Sex workers are often spoken about and for, but rarely are they given the opportunity to speak for themselves.
“Decriminalisation would mean that we have an equal playing field. If we are attacked when working we can report it the same as if we are attacked in the home. I’m sick of hearing the police tell women “if you don’t like it then go home”. I want some rights at work. I want to complain about my boss trying to get free sex, I want to be able to refuse a client if he won’t use a condom. Decriminalisation would mean I could insist on some rights and that would make a big difference to how safe and well I feel at work.” Amy
“One of the main triggers for my partner’s violence against me as a teenager was the fact that I was doing sex work. I’ve ended up with a bleeding mouth and bruises on my neck because I was a “dirty whore”. The disgust he felt actually felt legitimate to me and that was because it matched the way society talked about me. Decriminalisation would have concrete benefits – like safety on the job and not getting a criminal record – but if it helps break down stigma, that’s huge. The violence sex workers experience at work and outside it is 100% down to the fact that prostitution is seen as dirty and disgusting. Backing decriminalisation doesn’t mean you back the sex industry, it means you back the women working in it.” Becky
“The big thing for me is that decriminalisation would mean that I could work with my friends for safety. There are just so many benefits to it: not feeling isolated, being able to talk to and support each other, but also in safety in numbers. When I was receiving death threats from an ex client and was terrified to work, I wished then more than ever that I wouldn’t have to fear repercussions for inviting another worker to help me feel safe.” Jasmine
“As a parent I am at risk of more violence from the state than I am from my clients – in fact, state violence in the form of benefit cuts and sanctions are what pushed me into sex work in the first place. Violent clients are a sad reality, but what would change that – and provide a real deterrent to bad clients – would be a policy framework that allows me to screen robustly, and report violence without fear of arrest, or of losing my children.” Cora