Most people are voiceless because no one is letting them talk or listening to them when they do. There is a lot to be said for quitting being the voice of the voiceless and letting people speak for themselves. But not by those seeking to abolish the sex trade. Words are put into people's mouths when they can be, and when they can't, those people are silenced and dismissed.
With politicians' infamy for 'shifting the burden', this was not the best title for an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) report. Chosen to reflect their recommendation of shifting the burden of criminalisation from the seller of sex to the buyer, in practice this fails as badly as when politicians endeavour a cover up - like why was this group funded by a religious anti-gay charity!?
In 2009, Kent Police began a scheme in Medway called Safe Exit, supposedly to help women leave the sex trade by offering treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, training and education, and housing. These services along with others such as trauma therapy are needed by many women seeking to leave prostitution. But what our investigation uncovered was that instead of receiving these services, the women received a criminal record, a major obstacle preventing people leaving the sex trade by hindering other employment chances and keeping them trapped in prostitution.
I think any steps that are taken that enhance the police response to attacks on vulnerable groups such as sex workers are important... The Merseyside model aims to build trust and confidence amongst sex workers to report when they are attacked, which allows the police to identify and arrest dangerous people who pose a threat to the whole of society.
This joined-up approach prioritising protection over enforcement enables women in the sex trade to feel safe reporting crimes committed against them. Because trusting relationships with the police have been developed, reporting of crimes has dramatically increased. Women in prostitution in Merseyside know when they call the police they will be treated as any other victim of crime...
“The sex industry includes two major demographics of people who are widely segregated. Sex workers are viewed by society as helpless souls who can’t possibly make healthy choices because they are victims and in desperate need of rescue. Trafficking survivors are viewed as pity cases who are incapable of doing much of anything besides art or sewing, and a pretty bedroom will solve the issues of complex trauma,” she continued. “Both views are wrong but it’s hard to hear the voices of sex workers and trafficking survivors through the billowing echoes of the ‘voice of the voiceless’,” she added.
Jackie Summerford is the mother of Bonnie Barratt who was murdered at 24 years old in the sex trade. If the Merseyside hate crime model was in operation in London, Bonnie's killer might have been reported to the police before and she would be alive today... Please add your signature to the Change.org petition calling for Rt Hon Mrs Theresa May MP to make the Merseyside hate crime model law UK wide: http://www.change.org/merseysidemodel.
We know them. We all know a woman who struggles with drugs and alcohol. Perhaps she’s a woman in your family, a friend or even a co-worker, but we know them. If you have not been a drug addict then you cannot know what they go through. You can’t imagine the pain they feel from moment to moment and the things that they are driven to do because of that addiction.... Ruth Jacobs has been there – in the very recesses of hell – and she came back to us...
The Merseyside hate crime model of policing prostitution leads the country. In these two documentaries for Inside Out, airing on BBC1 in the London and North West regions, writer Ruth Jacobs investigates why crimes against sex trade workers are going unpunished, clearly showing the urgency for the Merseyside model to be made UK wide to prevent more rapes and save lives, taking more rapists and murderers off the streets.
The short film 'Honest Lies' is based on a story written Anita James, a woman who was previously in prostitution... Following the screening will be a discussion of the challenges and barriers faced by women seeking to leave the sex trade, ways in which they can be empowered and supported, and a clear message of support for a change in UK law, calling for people who are in prostitution to be decriminalised.