Media

Prostitution Legislation: Interrogating legal models

10 October 2017

Julie Bindel talk on how the law can shape and impact prostitution.

The debate about which legal and policy approaches work best to curb the problems inherent to the sex trade, including the increase in trafficking, has been raging for decades in the UK. On one side of the debate, ‘sex workers rights’ groups, supported by international human rights lobbies including Amnesty International, have advocated for the so-called ‘New Zealand’ model which provides for the full decriminalisation of all operational aspects of prostitution (including pimping, brothel keeping and all third party exploitation). However, feminists and others argue that such a model only increases the harm caused to those on the frontline and a growing movement of sex trade survivors have joined with others to advocate the 'Nordic model'. This is a legal framework by which sex buyers are criminalised, those selling sex are decriminalised and offered exit strategies, and the sex trade is viewed as a barrier to equality between men and women.

Which approach is best for the women (and men) in the sex trade, and for wider society?

Speakers include sex trade survivors Sabrinna Valisce, New Zealand/Australia, Bridget Perrier, Canada, and Ne'Cole Daniels, US, and legal experts including Karon Monaghan QC.

Tue 10 October 2017: 18:30 – 20:30 BST

Matrix Chambers
Griffin Building
Gray's Inn
WC1R 5LN
United Kingdom

  • "It might surprise you, but it can happen to anyone. No you’re not exempt. I wasn’t."
    - Marian Hatcher, Chicago, USA
  • "I was able to exit prostitution and rebuild my life, and with that my education became a tool. I was recognized for my tenacity and my strength and have been able now to be an asset to my community and to my people."
    - Bridget Perrier, Toronto, Canada
  • "Many people ask me, how did I get into prostitution, was I “trafficked” or was I a willing participant? What many don’t understand is - however we entered - what the act of prostitution does to us; how it slowly strips us of any semblance of ourselves, as we try to sell part of our bodies, while keeping our soul intact. Prostitution preys on the most vulnerable; it takes us places we never intended to go, all driven by those who feel entitled to pay for our bodies. "
    - Cherie Jimenez, Boston, USA
  • "Just because dancing (stripping) is legal does not mean it’s not violence against women - Stripping and prostitution go hand in hand."
    - Vednita Carter, St Paul, USA
  • "For me, sexual abuse was a direct route into prostitution. The same kind of destructive abuse chosen by myself, because I knew this feeling and recognised myself in this situation, even though the situation traumatised me over and over again."
    - Tanja Rahm, Copenhagen, Denmark
  • "At the tender age of fifteen I was coerced into the brutal world of prostitution, I immediately lost my identity. I liken my day to day life to being on the front lines of a battlefield. I spent the next eleven years shut down and disassociated. I supressed feelings of shame and disgust constantly, by telling myself that this was a job like any other."
    - Fiona Broadfoot, Bradford, UK
  • "My body, mind, and spirit survived so many things for so many years. The sexual exploitation and violence I endured was almost like something that happened to someone else. If I had told myself the truth about what was being done to me, my psyche would have splintered into a million pieces."
    - Autumn Burris, Denver, USA
  • "When New Zealand passed full decriminalisation, things changed in unexpected ways and I came to understand that the myths of legal protection, autonomy, increased choice and greater community acceptance were unfounded.. The myth of health being better was proved false in less than 6 months of the law reform. Women were kissing and risking herpes, doing oral sex without condoms with the risk of throat warts, doing rougher and riskier practices just to get the jobs.. I dealt with punters changing expectations. I had no choice but to fight against this model ever spreading to another country."
    - Sabrinna Valisce, Melbourne, Australia
  • "When I look back now I see that prostitutuion lured and consumed those of us who were already marginalised in society. If you were poor, if you were disadvantaged, if you had come from a broken home or had vulnerabilities connected to prior cycles of abuse, especially sexual abuse, prostitution was there waiting for you. Prostitution is a trap, and it’s not a coincidence that all over the world it ensnares those who are already struggling to survive."
    - Rachel Moran, Dublin, Ireland
  • "What I know today is that women are victimised by the system of prostitution by innumerable perpetrators, and at the same time victimised by a society which is not only allowing but encouraging prostitution by accepting it as a 'job like any other'. We are victims of a society blind in one eye, advancing the wealth of a privileged few over the suffering of an incalculable number of women and children."
    - Marie Merklinger, Stuttgart, Germany
  • "Remembering friend’s I have lost along the way, and taking a glance at all the violence, rape and inhumane activities, I just can’t help but recognize my luck to alive today."
    - Mickey Meji, Cape Town, South Africa
Read more testimonials
"It might surprise you, but it can happen to anyone. No you’re not exempt. I wasn’t."
- Marian Hatcher, Chicago, USA
Read more testimonials