The majority of sex workers in this country work legally and of their own volition. They don't take drugs any more than the rest of society. Street workers are the exception, but must not be seen as the norm for prostitution. Most sex workers work discretely from their own homes, rented flats, as call girls or in illegal brothels. Many work independently and some use the services of agencies to take their bookings. The law though discriminates against them. They are not allowed to share premises. As soon as they share a premise, one of the them is now a brothel owner and is liable for imprisonment of up to 7 years, and all her earnings are confiscated. Using the services of an agency is also fraught. An agency is operating in a grey area of the law, and thus encourages criminals to operate and high markup rates.
What other job in this country encourages people to work on their own? Working together, so there are several people on the same premises ensures greater safety, from robbery, from injury and from the occasional bad client Working together helps companionship, conversation and sharing of problems. Working in a flat on your own is boring and tiring, do not believe those quotes which say a women will see 20 men in a day, normally they are lucky to see 2 or 3 in a day.
The law at present forces women to work on their own, making their life insular and dangerous. Those illegal brothels and flats that do operate are targets of violent criminals. Criminals know that there is little chance the crime will be reported to the police. Reporting the violent crime will invariably shut the brothel down, and prosecution against the leaseholder of the flat will follow. There is a pending case in Surrey where the brothel owner reported a violent crime where the sex worker was threatened and petrol was poured throught the flat. The owner, she has now been charged, while the criminals have never been charged.
Lets take an example in the United Kingdom and compare two cities near each other, Edingburgh and Glasgow. Edinburgh tolerates prostitution, it occurs throughout the city in discrete Saunas, the police check these on a regular basis, they are clean and well run. The council earn large licence fees from these saunas, and the Inland Revenue earn VAT and income tax. There is little street prostitution in Edinburgh, and little violence against sex workers. Compare that with Glasgow where prostitution is not tolerated, brothels are closed down, women working from hotels are harassed. There is a far larger street prostitution problem in Glasgow than in Edinburgh, and there is far more violence against sex workers in that city with at least a death every year.
Closing down brothels also causes some displacement of brothel workers back onto the street. An example was in Soho. The police closed two independent ‘walk-up’ flats used by prostitutes, asserting drug dealing and a violent incident in the hallway, though with no allegation that these were connected with the prostitutes. No convincing evidence was presented and the women, with substantial support from the community, successfully opposed the closure order in court, though not before at least one of them had tried the more dangerous occupation of streetwalking around Kings Cross.
Why is this idea important?
It is important for people to choose what they want to do, and how they work.
Consenting adults should have the freedom to sell and buy sexual services in the way they want.
The present laws make it unsafe for women working in the sex industry.
The present laws stigmatize women in the sex industry.
The present laws make it difficult for women to report attacks on them (mainly from criminals not clients) without jeopardizing their working environment.
Present laws breed distrust between sex workers and the police.
Present laws make it difficult for clients to report coercion
Present laws make it difficult for sex workers to lead a normal life, get a mortgage and ultimatly leave the sex industry.
Present laws favour the criminal pimp, and not the cooperative womens brothel. Remember Chicago in the '30s and prohibition, gangs thrived. Decriminalisation of sex work would have the same effect.