IUSW response to Tory MSP comment – was rape victim a prostitute?

Press Release
IUSW response to Tory MSP comment – was rape victim a prostitute?
The International Union of Sex Workers
Sunday 13th Feb 2011 Immediate Release

I write as an activist with the International Union of Sex Workers, an organisation of people who work in the sex industry. Like many others, we deplore Bill Aitken’s comments. However, the idea that a woman’s consent to sex counts for less if she has sex for money is a common one – it is shared by those who campaign for criminalisation of sex workers’ clients. The ideology that buying sex is violence by men against women is often presented as the feminist viewpoint on prostitution, and the criminalisation of purchase (the “Swedish” model) presented as the solution. One of the most ardently advocated feminist principles is that “no means no”.  Ironically, according to some feminists, for sex workers, “yes” cannot mean “yes”. Until our consent is treated with the same respect as that of any other woman, attitudes like Bill Aitken’s will continue.

The violence sex workers experience is often used by those oppose prostitution itself as an argument for our eradication. But a project in Liverpool shows what can be done if the authorities listen to us when we talk about violence. Working with a specialist Independent Sexual Violence Advisor based at the Armistead project, police prioritise protection rather than prosecution. Using a “hate crime” model, they achieve a 90% conviction rate for crimes of violence against street sex workers, and a 68% conviction rate for rape.
Policies that solve problems are based in reality and on evidence, not ideology.

The International Union of Sex Workers:
For our human, civil and labour rights.  For our inclusion and decriminalisation.
For freedom to choose and respect for those choices, including the absolute right to say no.
For the full protection of the law. For everyone in the sex industry.

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