Fiona Broadfoot’s involvement in the violence against women sector has been varied. She was exploited into prostitution at the age of 15 and exited in 1996 after someone close to her was murdered. Her deceased relative was 17 at the time of her death and had been pimped into prostitution at the age of 15. This shocked Fiona into confronting a harsh reality. She became a volunteer in Bradford, working with girls and young women at risk or involved in sexual exploitation and then a volunteer supporting adult women working in street prostitution.
Through her volunteering she became increasingly concerned about the approach to these women by professionals, usually a medical model looking at reducing the risk of infection by giving free condoms and clean needles for drug users. She became concerned also about the legislation surrounding girls and women abused through prostitution; usually the girls/women were criminalised while the pimps and punters walked free.
In 1996 Fiona set up a support group, ‘Street Exit’, for women who had exited prostitution. She also began to share her experiences at conferences across the UK and began campaigning and delivering training focusing on the exploitation and abuse of women and children in prostitution, including challenging the notion that prostitution is a ‘job’ like any other and that girls and women are making free choices to enter this so call ‘trade’.
It has been 15 years since Fiona first shared her experiences and she would like to state that she naively thought once she shouted aloud the TRUTH about prostitution things would change; she now believes things are as bad as ever, but that we must never, ever, give up.