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Prostitutes are victims, not criminals

13 avril 2007

par Joan Smith

The Government still hasn’t made up its mind about women and girls who sell sex on the streets

When a serial killer began targeting young women working as prostitutes in
Ipswich towards the end of last year, it seemed unlikely that the Government’s
prostitution strategy was at the forefront of his mind. Yet six months later,
as a local man awaits trial on five counts of murder, the most notorious series
of killings since the Yorkshire Ripper inquiry has turned Ipswich into the
testing ground for the Home Office’s tough new anti-prostitution policy.

Since the end of last month, women and girls selling sex on the streets of
Ipswich are being offered counselling to help them escape prostitution - what
campaigners against prostitution call an exit strategy. Each woman will be the
subject of a case conference to assess her needs and then offered assistance to
find alternative ways of earning a living, while kerb crawlers will be tracked
via CCTV and number-plate recognition technology. So far, so good - but women
who don’t co-operate risk a harsh regime including prosecution and Asbos,
exposing the contradictions at the heart of Home Office thinking about the sex

It’s clear from this combination of threats and incentives that the Government
still hasn’t made up its mind about the status of women and girls who sell sex
on the streets. This shouldn’t be difficult, when its own research shows that
many of them are barely out of their teens, have been sexually abused as
children and are dependent on heroin or crack cocaine ; such women are clearly
victims, who have fallen through the few safety nets that exist in our
competitive society, and they should be treated as such.

Read the whole article : The Independent, United Kingdom, April 13, 2007.

On Sisyphe, April 18, 2007

Joan Smith

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