An open letter calling on MPs to oppose further criminalisation of sex work has received over 150 signatures. Organisations such as Amnesty International, Liberty, Freedom United, Stonewall and Sisters Uncut have added their support to the sex worker-led call, as have unions including GMB and United Voices of the World, and celebrities including FKA Twigs.
The open letter, spearheaded by Decrim Now, asks that MPs take an evidence-based approach to the sex industry, rejecting further criminalisation and listening to sex workers.
There are repeated and ongoing attempts to introduce criminalisation of the purchase of sex (a form of legislation sometimes known as the Nordic Model) across the UK. Similar legislation already exists in Northern Ireland. Most recently, Labour MP Diana Johnson called for amendments to the already troubling Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill. Johnson is calling for the criminalisation of the purchase of sex and for the websites on which sex workers advertise to be made illegal. While Johnson claims these measures will combat sex trafficking, the evidence suggests otherwise.
Evidence documented in the open letter shows that these measures will only exacerbate violence against women. You can read the open letter in full, and add your name as a signatory, here.
“Evidence shows that the criminalisation approach leaves sex workers – most of whom are women – at greater risk of violence and exploitation, with the most marginalised at highest risk. We stand in solidarity with sex workers and all those who oppose this approach.” – Sam Grant, Liberty head of policy and campaigns
“Freedom United supports the call on the U.K. government to decriminalize sex work as a strategy to build resilience to trafficking for sexual exploitation. We are concerned by extensive evidence collected by experts on sex work and trafficking that points to the Nordic Model having little to no impact on effectively tackling sex trafficking while leaving sex workers at greater risk of trafficking and violence, and disempowered to seek support from authorities for themselves or others they’re concerned about.” – Joanna Ewart-James, Executive Director, Freedom United
“LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected by the criminalisation of sex work. Stonewall are listening to the voices of the sex workers in our community, and we will continue to fight to make sure that all LGBTQ people are safe at work, wherever they work.” – Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive, Stonewall
“It feels important to speak out when sex workers ask us to listen. I stand in solidarity with the sex workers calling on MPs to reject further criminalisation of their work. We know it is the most marginalised – often people of colour and trans people – who bear the brunt of repressive policing.” – FKA Twigs
“I ask my colleagues to listen to sex workers, and to look at the evidence: criminalisation of the sex industry – including the criminalisation of the purchase of sex – will hurt the most vulnerable. Sex workers, particularly those from already marginalised groups, need workplace rights, access to benefits, housing and safe migration routes; not further enforcement from the police.”– Nadia Whittome, Labour MP for Nottingham East
“We stand against gender-based violence in all its forms, which means we stand against the Nordic Model. Sisters Uncut are in full solidarity with sex workers, who will face further violence from both individuals and the state if the Nordic Model is introduced in the UK.” – Sisters Uncut
“We believe this is a crucial issue for the trade union movement and basic labour rights. It is impossible for unionised sex workers to organise their workspaces if they are criminalised; any form of criminalisation makes it more difficult to fight exploitative bosses.” – United Voices of the World
“I’ve been a sex worker for almost 10 years and have held back from reporting abusive clients because I’m worried I’d be arrested myself. If criminalisng clients increases violence against sex workers like me then why is this evidence being ignored by MPs? How do they justify not listening to sex workers when we say we are harmed by criminalisation?” – Abby, sex worker, London