FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 16, 2014
NORTHERN IRISH SEX WORKERS MARK INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST SEX WORKERS
LAW CRIMINALISING PURCHASE OF SEX WILL COME INTO FORCE NEXT YEAR
PSNI ASKED TO ADOPT NEW SEX WORK POLICING STRATEGY
On Wednesday December 17th 2014 Northern Irish sex workers and their allies will stand in solidarity with sex workers in the Republic of Ireland and around the world to call for an end to violence against sex workers. The 17th December is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, a day to call attention to the hate crimes committed against sex workers, and the need to remove the stigma and criminalisation that contributes to violence against sex workers.
Solidarity Federation Belfast Local and the Sex Workers Alliance Ireland have arranged a demonstration at 5pm at Belfast City Hall and are calling on Stormont to scrap Clause 15 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Bill, which criminalises the purchase of sex, and will come into force on 1st June 2015. This law was passed despite independent research commissioned by the Department of Justice showing only 2% of sex workers supported criminalisation of clients and 61% of sex workers thought it would make them less safe.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK not to have rejected legislation criminalising the purchase of sex. There is great concern that the result of Clause 15 will be sex work driven further underground and increased violence against sex workers. Despite promises of decriminalisation, sex workers will remain liable to be prosecuted for brothel keeping if they do not work alone.
So far this year Northern Ireland based sex workers have reported 179 incidents of abuse to UglyMugs.ie. 69 of these incidents were deemed to be crimes and include assaults, exploitation, fraud, harassment, impersonating police, robberies, sexual assaults, threatening behaviour and vandalism. 20 of these criminal incidents involved physical violence against the sex worker. Only 5 (7.2%) of these 69 crime incidents were also reported to the PSNI.
Lucy Smith of UglyMugs.ie said “It is vital that the PSNI now improve their response to crime against sex workers. The ‘Merseyside Model’ of treating crimes against sex workers as hate crimes and providing sex work liaison officers, as recommended by ACPO, should be adopted immediately.”
“In regard to enforcement the PSNI must now adopt a strategy that prioritises sex worker safety. Clause 15 has created a situation where the PSNI are now compelled to look again at their policing around sex work. We hope there will be engagement with sex workers on these issues shortly.”
Sex workers, supporters and media welcome outside Belfast City Hall 5-6pm, Wednesday December 17th 2014. Masks will be available for privacy if desired.
For further information, please contact:
Lucy Smith, UglyMugs.ie
firstname.lastname@example.org / www.uglymugs.ie