be reported missing right away and might never be reported missing … I thought I could kill as many of them as I wanted without getting caught.”
The IUSW campaigns for adoption of the “Merseyside Model” nationwide, in which crime against sex workers is treated as hate crime. Under this regime in Liverpool, there is a 68% detection rate for rapes committed against sex workers and a 90% conviction rate for other crimes of violence.
Catherine Stephens, an activist with the IUSW, says “People in the sex industry deserve the same protection of the law as everyone else. We will only have this when prostitution is decriminalised – we know this works from the experience of New Zealand and decriminalised areas of Australia.”
For further information contact:
Catherine Stephens, activist, International Union of Sex Workers
07772 638748 / 020 7697 1057
IUSW c/o MSH Suite C Maples Business Centre 144 Liverpool Road London N1 1LA
Lorraine Galatowicz, Chair, UKNSWP
UKNSWP 114 Cariocca Business Park Sawley Road Manchester M40 8BB