Invite your MP to hear the evidence on decriminalisation of prostitution

Posted at 17:49 on 29 Oct 2015 by Pandora / Blake

Tags: decriminalisation, politics, sex worker rights

Dear [Name of MP],

I am writing as your constituent to urge you to attend an evidence gathering symposium on the decriminalisation of prostitution in the House of Commons on Tuesday 3rd November 11am-6pm.

This event, organized by the English Collective of Prostitutes, will bring together academics and other experts - including sex workers, the experts on the ground - to provide a definitive source of statistical evidence for parliamentarians, to inform debates, policies and law change on prostitution. The symposium will address key issues such as safety, health, policing, the perceived connection between prostitution and trafficking, and the impact of austerity on prostitution levels.

As a woman and as someone who feels strongly that all workers deserve labour rights, the safety and human rights of sex workers is an urgent priority for me. Sex work is on the increase in the UK as a result of austerity, welfare cuts and rising poverty. At the same time, sex workers are prevented by the law from working safely. Sex workers who report instances of rape and violence are at risk of being arrested themselves, while their assailants go unpunished. The closure of sex work premises by police forces workers onto the street, where they are more vulnerable to attack and arrest, and record numbers are facing raids, arrests, prosecution and even prison.

As a self-identified LGBT individual and a passionate advocate for social equality, I feel that our current legal system surrounding prostitution is not fit for purpose and in fact actively causes harm. Our laws do nothing to reduce the dangers of prostitution, and their enforcement puts our society's most marginalised individuals at greater risk. Whatever your personal feelings about prostitution, I don't think that any workers deserve to be arrested and imprisoned for making difficult choices at a time when many people are living in desperate poverty.

Many sex workers are mums simply trying to put food on the table by the best means available to them. Others are people with disabilities, mental health problems or chronic illnesses, who are penalised by welfare cuts and simply need a flexible job that suits their needs. I do not believe that laws criminalising necessary activities that accompany consensual adult sex work, such as advertising services or working together for safety, have any place in a fair society. We should be working to protect the most marginalised members of our community, and that full decriminalisation of prostitution is a verifiable way to improve health and reduce harm.

You may know that Amnesty International recently voted in support of decriminalisation as a means to improve human rights worldwide, and called on governments to review their prostitution laws and provide resources in the form of “state benefits, education and training and/or alternative employment” to help sex workers leave prostitution if they want.

This symposium is an opportunity for MPs to hear first-hand the evidence and research from leading experts in the UK, Canada, Sweden and Thailand among others, including Catherine Healy (New Zealand Prostitutes Collective) who will be speaking on the Prostitution Reform Act, which was introduced in New Zealand in 2003, with verifiable success in improving health, safety and human rights. A five-year government review found measurable improvement in sex workers' health and safety; no increase in prostitution or trafficking; that women are able to report violence without fear of arrest, and sex workers are more able to leave prostitution as convictions are cleared from their records.

I urge you therefore to attend this important event, and hope you will give serious consideration to the decriminalisation of sex work, based on the evidence presented to you.

Yours sincerely,

Pandora Blake

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I just sent this email to my MP calling on them to attend the evidence gathering symposium for decriminalisation of sex work in Parliament on 3 November. It only took a minute or two using a model letter - please take the time to do the same. All you have to do is visit this page and put in your postcode - easy as that.

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