Positive outcomes can come from the most horrible of circumstances. So while the headline-grabbing murders of five women in Ipswich in 2006 shocked the nation, it also led to a heightened public debate about prostitution – the industry all five women were working in at the time of their death. The views of academics, the police and third sector groups were all sought in an attempt to find out how to ensure the safety of women selling sex – which isn’t actually illegal in the UK, although many of the activities associated with it are. Strangely though, sex workers themselves and the organisations that profess to represent them have been largely excluded from the debate.
In an attempt to redress the balance, I have come to a quiet pub in north London to speak to Catherine, a prostitute, dominatrix and activist with the International Union of Sex Workers (IUSW).
As we sip our drinks, Catherine tells me the IUSW was formed in 2000 by Ana Lopes, a migrant sex worker from Portugal, who had come to the conclusion “that a lot of the problems in the sex industry were not actually related to the work itself” but were “about the conditions in which the work was done and the amount of power the worker had.”
Read the rest here