get up, stand up…

By amy ~ November 29th, 2010 @ 3:00 pm

Well, here we are again. With apologies to those not too fussed about keeping up with political developments, and whom presumably are not interested in either the continued erosion of personal liberty, nor the very early stages of the introduction of the much reviled ‘Swedish Model‘ (or at least the real possibility of a version of it) being slyly introduced into the UK by way of our rather more puritannical neighbours in Scotland, this week we will be acquainting ourselves with the soon-to-be-retired MSP Trish ‘no really, I just needed somewhere handier for work‘ Godman’s latest attempt to effectively outlaw prostitution north of the border by criminalising our clients and banning our advertising, jeopardising the livelihoods of many women (and men) working happily in the sex industry and creating horribly dangerous working conditions for all of those who choose to continue doing so.

This proposal can be viewed here

As all intelligent adults know, banning things via the introduction of Draconian legislation always makes them disappear from society immediately, like Prohibition in the US, no? The incontrovertible proof of the failure this naive and simplistic approach brings would surely be the continued existance (as Trish is keen to point out to us all in her own proposal) of the few people who are working under duress and against their will. Since kidnap, false imprisonment, inciting someone to be a prostitute, assault and rape are all illegal already but according to Trish herself are still commonplace throughout the industry, what further proof do we require that yet another meaningless and expensive redrafting of the statute books to add yet more unenforcable legislation is utterly futile when it comes to the people who it is supposedly intended to be helping? And even if it wasn’t, does Ms Godman seriously believe that those countries where paid sex is illegal no longer have any punters or prostitutes?

Street workers, the oft-patronised subjects of much agonised middle-class handwringing, and traditionally viewed as the ‘bottom rung’, and most pitiable victims of our industry (at least until trafficking became the new buzzword, and the supposed influx of wide-eyed, undernourished non-English speakers kept locked up puppy cages bumped them up a notch on the general public’s perceived Prossie Ladder) are even less likely to be consulted about the proposals than the rest of us, since actually going out and asking the people who your new rules are going to affect would not only be far too much like hard work, but risk the tricky issue of sensible input from those who actually know what they are talking about and will be affected by the outcome long after Ms Godman has sold up and f*cked off in six months time. The most obvious question being, how exactly does reducing the number of any prostitute’s likely customers and therefore her/his earning potential (per night, say) help them?

If I did not have online ads, or a website and was going to out to find punters (leaving aside the fact that I would be breaking soliciting laws), and I need, say thirty quid to get the electric on and put some food in the fridge, how is it better if I have to stand outside for two hours rather than ten minutes because the punters have nearly all gone? If the parlour or flat where I worked has been raided and closed, or it’s advertising banned so there are no customers I would have no other means of earning a living – what else do we think Trish would suggest I do then? Of course, the idea behind the whole move is based upon an intrinsically flawed premise; that nobody would choose prostitution as a legitimate means to make money, and what we all really really want is the chance to do something, anything, else but it has been repeatedly demonstrated that this is not the case – unfortunately, unlike organisations such as the UK Network of Sex Work Projects (whose member projects deal with real live outdoor and indoor workers every day, so one would suspect they would be able to offer a useful, credible and knowledgable view – needless to say they have not been consulted any more than we have), our own expressed wishes as well as our basic human right to self-determination, including deciding whether we want to exit or remain in our chosen occupation, are not considered important enough for these hypocritical, bandwagon-jumping moral supremicists to be troubled with.

No-one reading this needs me to tell them that the sex industry worldwide is both vast and incredibly diverse, and it naturally inspires a huge range of views and opinions amongst those from both inside and outside, but these proposals transcend even this. The underlying aim to ostensibly remove the right of consenting adults to decide who they have sex with and for what reason, is surely unthinkable in a developed country in the 21st century. To draw attention to Section 53 in particular:

Purchasing sex does not necessarily mean monetary payment is given in exchange for sexual services. It is well documented that sexual services can be exchanged, particularly with young people, or swapped for drugs, shelter, food, clothing or paying off a debt rather than receiving payment or goods.

Ms Godman would appear to be in favour of banning pretty much all human sexual relationships since some sort of exchange, however indirect, is virtually inevitable. I wonder how many of the people covered by the above had no idea they were prostitutes, rather than wives, girlfriends or fuck buddies – you live and learn! The same tired old misleading, manipulated figures from the usual suspects get another outing *yawns, stretches*, and nobody (least of all me) needs to go over them again – I do believe it would be at least the fourth time for this blog alone, but fortunately their inclusion along with the more blatantly silly clauses (like that quoted above) may well be the death knell for the whole embarrassing mess, by being so easy to challenge and refute that they will decimate any minimal credibility the document may have had far more effectively than anything any of us could throw at it.

For the moment, I personally am awaiting instruction from those more in the know on the best way to challenge this – it would seem a Private Members Bill (the last one was a sneaky, last minute  ‘amendment’ which tried, and resoundingly failed to nip through unnoticed) is a different process again; I am also waiting to find out the identity of her successor, since it is they who will be taking the baton in May, and the chances of this shambles being prioritised enough to be fast-tracked before the General Election period starts is practically zero, although I suspect that the party in question will understandable want to be keeping their head down for the time being. So that is the position for now.

Trish Godman (from the SCPO site interview): ‘I think that because politicians are dealing with people of all shapes, sizes, races and beliefs, that you cannot always put your own moral judgement on what other people do.‘ Wouldn’t it be nice if they took their own advice occasionally?

Watch this space, folks.

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3 Responses to get up, stand up…

  1. Joey

    The person trying to make this happens just needs to have a friggin wake up call.

    Above all, do they know the economic implications that would cause? Dozens of escorts would have to go out and find the 1st job they could get, increasing competition in an already narrow workforce.

    Why can’t these stupid people understand that we as escorts actually help the economy. We’re not trying to take people’s jobs and the only competition is those within our line of work. There are only a few select of us in the scheme of things.

    I cant understand why some people are so bent on trying to prevent 2 people from doing something consensual. I bet if all prostitution ended today…the same issues they are bitching about would still be going on today. Its so ridiculous!

  2. Tom Davies

    you can understand it much more easily when you realise that Godman’s only motivation is to get her career back on track by appealing to moronic voters. Don’t bother sharing your opinion with her, it’s a waste of time. What’s needed is to explain the consequences to voters who know diddly-squat about the reality of prostitution, and other MPs. Sadly, that’s a big challenge, but one that’s worth trying.

  3. amy

    Indeed – since Ms Godman is standing down in May, Lord alone knows who she’s trying to impress with this but I suspect you may be right. Fortunately early indications would suggest that her support even among her peers is not what she might have hoped for, and I doubt many of the voters care one way or the other. Whatever happens will be the responsibility of her successor since nothing is likely to happen prior to the election, and oddly enough nobody seems to want to stick their neck out and admit that they are taking the mantle there. We’ll see.

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