FAC support for x:talk project campaign
Earlier this month, the BBC reported that sex workers in East London were already experiencing a crackdown from the police in advance of the Olympics (though the Metropolitan Police claimed this was "in response to community concerns" and not because of that).
x:talk are a sex worker-led workers co-operative who offer a space for peer-to-peer networking, translation and information sharing. They provide free English classes to migrant sex workers, with an emphasis on the space as a place of knowledge-sharing between equals, where it is important that the teachers are (or have been) sex workers.
The project is calling for a moratorium on arrests of sex workers in London with immediate effect until the end of the Olympic Games. It highlights that further crackdowns are likely to undermine the safety of sex workers and lead to arrests, detention and deportations. The offences to be included under the moratorium are soliciting and keeping a brothel, where the person suspected of 'keeping a brothel' is a sex worker. These are laid out in x:talk's campaign briefing, which also draws attention to the case of Claire Finch (who was unanimously acquitted of brothel keeping):
"Finch had accepted that she worked collectively from her own home providing sexual services and gave evidence it would be too dangerous for her to work alone. Finch’s barrister, relying on evidence that there had been numerous serious violent attacks on solitary street sex workers in Bedfordshire in recent years. successfully argued that Finch was entitled to rely on the defence of necessity."
x:talk and their supporters are calling on the Mayor of London and London Metropolitan Police to act by suspend arrests and convictions of sex workers under the criminal laws outlined in their briefing paper.
FAC would like to express wholehearted support for x:talk and this campaign. We think it's important because we believe in the right of sex workers to work as they see fit without discriminatory laws undermining their safety for the sake of "community concern" and apparent "protection".
You can access x:talk's briefing paper "Sex Work and the Olympics: The Case for a Moratorium" here.
Edited on 26 April 2012 to clarify that the offences to be included under the moratorium are soliciting and keeping a brothel, where the person suspected of 'keeping a brothel' is a sex worker. x:talk would also ask that sex workers are not arrested and deported during the enforcement of laws relating to clients and third parties, such as controlling for gain offences. In summary, x:talk's aim is for a suspension of arrests of sex workers. They are not asking for the suspension of all laws relating to sex work.
Picture taken from x:talk Facebook page.