Sex Work Research Hub Department of Social Policy and Social Work University of York
York, YO10 5DD
Leeds City Council Civic Hall Leeds, LS1 1UR
10th November 2018
To the Committee Members of Leeds City Council,
This is a White Paper from the Sex Work Research Hub (SWRH) concerning the managed approach to street sex work in the Holbeck district of Leeds.
About the SWRH: The Sex Work Research Hub connects researchers and academics across a range of Universities and disciplines, working on sex work, sex working and sexual exploitation, throughout the UK (including members in Yorkshire/Leeds) and internationally. We also connect with sex workers, sex work support projects and other stakeholders, such as healthcare providers, lawyers, police, policy makers, educationalists, to support and develop research that produces new knowledge, critiques dominant discourses on sex work, as well as delivering tangible public benefit and impact. SWRH is committed to the development of policy and service provision based on evidence.
Support for the managed area: we have supported Leeds City Council’s pioneering ‘managed approach’ to street sex work since its pilot in 2014. As a research hub we have supported this because the council and its partners have taken an evidence-based approach, monitoring the initial pilot and ongoing policy and practice. Leeds City Council has demonstrated compassion, innovation, and good working practices in its efforts to build better relations with the vulnerable women selling sex on the streets and to include them as members of the community, reflecting Leeds City Councils commitment to be a compassionate city.
Beneficial outcomes of the managed area:
1: Increased reporting and safety:
Research shows that the approach has contributed to improving the safety of sex workers in Leeds. A large body of UK and international evidence shows that street sex face high levels of targeted violent (including sexual violence and murder) and other targeted crimes Deering et al. 2014, Kinell 2008, Cunningham et al. 2017). Research has highlighted that key reasons for targeted violence against sex workers is stigmatisation, the criminalisation of sex work, and a lack of protection from criminal justice for sex workers (Lancet 2015, Deering et al 2014) . This results in a poor relationship between sex workers and the police, with low levels of reporting of crimes by street sex workers to the police (Campbell 2018). This leaves offenders to operate with impunity, committing crimes against sex workers and other community members, often with their offending escalating (Kinnell 2008).
Prior to the managed approach, Leeds had the lowest levels of reporting in the UK (Brown and Moore 2014). Since the adoption of the managed approach, when an initial valuation was carried out (Sanders and Sembhi 2015) sex workers in Leeds were six times more likely to report violent crime than they were in 2013, Basis data for 2017 shows this trend has continued and Leeds is now one of the areas of the UK with a relatively higher level of reporting. The MA has involved a focus on safety, providing a space where street sex workers can work without fear of arrest, building trust and confidence in the police through the sex work liaison officer and the wider local policing team. As such, we are extremely concerned that if the managed approach was suspended such progress would be jeopardised.
2: A move away from the failure of ineffective polices in Leeds which criminalised sex workers and their clients:
We urge councillors to remember that the managed approach was introduced after almost 15 years of enforcement with police crackdown after police crackdown on sex workers and their clients failing to reduce either supply or demand for sexual services in Leeds. The ‘Leeds Kerb Crawler Rehabilitation Programme’ (1998) initially ran for one year, then again in 2004 and closed amid concerns that it was not working and forced sex workers away from the police and support services. While ‘Acceptable Behaviour Contracts’ (2004), the ‘Prostitution Intervention Team’ (2005), Operation Crow (2006), Operation Demijohn (2007), and Operation Dairy (2011) all targeted street sex workers and their clients in Holbeck. Despite these initiatives, police reports from 2004 to 2014 estimate that there remained between 150 and 200 street sex workers soliciting in the Holbeck area. The financial costs of these to the public purse have not been calculated but would have been considerable. Furthermore, under these schemes, nine sex workers were murdered in Leeds and the surrounding areas, and another two were victims of attempted murder.
3: Improved access to support for vulnerable women, complex multi layered needs and access to support for street sex workers:
There is a large body of over thirty years research on female street sex work in the UK, including studies in Leeds (Basis Needs Assessment 2015) which shows that women involved in street sex work are amongst the most socially marginalised, vulnerable women in society with multi-layered and complex needs. As noted UK and international research shows that criminalisation of street sex work creates barriers to accessing support services and the United Nations, Amnesty International, and the World Health Organisation advocate for decriminalised approaches to enable access to support.
The managed area has provided a climate within which sex workers are much more likely to engage in outreach for longer periods of time and to access wider support provided by services (Sanders 2015) to address underlying issues such as drug and alcohol addiction, homelessness/other housing issues, involvement in the criminal justice system, poor mental and physical health, access to benefits, immigration matters, poverty, support around historic abuse, sexual or domestic violence.
There is an established body of research and practice guidance which identifies good practice in the provision of health and welfare support services for street sex workers, including support to exit/‘transition’ from sex work provisions (WHO 2013, Paramjit et al 2013, Jeal and Salisbury 2007, Pitcher 2006). Street sex workers have been identified as a socially excluded group, with a range of support needs, who face structural barriers in accessing health and support services. Sex workers require bespoke, confidential, targeted, provisions (WHO 2013, Paramjit et al 2013, Jeal and Salisbury 2007). Various UK government funded research projects, practice guidance initiatives and reviews have identified the need for holistic support for street sex workers (spanning prevention, harm reduction and transition/exit support), with specialist outreach and support services as a key bridge between sex workers and mainstream services, utilising outreach, drop in and case work approaches, working in partnership to address all areas of need, working to offer low threshold service which can be accessed at any point (Hester and Westmorland 2006, Home Office 2011, Paramjit et al 2013)
The recession, austerity, cuts in public funding for heath/social care and policing, and the recession have all impacted the managed approach in terms of both routes into street sex work and the capacity of stakeholders to contribute, and it seems very important to recognise this. Funding is required improve elements of the approach which have been highlighted as requiring enhancement (or at the very least a recognition of these restrictions) for example: policing for safety, street cleansing, CCTV and other safety measures, capacity for monitoring, ongoing community liaison,/mediation and increased holistic support service capacity for prevention, harm reduction and transition/exit support. Platt et al (2016) in the British Medical Journal have highlighted how cuts in public health services, such as the specialist holistic outreach and support services which are a key part of this best practice, have been significantly eroded in the UK. The largest specialist support service for sex workers in Leeds, Basis, has experienced year on year reductions in statutory funding for its core services (sexual health and safety). Basis has proactively applied for and been successful in gaining a range of chartable trust funds to maintain it services and to further develop best practice elements, but with funding often short term growth has been limited and funding has not been at a level to meet the range and depth of needs. Alongside this, many of the fast track and other best practice arrangements (e.g. into drugs and alcohol, domestic violence, sexual health and sexual violence support services offered in partnership with other services have been cut or reduced). Furthermore, there has been an increase in the numbers of migrant sex workers in street sex work across the UK. This has occurred during the period the managed area has been in place, rather than being a result of the managed approach. Basis were already flagging the emergent needs of migrants on the streets prior to the managed approach. Migrant sex workers bring additional support needs and no additional funding has been provided for Basis locally to put in place the initiatives and approaches identified as good practice for working with migrant sex workers.
One area of consensus in Leeds across all stakeholders may be that support should be provided to address safety, health and welfare needs of sex workers, including support to transition/exit sex work at a level to reach more people and have increased effectiveness.
We urge a review of funding for specialist sex work support projects in Leeds and for fast tracking and low threshold services and other established good practice for mainstream services working in partnership with specialist, to enable earlier access to interventions and access to services at any point of need (Hester and Westmorland 2006). Assessment of whether funding is adequate should consider level of needs in Leeds and comparison with investment in other towns & cities. For example, some groups in Leeds are advocating for polices adopted in Ipswich following the murders of five sex workers which it is claimed lead to a reduction in street sex work. The focus on those calling for such an approach has been on targeting the customers of street sex workers, with less emphasis on other elements of the approach. Specifically, Ipswich invested heavily in holistic support for sex workers, with investment in a large specialist team and investment in investment in coordinated provisions and resources for sex workers in a range of mainstream services such as drugs and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation schemes, mental health services, welfare benefits, debt management, housing schemes and options services and initiatives specifically for street sex workers. This investment was considerable, and the street sex work population was much smaller than in Leeds. Leeds would need to scale up investment and commit to such investment at a time of reduced resources. We support and strongly recommend an investment in support services for vulnerable women with complex needs, but there needs to be openness and transparency about what can be realistically provided.
5: Reducing impact on residential communities:
Initial evaluation and monitoring of the managed area found that complaints from residents had reduced. The managed approach was adapted with the objectives of both reducing residential impacts and to improving the safety of sex workers and access to services. In cities and towns where street sex work takes place (including those with official or unofficial managed areas) the balance of the safety, welfare and rights of sex workers with those of local residents in the policies and approaches they adopt, is one of the key ongoing challenges.
A national study funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which remains the most in-depth study of community responses to street sex work in the UK, found variation as to whether residents felt impacted or not by street sex work in their area and identified a range of specific impacts for those who felt they were. Community responses to street sex work varied from proactive tolerance/support with active sympathy and engagement with the needs of women involved in street sex work to ‘modest tolerance’ to ‘proactive intolerance’ with action to displace sex workers them from the area and little sympathy for sex workers welfare and safety. Researchers have highlighted how those in the latter category can form vociferous campaigning groups and are a voice that should be heard but so should be alternative perspectives within communities who are often less heard O’Neill and Campbell 2006, Hubbard 1999). The JRF report (Pitcher et al 2005) recommended local multi agency partnerships include all residential perspectives and experiences and develop multi layered approaches to street sex work which balance sex workers safety and welfare and community impacts, using community liaison and mediation approaches.
In the Home Office evaluation of ‘Tackling street prostitution what works initiatives’ Hester and Westmorland (2006), found that community mediation and liaison initiatives have been much more successful than enforcement initiatives, whether targeted at street sex workers or their customers - which were found to lead to dispersal and displacement of street sex work, which impacted detrimentally on access to support.
That there remain some impacts for residents, businesses and safety issues for sex workers is not a reason to suspend the area, particularly without a detailed alternative approach. Indeed, to do so could take Leeds back to the position it was in prior to the approach and some of the issues raised by those who are currently critiquing the approach could be heightened.
6: Inclusive multi stakeholder approach and consultation
Leeds City Council and wider partners in Safer Leeds need to initiate inclusive consultation with, sex workers, support groups, residents, businesses, police, researchers local councillors and, key council departments to explore key issues and action planning, before any further decision is made. The adoption of a community liaison/development approach to support this work would bring capacity to progress community liaison, consultation, mediation and problem-solving work. This role would complement the ongoing work of the police sex work liaison officer role whose focus is on encouraging reporting by sex workers of crimes committed against them, supporting investigations and addressing wider public safety concerns and the work of outreach and support services.
Whilst we recognise specific challenges facing Leeds council in sustaining the managed approach, if the scheme is suspended the women working in the managed area will not simply vanish, the wider socio-economic factors that shape peoples involvement in street sex work for example; inequality, poverty, problematic drug and alcohol use remain.
We are of the view that the proposal that the manged approach should be suspended being discussed on 14th November if supported will; be a regressive step, will erode sex worker safety, create an adverse climate for access to support, will further marginalise street sex workers and will not address the impacts of street sex work some residents and businesses express concern about.
Sent on behalf of the Sex Work Research Hub by.
Dr Rosie Campbell OBE (University of York, Co-Chair of SWRH and Dr Kate Lister (Leeds Trinity University, Board member SWRH)
SWRH board members: Professor Maggie O’Neill (University of York), Professor Teela, Sanders (University of Leicester), Dr Rosie Campbell (University of York), Dr Kate Lister (Leeds Trinity University), Professor Nick Mai (Kingston University), Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon (University College Birbeck), Dr Laura Connelly (University of Salford), Dr Alison Jobe (University of Durham), Rachel Stuart (University of Kent) Dr Nicola Smith (University of Birmingham), Deborah Jones (University of Swansea).
 Deering, K., Amin, A., Shoveller, J. Nesbitt, A., Garcia-Moreno, C.,Duff, P., Argento, A. And Shannon, K. (2014) ‘A systematic review of the correlates of violence against sex workers’, American Journal of Public Health, 104(5): e42-e54.
 Kinnell, H. (2008) Violence and Sex Work in Britain, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.
 Cunningham, S et al (2018) Sex work and occupational homicide: an analysis of a UK murder database, Homicide Studies, Volume: 22 issue: 3, page(s): 321-338.
 Lancet (2015) Special edition HIV and Sex Work, 385: 9962. http://thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(14)61064-3.pdf Kinnell, H. (2008) Violence and Sex Work in Britain, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.
 Kinnell, H. (2008) Violence and Sex Work in Britain, Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.
 Brown, K. and Moore, J (2014) Prostitution in Leeds: preliminary scoping research, University of York/Safer Leeds. https://www.york.ac.uk/media/spsw/documents/research-and-publications/Brown-Moore-2014-Prostitution-In-Leeds-Scoping-Research-Executive-Summary.pdf
 Sanders, T and Sehmbi, B (2015) Evaluation of the Leeds Street Sex Working Managed Areahttp://www.nswp.org/sites/nswp.org/files/Executive%20Summary%20Leeds,%20U%20of%20Leeds%20-%20Sept%202015.pdf
 WHO/UNFPA/ UNAIDS (2013) Implementing comprehensive HIV/STI programmes with sex workers practical approaches from collaborative interventions, World Health Organisation. Jeal, N and Salisbury, C. (2007) ‘Health needs of sex workers’ BJOG: an International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, 114(7):875-8. Paramjit, G., MacLeod, U, Lester, H. and Hegenbarth, A. (2013) Improving access to health care for Gypsies and Travellers, homeless people and sex workers: An evidence-based commissioning guide for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health & Wellbeing Boards, Royal College of General Practitioners, Inclusion Health & University of Birmingham. file:///C:/Users/Rosie%20Campbell/Downloads/RCGP-Social-Inclusion-Commissioning-Guide.pdf Pitcher, J (2006) Support Services for Sex Workers, in Campbell, R. and O’Neill, M. (2006) Sex Work Now, Willan Publishing: Culumpton.
 Hester, M. and Westmarland, N. (2004) ‘Tackling street prostitution: towards an holistic approach’, Home Office Research Study 279, London: Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office.
 Home Office (2011) A Review of Effective Practice in Responding to Prostitution, London: Home Office.
 Paramjit, G., MacLeod, U, Lester, H. and Hegenbarth, A. (2013) Improving access to health care for Gypsies and Travellers, homeless people and sex workers: An evidence-based commissioning guide for Clinical Commissioning Groups and Health & Wellbeing Boards, Royal College of General Practitioners, Inclusion Health & University of Birmingham. file:///C:/Users/Rosie%20Campbell/Downloads/RCGP-Social-Inclusion-Commissioning-Guide.pdf
 Grenfell, P., Eastham, J., Perry, G., Platt, L. (2016) ‘Decriminalising sex work in the UK: cutting support services will jeopardise health benefits of proposed decriminalisation’, British Medical Journal, 16th August 2016.
 Pitcher et al. (2005) Living and working in areas of street sex work, Joseph Rowntree Foundation. https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/living-and-working-areas-street-sex-work
 O’Neill, M. and Campbell, R. (2006) ‘Street sex work and local communities: Creating discursive space for genuine consultation and inclusion’, in R. Campbell and M. O’Neill (eds) Sex Work Now, 33-61. Cullompton, Devon: Willan Publishing.
Hubbard, P. (1999) Sex and the City: geographies of prostitution in the urban west, London: Ashgate.
 Hester, M. and Westmarland, N. (2004) ‘Tackling street prostitution: towards an holistic approach’, Home Office Research Study 279, London: Development and Statistics Directorate, Home Office.
Call for Papers – Deadline Thursday November 1st 2018
The Sex, Work, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network (CRN#6) seeks submissions for the Law and Society Association Annual Meeting
Washington, DC: May 30 – June 2, 2019
The Sex, Work, Law and Society Collaborative Research Network would like to invite you to participate in panels and other sessions at the Law and Society Conference in Washington, DC. This CRN seeks to broaden the conversation on sex work by bridging it with considerations of issues relating to sex in labour contexts, bringing together socio-legal scholars and experts to examine the intersections of sex, work and law. For more information about our CRN, please visithttp://www.lawandsociety.org/crn.html#6. Information about the Law and Society meeting is available at http://www.lawandsociety.org
The theme of the 2019 meeting is Dignity. We interpret the meeting theme as an opportunity to explore issues such as: dignity in the context of labour conditions and labour rights; dignity as a precursor to access to justice and equality; dignity as a necessary component of civic inclusion; dignity in the context of sex workers’ rights movements and other social justice mechanisms; dignity in discourse (public, academic, and policy realms) related to sex work; and dignity as a basis for the use of law to demand respect for sex workers. The theme of meeting could also be interpreted to include discussion about the construction of ‘dignity’ itself as a potentially exclusionary term, requiring a ‘politeness’ and bringing to mind delineations of ‘proper’ behaviour and moral infusion into law. Whose definition of dignity should we employ? Should dignity be used to limit autonomous decision-making around labour? How should we distinguish between dignified labour conditions and undignified labour conditions and how should we respond to the latter situations? How do we document and measure dignity as it relates to sex, work, and the law within the current political economy? And how should we respond when law is used in brutally ‘undignified’ ways, to contribute to oppression, or sustain inequality? Further, given current 'crimmigration’ policies, the conflation of sex industry work and trafficking, tiered citizenship and residency laws, how should we call attention to the dignity of those in precarious and irregular migration contexts?
In light of how dignity has been problematized, participants are encouraged to consider the role and limits of law to respond to ideological, moral, or other politicized conceptualizations of ‘dignity.’ We invite scholarly presentations relating to the overall conference theme, and our CRN’s aims and scope. (Primary key words should include Sex, Work, Law and Society, secondary key words should come from the following list):
Access to Justice
Citizenship, Migration, and Refugee Studies
Class and Inequality
Economic and Social Rights
Economy, Business and Society
Gender and Sexuality
Labor and Employment
Policing, Law Enforcement
Race and Ethnicity
Race, Critical Race Research
Regulation, Reform, and Governance
Rights and Identities
Social Movements, Social Issues, and Legal Mobilization
Social Networks, Personal Relationships
Law and Society requires a 100-250-word abstract for paper presentations, and panel (salon) sessions, 100-200 word abstract for roundtable presentation to be submitted for conference presentation vetting. The deadline for submission to this CRN is NOVEMBER 1st 2018 5PM EST OR 10PM BST.
All proposals for paper presentations, panel (salon) sessions, roundtable discussions will be accepted through LSA’s automated submission system. You can find more details about the automated submission system here http://www.lawandsociety.org/WashingtonDC2019/2019-paper-session.html. When creating your submission, please be sure to select CRN 6 from the dropdown menu in order to be aligned with Sex, Work, Law and Society sessions.
If you wish to publicize your book through CRN 6 Author Meets Reader sessions, please submit the following to Menaka Raguparan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please email Menaka Raguparan at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns. We look forward to hosting you in Washington, DC. Tweet using #CRN6_DC2019.
Yesterday was a wonderful celebration of the three year Beyond the Gaze project and the launch of some fabulous resources developed with sex workers and our co-researchers. It was also Rosie Campbell’s last day on the project.
We were lucky to have Luca Stevenson from ICRSE speak about what’s happening in Europe and the new decrim now campaign.
Guidance and the safety resources, including information in Romanian and Portuguese, are available at: https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/practitioners/
Download Safety and Privacy Info resources are available at: https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/safety-info/
Safety and Privacy Tips for sex workers are available here: https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/safety-info/
We will be carrying on various, including the practitioner forum with the National Ugly Mugs.
Thanks all for your support in various ways along the three years. It has been such an amazing project to be involved in.
The Beyond the Gaze Team
by Kate Lister
Monday saw the publication of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prostitution and the Global Sex Trade’s report into sexual exploitation in England and Wales - the ominously titled ‘Behind Closed Doors’. If you skip to the endnotes section of this report that details ‘evidence collection’, you will see that APPG requested and received written evidence from numerous groups, including the Sex Work Research Hub - a network of 150 researchers and academics across a range of Universities and disciplines working on sex work, and sexual exploitation. As a board member of the Sex Work Research Hub I can confirm that the hub did indeed provide detailed data on so called ‘popup brothels’ and online sex work to the APPG, and I can also confirm that virtuously all of it was ignored in the final report itself. Data on sex work was also gathered from National Ugly Mugs, the English Collective of Prostitutes, SCOT-PEP, Beyond the Gaze, and Basis Yorkshire. The vast majority of which was ignored, or buried in the reference notes, in favour of a handful of case studies, cherrypicked or anecdotal evidence, and an aggressive anti sex work agenda.
We are looking for 2x research assistants for a short period -10 weeks- to help us develop the following.
Warm Greetings to all, Maggie, Rosie and Teela & on behalf of the SWRH Board.
Sex Work Research Hub Good Practice Guide: Sex work & participatory action research
Supported by UOY Sociology department research funds the SWRH led by Maggie O'Neill and Rosie Campbell are producing a Good Practice Research Resource [toolkit] to support the research community when conducting participatory action research and participatory arts research with sex workers. This will include a focus and guidance on research ethics.
We are seeking 2x RA's to work with us on this over a ten week period, ie., five weeks each or equivalent
The main tasks include:
a) contacting the 140 members in the Sex Work Research Hub for:
● examples of PAR/PA from their own empirical research;
● resources/readings that they use
● ethical issues, challenges and benefits/successes
● examples of challenges and benefits
b) collate the information
c) produce a report and 1st draft guidance
d) assist Professor O’Neill and Dr Campbell to prepare case studies from the research gathered and write the research resource/guidance for the academic community based on expertise in the hub
The RA's will be co-authors on the guidance.
Understanding and experience of PAR/PA
Ability to use online design tool/s e.g. Canva
Sex Work community experience.
Good communication skills and experience
Generic Research Skills to include literature review, structured interviewing, transcribing, thematic analysis.
Ability to work as a team.
Report design and writing.
The University is required to undertake a right to work check.
Applications in the form of a covering letter outlining fit to the criteria, previous experience and why you want the position and a CV to be sent to Maggie and Rosie at York, Dept Sociology, Wentworth College, University of York, York Yo10 5DD by Monday 4th June. OR by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
The successful candidates will be employed on a temporary contract by University of York at a rate of £10.75 per hour, for a maximum of 20 hours a week for the contract duration.'
Three New Board Members Needed
The Board of the Sex Work Research Hub is now some 150+ members strong, made up of mainly academic researchers but also practitioners engaged in researcher, sex work project members who do research and evaluation and students. In growing and moving beyond a mailing list, we would like to recruit TWO new Board members from our existing membership.
Roles: We are currently have roles related to membership (Teela Sanders); media and communication (Kate Lister, Raven Bowen, Nicki Smith); migrancy issues (Nick Mai); learning and teaching (Debbie Jones). We are keen to develop roles in
If you have experience in any of these roles or are keen to move these forward then this will be gratefully viewed. ECRs & practitioners involved in research are encouraged to apply.
Commitment: As a Board we commit a minimum of 4 hours a month to activities, including Board meeting attendance (remotely). We expect members to take an equal share in attending hub supported events and to be innovative in developing and organising events where possible. The commitment is a minimum one year, and has to reside in the UK during this time.
How to Apply: Please send a short cover note and CV, including the name of someone who is a hub member who will act as nominator. State clearly the role you are interested in. Please send this to Teela Sanders (email@example.com) by the 30th May.
Please note that there are no funds connected to the SWRH at present and Board membership is entirely based on pro bono assistance.
Our current Board are: Professor Maggie O’Neill, Dr Rosie Campbell OBE, Dr Nicki Smith, Raven Bowen, Professor Jane Scoular, Professor Nicola Mai, Debbie Jones, Dr Belinda Brooks Gordon, Professor Teela Sanders, Dr Kate Lister
We want to say a huge thank you for the support of Tracey Sagar and Mary Laing who have supported the hub from the early days.
With best wishes Board of SWRH
13th April, 2018
To the Women’s Equality Party,
This is an official complaint from the Sex Work Research Hub to the Women’s Equality Party, regarding the recent conduct of the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Sophie Walker.
The Sex Work Research Hub connects researchers and academics across a range of Universities and disciplines, working on sex work, sex working and sexual exploitation, around the world. We also connect with sex workers, sex work support projects and other stakeholders, such as healthcare providers, lawyers, police, policy makers, educationalists, youth and community workers, to support and develop research that produces new knowledge, critiques dominant discourses on sex work, as well as delivering tangible public benefit and impact.
We are deeply concerned with the recent online comments made by Sophie Walker around the issue of sex work, and how she has been engaging with sex workers on her personal Twitter account. As the leader of the Women’s Equality Party, Walker not only holds a position of significant power, but she acts as a mouthpiece for feminism today. Walker’s recent comments and articles have shown that she is very poorly informed about modern sex work and that her agenda is ideologically driven, rather than being informed by the sex worker voice or peer reviewed data.
The language that Walker uses ignores the preferred terminology of those in the sex industry, and shows that she has little respect for the autonomy and wishes of the sex work community. Using terms such as 'prostituted woman', conflating sex work with sex trafficking, and repeatedly referring to sex work as 'rape', reinforces the shame and stigma around sex work that sex worker rights groups work hard to challenge.