Like any human being, I watched the documentary Hunted with an open mouth and an increasing horror. I also watched it whilst trying to quieten the several fireworks going off in my head at once. The similarities between homosexuals' rights in Russia and sex workers' rights in the UK/Ireland are breath taking.
Yesterday the European Parliament backed measures which have been rejected as a violation of basic human rights by Amnesty, Human Rights Watch and UNAIDS. Mary Honeyball MEP's report advocating the criminalisation of the purchase of sex were widely criticised... Despite the overwhelming evidence Ms. Honeyball charged ahead on a moral crusade to eradicate sex work at whatever cost.
A carefully orchestrated campaign to criminalise the buyer of sexual services is set to be centre staged this year. Emotions, prejudice, feminism, ideology and religion are creating a vortex, and revolving at its centre is the question as to whether selling and purchasing sexual services is right or wrong. Where are the rights of sex workers in this debate, have they been consulted and has their voice been heard?
However uncomfortable we may be with the continued existence of prostitution, it is far more unsettling to imagine some of the city's most vulnerable women forced onto the streets, due to the misplaced objectives of a city council which believes that it is capable of eradicating an industry as old as Jesus Christ.
Dozens of university students in York have turned to sex work as they struggle to fund their degrees, as revealed by Nouse. As many as 30 students in York are operating as escorts, and eight agencies in the area were able to provide student escorts. One agency said they had up to seven students available.
Each year the cost of living as a student goes up, with rent rates being hiked by landlords hoping to scratch a living and the fear of overdraft fees, not to mention the prospect of up to £53,000 of debt looming once you leave University, it's not surprising that an ever increasing number of students are turning to sex work as a way to make money quickly - cash in hand that will fit around a busy schedule of studying and socialising... The work that these students are doing isn't simply prostitution, with many turning to stripping on webcam services and working as lap dancers and strippers.
Despite being the poster nation for sexual equality, Sweden's laws on sex work and attitudes towards it are woefully patriarchal. The purchase of sex is illegal and the prevailing view is that sex work is a form of self-harm and women who choose to work in the sex industry are victims without agency or reason.
Criminals often target sex workers and other 'hate crime' groups, before moving on to the wider public. Two of the most notorious serial killers Peter Sutcliffe and Gary Leon Ridgway initially murdered sex workers before targeting other women. So if we can get sex workers to report crimes, everyone gains.
People don't want to see the world for what it is; they spend their lives pretending things are otherwise. Prostitution cracks the veneer, its actuality threatens to break the artificial limits our lives already, silently, secretly, and shamefully transcend, but people want to brush such confessions into the corner, under the carpet.