Wahine Toa Rising letter to New Zealand ministers

The new, prostitution survivor-led New Zealand organisation, Wahine Toa Rising, has sent this letter to ministers to draw attention to the plight of women in prostitution during the current COVID-19 crisis, to ask advice about what support is available to women currently involved in prostitution and how the emergency subsidies apply to the sex trade, and to offer advice based on their own intimate knowledge of the realities of the sex trade.

In New Zealand the sex trade is fully decriminalised and prostitution is considered a job like any other. The letter brilliantly exposes this idea as a travesty. Read More

Who is misbehaving? Reflections on the film, Misbehaviour

At the beginning of the film, Misbehaviour, Sally Alexander (played by Keira Knightley) is applying to study history at University College, London (UCL). We see her walk into the large wood-panelled interview room where six middle-aged white men are waiting for her, seated in a row behind a long table. The camera pans back so we can see them giving her a mark out of ten as she settles on the lone chair in front of them… Read More

Prostitution is not a job and never will be. Here’s why.

By Dana Levy

Can prostitution be a normal job? Sex trade apologists claim that ‘sex work is work.’ Some of them say: “We just need a proper regulatory structure to make it safe,” while others insist: “All regulatory restrictions are harmful. Prostitution is not the problem; society is the problem. You are the problem! If we get rid of the regulations and stereotypes, it will become just like any other job.”

We, the survivors of prostitution who struggle against the sex trade, know the truth: prostitution is not a job. Read More

Why the Nordic Model? A view from New Zealand

Ally-Marie Diamond is of Maori/Pacific Islander heritage and grew up in New Zealand, where she was groomed into prostitution. In this engaging post, she explains how she came to be an activist for the Nordic Model and why she believes it is the best approach to prostitution policy and legislation. Read More

Paedocriminal apologetics from the sex industry apologists

The Global Network of Sex Work Projects (NSWP) is an umbrella group of hundreds of organisations around the world that purport to represent ‘sex workers,’ while in fact supporting and lobbying for the full decriminalisation of the entire sex trade, including pimps and brothel keepers (who they call ‘third parties’). This article looks at NSWP’s position on the prostitution of children and young adults, and shows how it serves to condone the paid rape of children. Read More

What makes exiting prostitution so hard?

Huschke Mau, who was herself in prostitution for around 10 years, writes about the psychological and structural barriers that make it difficult, or even impossible, for women to exit prostitution and build a life for themselves outside. While some of the details are specific to Germany and its legalised prostitution system, the themes are more or less universal. Read More

Thursday afternoon at the brothel

This is a diary entry from way back when Huschke wasn’t yet called Huschke, and was sitting around in the brothel as Svenja or Charlotte or whoever.

“Enough of this. I could not do another client today, it would hurt too much. To own up to this, to open myself to this, feels lethal. It does free me somehow, but the fear of Monday is back, where I mustn’t be this vulnerable any more, where I must push aside my knowledge that this is abuse, if I don’t want another murder to be perpetrated against my soul.”
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Full Decriminalisation of the sex trade will start an irreversible and dangerous domino effect

Ally-Marie Diamond is a sex trade survivor and activist, who grew up in New Zealand and now lives in Australia. This is the final part (slightly edited) of a speech she gave last year to the South Australian and Northern Territory parliaments when they were debating bills for Full Decriminalisation of the sex trade. Read More

Prostitution: What are the problems and how do we solve them?

Before we consider options for prostitution law and policy, we need a full understanding of how prostitution affects both the women and men involved, and the wider society. This article provides a brief summary of the impacts of prostitution and shows that prostitution is part of a wider systemic problem and that it therefore requires a systemic solution. The article goes on to show that the Nordic Model approach provides such a systemic solution – unlike full decriminalisation which would exacerbate the very problems that we need to solve. Read More

Legalisation of brothels and the carceral state

In this important article, Esther, who was herself in prostitution, draws parallels between methods of mass control and subjection introduced during the industrial revolution and the control of women and their widespread subjection to practices of sexual torture during the current technological revolution. She exposes the hypocrisy of the human rights organisations and capitalists who argue for the blanket decriminalisation of the sex trade, which would open up legal mega-brothels such as are found in Germany, and draws on her own experience to argue that the sex industry is rife with racism, sexism and classism, preys on the most powerless women and girls and is inherently traumatising. Legalising brothels benefits only the punters and the profiteers, not the women. Read More

The women behind the windows in Amsterdam’s red light district

A review of ‘Body for Rent’ by Anna Hendricks and Olivia Smit.

This is the true story of two girls being groomed, and then pimped into the windows of the famous De Wallen red light district in Amsterdam on the day they reach 18, the magical age that prostitution becomes legal in the Netherlands, and their subsequent years of struggle to get free. Underlying this story is another one: the power of the love and friendship between the two women, even under the most brutal circumstances and the best efforts of their pimp to drive a wedge between them. Read More

The child sexual abuse hidden behind the ‘sex work’ façade

This article looks at evidence from Germany and New Zealand that legalising or decriminalising the prostitution of adults creates a façade behind which the prostitution (or paid rape) of children can thrive and weakens men’s individual and collective resistance to sexually abusing children. This suggests that opening up the commercial sex industry will always have profound child safeguarding implications – and gives the lie to assertions to the contrary. Read More

Miseducation – This is not a love song

Drawing on her own experiences in porn and prostitution, Esther asks that we break through our cultural denial and open our eyes to the brutal reality that easy access to online porn and anything goes prostitution has unleashed: The everyday sexual, bodily and psychic torture of women and girls throughout the world and the presentation of this to children as if it were normal sex and not fraught with danger, not only for the individual but for our very social fabric. Read More

Which model is safest for women in prostitution: legalisation, full decrim, or partial decrim (Nordic Model)?

Drawing on her own lived experience, Jade looks at the ‘everyday reality’ of prostitution for women operating under three key models of prostitution law and policy – legalisation, full decriminalisation, and partial decriminalisation (aka the Nordic Model), and asks which model is safest for the women involved. Read More

20 Years On – Scotland learning from Sweden’s Sex Purchase Act

This article is based on the live tweets Bec Wonders sent out during an event in the Scottish Parliament on 5 December 2019. The event was entitled ‘Twenty Years On: What can Scotland learn from Sweden’s ground-breaking law to tackle demand for prostitution and sex trafficking?’ We are grateful to Bec for letting us publish the article because she captures the feeling and essential messages of the event brilliantly.

“I cast my eyes much higher than ‘mitigating’ violence against women and girls. Commercial sexual exploitation of women and girls must be eliminated, not mitigated or tolerated – eliminated.” says Ruth Maguire. Read More

Rape, stigmatisation and textual victimisation

In this article, Helena Brors discusses the 2015 Swedish book, Allt som är mitt: Våldtäkt, stigmatisering och upprättelse (which translates as: Everything that’s mine: Rape, stigmatisation and amends) by two ‘sex-positive feminists,’ Alexander Chamberland and Anna Svensson, and exposes in a brilliant and illuminating way many of the logical fallacies that both ‘sex-positive’ feminists and pro-sex trade lobbyists routinely make.
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The F*ck Union and 20 years of Stockholm Syndrome

Dana Levy is an Israeli prostitution survivor and abolitionist activist in Israel, where a Nordic Model-style law has recently been passed. In this article she provides a persuasive critique of the Swedish organisation, Fuckförbundet’s recent report on the impact of the 1999 Swedish Sex Purchase Act, entitled ‘Twenty years of failing sex workers.’ She shows that many of the claims in the report simply do not hold up to scrutiny. Read More

Mobilising against the sex trade at FiLiA 2019

Run entirely by unpaid volunteers, FiLiA is a national feminist conference that takes place annually in the UK. This year it was in Bradford on the weekend of 19 and 20 October. In this article we provide a very brief summary of some of the highlights of the weekend for us – focusing on critique of the sex trade. However, the conference covered many other feminist issues, which we don’t have room to cover here. Read More

From the woman as object to the object as woman

In this brilliant and important interview, Yağmur Arica talks to Francine Sporenda about how technological developments have hugely increased the scale of sexual exploitation that is taking place and the vast profits that are being made from it. Yağmur goes on to argue, persuasively, that the popularity of sex dolls or robots, which she calls ‘masturbatory dolls,’ can be interpreted as yet another backlash against the gains of the feminist movement, as we rapidly approach the terrifying end-point where, “One woman is as good as any other and a doll is as good as a woman.” Read More

Report on the Scottish Parliamentary Prostitution Fact Finding Trip to Sweden

In this article, Dr Stoyle, the Secretariat of the Cross Party Group for Commercial Sexual Exploitation (CPG CSE) in the Scottish Parliament, reports on a Scottish parliamentary trip to Sweden to find out more about how the Swedish prostitution law works in practice. The trip took place on 22nd and 23rd August 2019. Read More

The Holbeck red light zone: condoms, sex offenders and cars full of jeering men

Holbeck in Leeds has been dubbed the UK’s first and only ‘legal’ red light district and there have been claims that it proves that legalising or decriminalising the sex trade is the way to go. Many other local councils are watching carefully as they are tempted to introduce copy cat zones. But what is it really like? Does it really make things safe for the women? Has it ended the practice of giving women cautions, fines, ASBOs and prison sentences for prostitution-related activities? What do the local residents have to say? We visit the zone to find out for ourselves. Read More

Online Pimping: A New Dystopia

Just as the Internet has changed how we buy books, holidays and electronic items, so it has changed how prostitution is organised. Now the Internet is one of the main ways that punters connect with the women (and others) they pay to use sexually, and it has opened up whole new opportunities for pimps to make vast fortunes while creating a living hell for many of those advertised. Read More

The long road to abolition

A reflection on the transatlantic slave trade – what drove it, how it was justified, and the long road to its abolition – and the current battle between those who want to open up the sex trade to the free markets and those who want to abolish the sex trade and the entire system of prostitution.

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” – Nelson Mandela, 1995 Read More

An EMDR therapist on what she’s learned working with people who’ve experienced prostitution

Dana Levy is an Israeli prostitution survivor and campaigner for the Nordic Model in Israel, where a Nordic Model-style law has recently been passed. In this article, she talks to Dr Tal Croitoru, the CEO and founder of the Israeli network, EMDR Experts, about her EMDR work with people who’ve experienced prostitution. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories. Read More