It’s been an interesting week as far as the law relating to sex work is concerned. I’ve been reluctant to post, instead spending quite a bit of time looking at the proposals, reviewing the comment and responses by academics and others and attempting to calm down from my initial reaction. The story kicked off on Wednesday with many papers reporting the story. The Guardian is as good an example as any, reporting the key points of government proposals as:
· Men to be prosecuted if they pay for sex with women who are trafficked or under control of a pimp
· Ignorance that woman was being controlled not to be a defence and conviction to carry hefty fine and criminal record
· Men who knowingly pay for sex with trafficked women may face rape charges
· First-time kerb crawlers face prosecution and naming and shaming
This was followed by an interview between Julie Bindell and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith in which the clear underlying aim is to undermine sex work more generally. In the surrounding stories sex work continues to be constructed as an activity undertaken by women and exploited by men. This continued limited analysis that ignores the role of men (both as sex workers and as clients of male sex workers) and women as clients (both of male and female workers)continues to depress me. An extended interview with Jacquie Smith was carried by the Guardian on Friday. You know it must be deeply flawed when former Home Secretary Michael Howard dubbed the measures “half-baked” and “unworkable” on the BBC programme, The Daily Politics. Not a man known for being at the liberal end of the political spectrum. Minette Marrin similarly goes on the offensive in the Sunday Times today. Marrin writes:
‘Once again this government is trying to override common sense, human nature and personal freedom in the interests of a policy not fit for purpose.’
I couldn’t agree more.