British Blowjobs for British Johns

I don’t know about you, but I thought that yesterday’s announcement of the government’s new ‘crack down’ on the demand side of prostitution lack a little something.

Where, one has to ask, was the sound-bite?

Come on, New Labour! What the hell’s going on here?

Back in the day, when the Maximum Tone was running the show, no policy announcement was complete without it’s carefully crafted short, pithy, slogan to carry it all the way to the front page of the Daily Mail.

Remember the classics, ‘Education, education, education’ and ‘Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime’?

They seem to be a thing of the past. Now, even with the Prodigal Mandy back in the fold, all we get is Jacqui Smith shipping up the Today programme to tell us that:

“My proposal is that men should think twice about paying for sex. The reason they should do that is actually the majority of women don’t want to be involved in prostitution.”

Meh.

Where’s the snap? The sparkle? The Pizzazz?

All gone…

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, if you look at what the government is planning for dealing with sex trafficking then the perfect sound-bite fair screams off the page at you – just try this for size…

BRITISH BLOWJOBS FOR BRITISH JOHNS

It’s perfect isn’t it?

It’s got just exactly the right mix of patriotic fervour and naked economic protectionism you need for a good slogan at a time when the countries heading into a recession and it fits the policy like an expensively-tailored Saville Row suit.

If visiting a foreign prostitute means taking the risk that they might have been trafficked to get here then play safe, boys, and stick firmly to our own home-grown hookers – you just know it makes sense!

Time To Get Serious

Okay, that’s fun-time out of the way, now let’s the serious point, which is that these new proposals are no more than the usual confused and incoherent ragbag of ill-thought out measures that we always end up whenever a government attempts to legislate on what it perceives as a ‘controversial’ issue, particularly one with marked moral and ethical overtones and a range of special interests all demanding that the state fall into line with their preferred position to the exclusion of all others.

On this occasion, its prostitution but it could just as easily be drug use, alcohol, pornography or any other activity that attracts the moral disapproval of a special interest group and the outcome is always the same; legislation that demonstrates nothing more than government’s inability to think clearly and reason its way to implementing the kind of rational legal framework that addresses the abuse of any of these activities without unduly impinging on or restricting the rights of those freely engage in them of their own free will.

On this occasion, I don’t want to get too heavily into the generalities of the decriminalisation debate, not least because Laurie and others already do a fine job of covering that angle.

What I find much more interesting is the extent to which supporters of these new proposals, within parliament, are resorting to utterly abysmal lines of argument, for which there is little or no evidential support, in order to make their case, as demonstrated here by Fiona McTaggart:

These clients really do have a free choice, yet their choice causes violence towards women – prostituted women are 40 times as likely to die a violent death as other women. So policy needs to target the men who choose to buy women. In countries where prostitution is legalised the violence does not end. Nevada, where prostitution is largely legal, has the highest rate of murder of women of any US state. As a woman from New Zealand, working in a legal brothel, said after she had been violently raped, “I can’t report it, it’s part of the job.” And because countries which make this legal find that their sex markets grow hugely, more women are at risk.

Okay, we’ve got two basic arguments here, one being the level of violence to which prostitutes are subjected and the other being that decriminalisation leads to a much larger sex market and simply cause its the easiest to deal with, we’ll take those arguments in reverse order:

A Bigger Market for Sex?

So, does the legalisation of prostitution result in a larger market for sex?

Not according to researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand, where prostitution was decriminalised in 2003.

The number of sex workers on the street since the passing of the Prostitution Reform Act has not increased according to latest research by Otago University’s Christchurch School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The early results of a wider study indicates that the number of sex workers on the street is much the same as before the Act came into force in 2003.

“Contrary to the much publicised assertions of local and national politicians, the evidence is actually that numbers of sex workers on the streets haven’t increased since prostitution was decriminalised,” says Ms Abel, leader of the research team.

So where does this idea that decriminalisation leads to an increase in the number of sex workers actually come from?

Well, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Justice’s Prostitution Law Review Committee, which reported earlier this year:

Arguments that decriminalisation has increased the numbers of people in the sex industry are largely founded on the flawed assumption that decriminalisation would increase the numbers of people involved in prostitution.

In short, there’s a pervasive belief amongst those opposed to decriminalisation in New Zealand that a lie told often enough really will become the truth, even though the review goes on to note that:

The Committee is satisfied that such assumptions have been proved to be unfounded.

Since decriminalisation, sex workers have become somewhat more visible, which can create the false impression that number have increased, but otherwise there’s no evidence to support the contention that legalisation has resulted in a larger market for sex.

Before moving on, I must commend this review to anyone interested in this issue as its very well researched, commendably clear where its findings are subject to limitations and problems with data gathering and its conclusions are honest and well evidenced throughout – in fact it’s everything that our own government’s review, which led to this latest set of proposals, isn’t.

Prostitution and Violence

Okay, now lets move on the thorny issue of violence where it certainly is true that homicide rates amongst prostitutes are higher than in any other female demographic, but that information on its own provides little or no actually illumination because what matters here is not just whether prostitutes are more likely to experience violence than other women but why that happens, and it just happens that, drawing on my own personal stock of research information, we find this account of client/prostitute violence in the US…

Prostitute homicides committed by clients are not easily characterized by motives. Often, any attributed motive is based solely on the self-report of the perpetrator. The varied motives cited in the NCAVC, media, Chicago, and St. Louis data include arguments over the sex for money/drugs exchange, responses to the victim’s (attempted) robbery of the client, verbal insults from the victim, demands or requests by the victim, the client’s misogyny, the client’s hatred of prostitutes, the client’s sadism, the client’s psychopathology (e.g., sexual deviance, psychopathy, and psychosis), other motives, some combination of these reasons, or,
commonly, no apparent precipitating factor.

Extent, Trends, and Perpetrators of Prostitution-Related Homicide in the United States. Devon D. Brewer, Ph.D.; Jonathan A. Dudek, Ph.D.; John J. Potterat, B.A.; Stephen Q. Muth, B.A.; John
M. Roberts, Jr., Ph.D.; and Donald E. Woodhouse, J.D. (2006), J Forensic Sci, September 2006, Vol. 51, No. 5

In fact, as I’m in a good mode you can have a full copy of the report on the house.

Generally speaking, violence against prostitutes falls into one of two categories; there’s situational violence, i.e. arguments over payment, robbery, etc and then there’s pathological violence which is predicated on misogyny, hatred of prostitutes, sadism, etc.

Situational violence may conceivably be something on which the criminalisation of punters could have an impact because, in crude statistical terms, fewer punters could mean fewer situations in which violent incidents occur.

But when we get to pathological violence, then we’re dealing with a very different ball game because, give or take a few cases in which the active pathology is fixated specifically on prostitutes, neither criminalising punter nor driving prostitutes off the streets and even further underground is going to have any significant impact – the kind of men who’re motivated to assault, rape and murder prostitutes out of overwhelming misogyny or because they’re sadists or because they have a psychopathic, psychotic or sociopathic disorder aren’t going to be any less mysogynistic, sadistic or off their head for making it a bit more difficult for them to find a hooker and they sure as hell aren’t going to give a toss about this or any other law that seeks to criminalise part or all of the demand side of prostitution.

In fact, when it comes to that particular subset of punters, driving prostitution further underground only make the problem worse,

Prostitutes are already highly unlikely to come forward and report an violent or threatening John and are even less likely to do so if calling attention to themselves leads to some of their non-violent punters getting arrested under this new law and that creates a very particular problem because in the US, at a conservative estimate, 35% of prostitute homicides are committed by serial perpetrators, but these serial perps make up only around 8% of those convicted of killing a prostitute.

It’s doesn’t take a genius to figure out that:

A. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to criminalise punters, prostitutes or both, the law will have absolute zero impact on our little subset of psycho-perps,

B. Any measure which makes it less even likely that a prostitute will report a violent punter to the police is going to make it more difficult to track down and weed out the psychos before the level of violence escalates to and/or murder, and

C. Even if you were to completely eradicate prostitution tomorrow, you still wouldn’t eradicate misogyny, sadism or serious personality disorders, so removing one target means simply that the women-haters and psychos will find themselves another.

McTaggart’s suggestion that the demand for prostitution causes violence towards women is complete and utter rubbish.

Prostitutes actually provides an outlet for and absorbs a significant amount of violence that would otherwise be directed against women who have no involvement whatsoever in the sex industry and it does so, in the main, only because the social and legal stigma attached to prostitution – a stigma that operates if you criminalise either side of the transaction – too often results in prostitutes failing to report violent punters to the police and in a failure, within the criminal justice system, to take complaints of violence made by prostitutes seriously and investigate them properly.

As the New Zealand committee report notes, somewhat ruefully, in its section which deal directly with violence against prostitutes since decriminalisation:

The decriminalisation of the sex industry was intended to make it more likely that sex workers would report violent behaviour by clients to the Police, increasing their safety as clients realised that they could no longer ‘get away with it’. It appears that adverse incidents, including violence, continue to be experienced by those in the sex industry.

Before going on to note that…

There is conflicting evidence on whether violence is reported more often since decriminalisation, but clearly there is still a marked reluctance amongst sex workers to follow through on complaints. The CSOM report concludes that stigmatisation plays a key role in the non-reporting of incidents. The Committee has commented elsewhere that stigmatisation is still attached to the sex industry, and it will take time before it dissipates.

That reluctance, and the fatalistic attitude it engenders amongst prostitutes who’ve experienced violence at the hands of a client is what actually accounts for the comment that McTaggart cites in her article – “I can’t report it [rape], it’s part of the job.”.

Rape is not ‘part of the job’ and prostitutes have as much of a legitimate expectation that the law and the criminal justice system will seek protect them from violence and prosecute those who perpetrate it against them as anyone else, not that this seems to have occurred to McTaggart in this case as she’s far too preoccupied with the absurd idea that you can bully prostitution out of existence by picking on the Johns to consider that simply catching and prosecuting the perps might make a useful starting point for an effort to reduce the level of violence to which prostitutes are subjected.

More Bad Arguments

If McTaggart’s general proposition is nonsense, her supporting arguments are even worse.

We’re told, for example, that Nevada – which has legal brothels – has the highest rate of female homicide in the US, but what she neglects to mention is that:

For homicides in which the victim to offender relationship could be identified, 92 percent of female victims (36 out of 39) were murdered by someone they knew.

And that…

Of the victims who knew their offenders, 64 percent (23 victims) were wives, common-law wives, ex-wives, or girlfriends of the offenders.

(Source)

So let’s ban relationships and cut the murder rate by 64%, eh?

You actually have to go back to 1991 to find the last occasion on which the murder of woman in Nevada had even the most tenuous connection to its system of legal brothels, in the sense that the victim had worked in one, and even that story ended up in 2007, in the woman’s boyfriend being tried for her murder.

In fact, none of McTaggart’s arguments stand up to scrutiny, not even, it seems, her opening assertion that:

Research shows that some 80% start as children, groomed into prostitution often by a man posing as a boyfriend. Others, unable to earn a living in other ways, turn to prostitution and the drugs they use to help them deal with that experience end up controlling their lives.

Referring, again, to the research conducted in New Zealand as part of its decriminalisation review, less 4% of the 770 prostitutes in the study reported having been coerced into prostitution and only 21% reported having become a prostitute to service a drug or alcohol habit, although this rises to 53% when dealing only with street prostitutes.

So far as the top reasons given, these were money (93%), to pay the bills (73%), to pay for luxuries (62%), saving up for something (58%, but only 35% amongst street prostitutes) and curiosity (49%).

The Swedish Experience – A Systematic Fraud.

Of course, the background to these proposals is Sweden’s decision to criminalise all payment for sexual services in 1999, which McTaggart believes would have been preferable to the somewhat watered-down proposals that the government have actually put forward. Although the Home office stopped short of implementing the Swedish system in full on logistical grounds – Britain’s sex industry is thought to be too large compared to Sweden’s at the time of criminalisation to make outright criminalisation a viable option – it’s clear from the government’s own report that it has proved influential in shaping the government’s thinking, which presents us with a significant problem as a recent critical review of the 2004 Gunilla Ekberg’s hugely influential account of the Swedish experience (Ekberg, Gunilla: The Swedish Law That Prohibits the Purchase of Sexual Services in Violence Against Women, vol. 10, no. 10, October 2004) by Vincent Clausen concludes that:

Ekberg’s article is presenting facts (spurious or not) and a normative, ideological programme at one and the same time. Given the size of the article, the ‘hard facts’ part is not substantial.

Before going on to note that:

The presentation of factual information in Ekberg’s article has been subordinated to the ends of presenting a coherent normative formula to be applied in prostitution policy. The role of facts, spurious or not, is that of providing a footing for this ideological formula. As such, Ekberg’s article should be seen entirely as a political manifesto, touting the principles behind Swedish prostitution policy world wide, rather than an attempt at accounting for the effects of the prohibition of the purchase of sexual services.

In academic/research terms, Ekberg’s paper is a fraud and, worryingly, the Home Office’s report cites (inaccurately) one of statistics given in the Ekberg paper that Clausen comprehensively demolishes…

When legislation to criminalise paying for sex was introduced in Sweden, prostitution only existed to any significant extent in three cities with an estimated 1500 people selling sex in those cities.

Tackling The Demand For Prostitution: A Review, Home Office (2008)

It is estimated that the number of women in prostitution has decreased from 2,500 in1999, before the Law came into force, to no more than 1,500 women in Sweden in 2002.

Ekberg (2004)

Clausen’s demolition of this claim is too long to reprint here in full but the short version is that of seven references provided support the claimed reduction in prostitution, three are personal conversations, one is a series of unpublished annual police reports from the county police in Stockholm and the remaining three are newspaper articles, none of which provide any documentary evidence for an actual decrease in the number of women in prostitution.

What has been documented is a 50% decrease in the number of street prostitution in one specific district in Stockholm, as Anders Gripenlöf, co-author of the police reports noted in 2003:

“The criminalisation of the prostitution users has contributed to a reduction in street prostitution in Sweden. The number of women in prostitution in Malmskillnadsgatan has been reduced by more than 50%.

However, the report of Gripenlöf’s comments goes on to state that:

On the other hand, we don’t know whether it has had any effect on prostitution overall, says criminal inspector Anders Gripenlöf from the prostitution group at the investigation department of the metropolitan police.

However, other evidence cited by Clausen paints a pretty clear picture of the effect that Sweden’s decision to criminalise payment for sexual services has actually had.

Combined with interventionist policing, this law did reduce the level of street prostitution in Sweden by around 40% between 1999 and 2004 although even this figure is slightly misleading. Both Stockholm and Gothenburg saw significant falls in the number of women involved in street prostitution after the law came into effect, but the numbers of street prostitutes working in both cities had stabilised by 2004. However in Malmo, the third Swedish city in which street prostitutes operate, the numbers working the streets actually increased between 1999 and 2004 by 69%. However, at the same time that street prostitution declined, Internet (and other types of) prostitution increased as did Swedish sex tourism to neighbouring Finland and Denmark.

The Great Prostitution Review Hornswoggle

We have a major problem here.

The government have relied on three primary pieces of evidence in formulating this policy, two of which are ideological manifestos that, by any reasonable academic standards, have to be considered not only flawed but something close to fraudulent.

In addition to the Ekberg paper, the government have leaned heavily on a report (‘Big Brothel’) by the Poppy Project which a group of academics and researchers have described in the following terms:

The report builds a damning picture of indoor sex work on the basis of data whose reliability and representativeness is extremely doubtful and a methodological approach that would be considered unethical by most professional social researchers. It makes claims about trafficking, exploitation and the current working conditions of women and men employed in the indoor sex industry on the basis of that data. These claims cannot be substantiated in terms of the methodology, the data presented or in terms of wider, ethically approved, peer reviewed academic evidence. In short, the report does not provide any evidence concerning the current working conditions of women and men employed in indoor sex work venues in the UK.

Moreover, in much the same way that Clauser notes a distinct and rather obvious ideological bias in the Ekberg paper, so this group of academics have noted that:

The ‘findings’ of this report (Big Brothel) are framed by a pre‐existing political view of prostitution.

As for the third and final piece of significant ’empirical’ evidence on which these proposals are predicated, an as yet unpublished review of academic evidence commissioned from the University of Huddersfield, it remains to be seen what will emerge from this although the early signs aren’t promising. Not only is this evidence review limited to research relating to ‘sex buyers’ but the one item of evidence extracted from it thus far, as estimate of the value of the prostitution market in the UK based on data taken from ‘Economics Uncut: A Complete Guide to Life, Death and Misadventure‘ (2005):

The prostitution market in the UK is calculated to be worth up to £1bn

…seems rather at odds with the assertion, on the same page of the report that:

The most recent Home Office analysis (2003) estimated that up to 4,000 women in the UK had
been trafficked for sexual exploitation and that the UK market for sexual exploitation was worth
up to £275 million.

So, adding in one additional piece of information from the same page, we find that in 2006, the Home Office estimated that there were 80,000 people involved in prostitution in the UK in a market valued at an estimated £1 billion (based on figures calculated by an economist and published in 2005) and in that market in 2003, according to another Home Office estimate, 4,000 trafficked women (5% of the number involved in prostitution) may have accounted for £275 million of the market value, a estimated market share of 27.5%.

No, sorry – those number just don’t wash.

And so…

If you’ve got this far then you won’t be at all surprised to find that – at the risk of offending a few people – I have but two conclusions to offer…

1. The claim, in the Home Office’s report that:

“The aim of the Review was to establish a firm evidence base on the nature of the demand for
prostitution to enable the most effective actions to be identified.”

…is, at best, an indication that the review has failed to meet one of its key objects in the most abject fashion possible and, at worst, an outright lie, and

2. This entire review has been hijacked by a unrepresentative group of feminist ideologues whose dubious ‘contributions’ to the policy making process demonstrate a complete and utter disregard for the most basic standards of academic research.

The government isn’t making law here, its participating in a socialogical experiment devised by a small and increasingly unrepresentative clique of feminist ideologues who’ve more or less successfully, thus far, hijacked the entire review process on the back of manifestly inadequate and fraudulent ‘research’ none of which provides any evidence to substantiate the proposition that criminalising the demand side of prostitution will have any overall effect in reducing the number of women involved in the sex trade.

Footnote…

While researching this article I ran across a fascinating paper by by three Spanish academics on economic and compartative law approaches to regulating prostitution which neatly highlights the pervasive nature of Ekberg’s fraudulent paper.

To give a very brief summary of the contents, what that paper suggests is that there are no sound economic arguments for prohibiting high value, top of the market, prostitution, that brothels are best legalised but with stringent regulations and policing to minimise negative externalities, such as trafficking, while ‘house prostitution’ should also be legal as this has relatively few risks or negative externalities.

When it comes, however, to street prostitution, which is high in risks and negative externalities and, therefore, has the strongest case for some form of prohibition, the report notes that:

We think there is no clear optimal legal policy with respect to street prostitution. We may cautiously recommend, in general terms, prohibition with sanctions only on the demand side as one alternative to deal with the negative externalities raised by street prostitution. Resources from the prosecution of other types of prostitution would then be freed to should be employed instead on police enforcement policies directed against clients and pimps in order to deter street prostitution. As noted before, this model has been implemented, apparently with some degree of success in Sweden –as an overall legal strategy against all kind of prostitution, however-, and it could be adopted, more narrowly, only for street prostitution.

The irony being that the arguments they set out for ‘adapting’ the Swedish model to deal only with street prostitution provide a far more accurate assessment of the actual effect that the Swedish system has had one prostitution than Ekberg’s paper, which the government and others have been drooling over…

It is true that such a policy would be somewhat more complex to implement than the pure Swedish model, thus decreasing somewhat the deterrent effect of sanctions. But the goals would be easier to accomplish, because the social objective would not be the entire eradication of prostitution as an activity, but merely to discourage street prostitution and its negative side-effects, may be channelling a portion –even a significant portion- to other segments of the prostitution market (such as house prostitution or a brothel) where they can carry out their occupation in more decent conditions, and where those effects are mostly absent.

Chalk one up for the economists….

  • Comrade, where can I adopt one of these ‘Swedish models’?

    Sorry, couldn’t resist it.

  • the A&E Charge Nurse

    Research……….. about prostitution: why does this immediately conjure up images of Peter Sellers playing a mad Viennese psycho-analyst in an ill fitting black wig ?

    Look at Ben (“Bad Science”) Goldacres take on the many pitfalls encountered in medical research – this, despite the fact most studies seek to prove/refute a narrow, well defined set of questions.
    The exact methodology also has to be made explicit otherwise there would be no prospect of replication, neither would any self respecting journal be willing to touch it without such background data being made available.

    In short a rigorous tradition has been established yet it can still be very difficult to claim (with absolute confidence) that drug A is better than an existing treatment, say – even though medics already have a gargantuan data base which permits meta-analysis, etc, etc.
    Imagine that clever medics not knowing if ‘treatment A’ is better than ‘treatment B’.

    Now compare this with the quality of research put before us.
    First we have the NZ experience – will the findings of the Kiwi’s automatically replicate themselves on the streets of Manchester or Bristol (assuming the study is robust enough in the first place).
    Then we have the American study, a country with very high murder rates anyway (which may or may not be related to the fact everybody is tooled up to the eyeballs with the latest automatic weapon).
    Finally we have Sweden, the country with the highest suicide rate in Europe [I think] – I have no idea if this unenviable stat predates their new sex laws ?

    Ultimately I think this comes down to trust since any research methodology on prostitution will (eventually) be found wanting, mainly because of the incalculable variables associated with complex human interactions.
    And these differences may magnify exponentially depending on which country we are talking about.
    Can we generalise findings about prostitution in South Africa to China, say [since international theme has already been established].

    So who do we believe is the most reliable ?
    A mouthpiece for a failing government or a sex obsessed Viennese analyst………….mmmmh.

  • Of all the evidence, the NZ study is the best researched and evidenced and the country is the most similar in terms of culture and legal system, so I’d be looking at it as the starting point and using its methodologies as a basis for UK-centric research.

  • redpesto

    Unity – your post does exactly what I wish I had more time for: the research and refutation of much of the pro-criminalisation arguments. There is a long and sad history of anti-sex-work feminists acting as ‘gatekeepers’ on policy-making re. prostitution, of which Julie Bindel’s involvement on ‘Big Brothel’ is just the latest example (indeed, you could also argue that the Guardian’s ‘line’ on this issue has also been hijacked by her, given the number of articles she gets into print). Likewise, I don’t think the govt. looked at New Zealand, probably because they didn’t want to consider a ‘legalised’ model.

    Second, so much of the position of the ‘antis’ is based on what is considered ‘normal’ sex, as well as an erroneous feminist belief that sexual behaviour is a subset of gender politics. Yet if that is so, is (for example) anal sex an act of resistance to patriarchal ideas of female modesty, or an attempt to emulate (or submit to) ‘male’ forms of sexual behaviour? (See Gayle Rubin, ‘Thinking Sex’ – well worth a read if you haven’t done so) The problem with MacTaggart and the rest is the root of their objection always seems to shift from the sex, to the money, to the fact that it’s a man paying a woman, to the shroud-waving of trafficked women as a means of winning the argument.

    Third, doesn’t the Sexual Offences Act already cover the scenario where consent cannot be given because of the threat from a third party?

    Lastly, have you had a chance to look at the Home Office paper yet? Smith’s gone on record as arguing that a man would still be prosecuted if a prostitute had lied to his face when asked about not being ‘trafficked’. Also, the lack of clarity in the terms ‘pimp’, ‘controlled for someone else’s gain’ and ‘trafficked’ is only surprising if one hasn’t followed the sloppy practices of the Home Office in general, and New Labour in particular.

  • Great stuff Unity.

    The piece by MacTaggart on Cif was just staggeringly bad. As I said in the comments, just about every line was a misrepresentation, a logical non-sequitor, a straw man or a downright falsehood.

    There’s another issue you don’t touch on, which is the question of what is meant by ‘trafficked’ women. Laura Agustin has done some brilliant work on this recently. Most people assume that ‘trafficked’ prostitutes are kidnapped, raped and coerced, when it seems that in reality the vast majority know full well what they were doing and chose sex work quite consciously over the wide variety of other exploitative employments on offer to (mostly illegal) migrants. Doesn’t make it pretty or glamorous, but it is a very different picture to the one conjured by MacTaggart et al.

    http://www.nodo50.org/Laura_Agustin/the-sex-in-sex-trafficking

  • Oh, and just to add… the other real nonsense in this new law is that in order to prosecute a punter, the police will have to prove that the woman he has had sex with was trafficked or controlled by a third party.

    Both trafficking and pimping are already criminal offences, so if the police can get enough proof that a prostitute has been trafficked or pimped to prosecute a client – why don’t they just go straight to source and prosecute the traffickers and pimps?

  • Labour’s plans will soon make it all so much easier for the average John.

    “How much? Oh, that sounds quite reasonable. You have a condom, you say? Jolly good. Oh, just one more thing, miss. May I see you ID card before we proceed to the darkened alleyway? Just as a precaution, you understand.”

  • Another tour de force Unity. Working on the supply side would perhaps be a better route to protecting the Great British Blowjob. But is the GBB all that? Perhaps some of Guido’s window lickers could come over and provide a commentary on that? Overnight they’ve been inviting me to fellate them. Which ain’t going to happen. They have diseases.

  • Stephen Paterson

    One might add that I’ve seen a London study referred to that shows that 60% of violence to prostitutes is not at the hands of clients at all, but from family members, “pimps”, the state (which on occasion removes prostitutes’ children) and – a very common category – strangers attacking street prostitutes.

    Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper” was not a punter but a prohibitionist like Mactaggert, famously telling his brother after the case that he was “just cleaning up the streets, our kid.”

    The undoubtedly high rate of murder and violence to prostitutes needs to be compared to the rates in the areas in which they take place, rather than the population as a whole, if the figures are to be meaningful. Also I would suspect that the violence and murder rates would be much lower in the indoor market.

  • Gordon

    Thank you for a very well written argument. I agree with the earlier post – I wish I had the time and knowledge to research and argue against many of the ideoligical arguements that are wrapped up in false data. It’s my first time on your site (link from Mrs Dale) but I shall be back regularly.

  • Pingback: Dr Petra Boynton I Blog I New prostitution proposals will place sex workers at risk()

  • Fergus

    Having some involvement with agencies who have dealings in this area, the only conclusion I can draw on the current law around prostitution is that it is a complete mess. That said, there is no point in legislating to make the mess worse. I’d already reached the conclusion that these proposals would do just that, and your well thought-through analysis just reinforces my view.

    I am undecided about legalisation (or de-criminalisation), but so much of what is said by people in supposedly responsible positions merely muddies the waters, rather than providing any clarity. There was a Home Office consultation on many aspects of prostitution about 18 months or 2 years ago. As far as I can remember, the proposals now being made were NOT reflected in that consultation, so what was the point of it?

  • tom

    heroin makes prostitutes.
    i knew 1! her nickname was creature.
    she got paid in smack and shagged some guy in a graveyard!
    shes living happily on the dole+child support+skag nowadays…what a happy ending.
    this is all in a small cambridgeshire village.