I can see why the BDSM community are up in arms. Here is a man who stalks his victim with a degree of fortitude that it's hard not to feel some begrudging sense of awe. He knows her bank details, in fact he has a built an entire file on her and flies out to interrupt a holiday with her parents, checking in to the same hotel as she's enjoying cocktails with her mother.
The reporting of this tragedy has been almost exclusively focussed on how the two women were purportedly sex workers, although Hong Kong police have not said as much. The killings are immediately characterised as American Psycho-style murders, giving them an aura of glamour. And predictably, within hours of his arrest, there was another woman in Jutting's life to cast blame on.
Supporters of Lord Morrow's Bill eliminated from their agenda the safety of the very women they claim are vulnerable. They attempted to defame those who do not back the criminalisation of the purchase of sex as supporters of sex trafficking in order to undermine their arguments. They should have properly examined the available evidence and consulted with those to whom the legislation applies: sex workers themselves.
As a full-time journalist I'm constantly exposed to the shitty, bleak side of life. As a result, I've learned not to sentimentalise and that certainly benefits me in this role. Because there is no point in breaking down in tears while a sex worker tells you she has been raped or robbed or both. It doesn't help. What I can do is empathise. Provide a hug. Organise immediate, practical assistance such as food, clothes, medical care or arrange police intervention. Violence against sex workers is a huge problem and this is exacerbated by the fact that selling sex is, after all, illegal.
If Blackstone's Formulation is based on the principle that the state should not cause undue or mistaken harm then we need to seriously consider the harm to victims of rape and sexual assault who are subjected to an horrendous ordeal and then tragically failed by a system which allows them to be discredited and humiliated in the name of justice and all too often their courage in coming forward turns out to be in vain.
Most people are voiceless because no one is letting them talk or listening to them when they do. There is a lot to be said for quitting being the voice of the voiceless and letting people speak for themselves. But not by those seeking to abolish the sex trade. Words are put into people's mouths when they can be, and when they can't, those people are silenced and dismissed.
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.