I went to this meeting in the Monk Exchange organised by Westminster Skeptics. I am quite taken by the idea and would probably want to go along to other Skeptics in the Pub evenings. Apparently there are 25 groups in the UK. I went along because there was a talk on legislation and the sex industry by two people I wanted to meet.
There was a presentation by Dr Belinda Brooks-Gordon on how the numbers associated with sex work were derived, that is the numbers who work as sex workers, the numbers trafficked and the numbers of clients. She also made it very plain how angry she was with the last Government on how they suppressed a report which they instigated until after the legislation had been passed. This was the review of the literature on the sex industry, this review did not come up with any support for the proposed law changes. This report was suppressed for a whole year. She also talked about the harm of various aspects of the new and existing legislation on sex workers and their clients. She also talked about the rescue industry, and the factions in the police, those opposing more legislation, and the ACPO who wanted more. She touched on the proceeds of crime. Interestingly she maintained some police forces managed to negotiate better deals, i.e. they kept more than 25% of the proceeds.
The whole thrust of the argument was the police were looking into an ever expanding hay rick for the needle. The costs were escalating in bringing these cases, and that more courts were throwing out cases. I knew about Claire Finch in Bedford who was acquitted by the Jury, but apparently there have been a couple more recently further North. In the case of Claire Finch, the police have been vexatious and have not returned the money they confiscated from the premises during the raid.
After Belinda spoke, Dr Brooke Magnanti (Belle de Jour) spoke and gave her perspective from a sex worker on the legislation, and on the attitudes of the anti prostitution brigade in not accepting her position as a sex worker.
There were questions from the floor, this was started by a long monologue from an anti prostitution feminist. Her statements (not questions) were then adequately dispatched by Belinda and Belle. Other than that statement, the atmosphere was very supportive of what Belinda and Belle had said.
There was a point made by Belinda about what David Blunkett had failed to achieve in legalizing small brothels. It was said by Downing street that the public would not support such a change. Belinda said how ironic it was the Ipsus Mori poll showed there was support for prostitution in this country, even in a poll geared to elicit the opposite result. (i.e trafficking and would you want your daughter to work in the sex industry). At this stage she called on Catherine Stephens who was in the audience to give a run down on the BBC Sunday morning live show she did the other day speaking against Bel Mooney from the Daily Mail, where the result was 80% in favour of accepting prostitution. Catherine spoke very well, even though she had not expected to be called on. After wards many people came up to Catherine and thanked her for speaking.
Well I met and spoke with Belinda, Belle and Catherine. Also had a chat with Dr Evan Harris who was the Liberal MP who did so much in Parliament to try and block some of the legislation. In his summing up speech he gave credit to Catherine on the help she had been in that fight.
There should be a podcast available soon, I will publish the link to it when available.
It was a good evening, the beer was excellent, and I drank far too many pints by the end.