I want to talk about sex for money.
I’m not like most of the people you’ll have heard speaking
about prostitution before.
I’m not a police officer or a social worker.
我不是学者 不是记者 也不从政
I’m not an academic, a journalist or a politician.
And as you’ll probably have picked up from Maryam’s blurb,
I’m not a nun, either.
Most of those people would tell you that selling sex is degrading;
that no one would ever choose to do it;
that it’s dangerous; women get abused and killed.
In fact, most of those people would say,
“There should be a law against it!”
Maybe that sounds reasonable to you.
It sounded reasonable to me until the closing months of 2009,
when I was working two dead-end, minimum-wage jobs.
Every month my wages would just replenish my overdraft.
I was exhausted and my life was going nowhere.
Like many others before me,
I decided sex for money was a better option.
Now don’t get me wrong —
I would have loved to have won the lottery instead.
But it wasn’t going to happen anytime soon,
and my rent needed paying.
So I signed up for my first shift in a brothel.
In the years that have passed,
I’ve had a lot of time to think.
I’ve reconsidered the ideas I once had about prostitution.
I’ve given a lot of thought to consent
and the nature of work under capitalism.
I’ve thought about gender inequality
and the sexual and reproductive labor of women.
I’ve experienced exploitation and violence at work.
I’ve thought about what’s needed
to protect other sex workers from these things.
Maybe you’ve thought about them, too.
In this talk,
I’ll take you through the four main legal approaches
applied to sex work throughout the world,
and explain why they don’t work;
why prohibiting the sex industry actually exacerbates every harm
that sex workers are vulnerable to.
Then I’m going tell you about what we, as sex workers, actually want.
The first approach is full criminalization.
Half the world,
including Russia, South Africa and most of the US,
宣布所有从事性工作的人 包括卖春者 卖春者和第三方
regulates sex work by criminalizing everyone involved.
So that’s seller, buyer and third parties.
Lawmakers in these countries apparently hope
that the fear of getting arrested will deter people from selling sex.
But if you’re forced to choose between obeying the law
and feeding yourself or your family,
you’re going to do the work anyway,
and take the risk.
Criminalization is a trap.
It’s hard to get a conventional job when you have a criminal record.
Potential employers won’t hire you.
Assuming you still need money,
你的经济状况 仍然是脆弱的 不正规的
you’ll stay in the more flexible, informal economy.
The law forces you to keep selling sex,
which is the exact opposite of its intended effect.
Being criminalized leaves you exposed to mistreatment by the state itself.
In many places you may be coerced into paying a bribe
or even into having sex with a police officer
to avoid arrest.
Police and prison guards in Cambodia, for example,
have been documented subjecting sex workers
to what can only be described as torture:
threats at gunpoint,
殴打 电击 强奸她们
beatings, electric shocks, rape
and denial of food.
Another worrying thing:
如果你在肯尼亚 南非 或纽约这些地方卖淫
if you’re selling sex in places like Kenya, South Africa or New York,
a police officer can arrest you if you’re caught carrying condoms,
because condoms can legally be used as evidence that you’re selling sex.
Obviously, this increases HIV risk.
Imagine knowing if you’re busted carrying condoms,
it’ll be used against you.
你将会更倾向于 把它留在家里 对吧？
It’s a pretty strong incentive to leave them at home, right?
Sex workers working in these places are forced to make a tough choice
between risking arrest or having risky sex.
What would you choose?
Would you pack condoms to go to work?
How about if you’re worried
the police officer would rape you when he got you in the van?
The second approach to regulating sex work seen in these countries
is partial criminalization,
where the buying and selling of sex are legal,
but surrounding activities,
like brothel-keeping or soliciting on the street, are banned.
Laws like these —
we have them in the UK and in France —
essentially say to us sex workers,
“Hey, we don’t mind you selling sex,
just make sure it’s done behind closed doors
and all alone.”
And brothel-keeping, by the way,
is defined as just two or more sex workers working together.
Making that illegal means that many of us work alone,
which obviously makes us vulnerable to violent offenders.
But we’re also vulnerable
if we choose to break the law by working together.
A couple of years ago,
a friend of mine was nervous after she was attacked at work,
so I said that she could see her clients from my place for a while.
During that time,
we had another guy turn nasty.
I told the guy to leave or I’d call the police.
And he looked at the two of us and said,
“You girls can’t call the cops.
You’re working together, this place is illegal.”
He was right.
He eventually left without getting physically violent,
but the knowledge that we were breaking the law
empowered that man to threaten us.
He felt confident he’d get away with it.
同样 禁止街头拉客 不但没有减少性工作者的危险
The prohibition of street prostitution also causes more harm
than it prevents.
Firstly, to avoid getting arrested,
street workers take risks to avoid detection,
and that means working alone
or in isolated locations like dark forests
where they’re vulnerable to attack.
If you’re caught selling sex outdoors,
you pay a fine.
How do you pay that fine without going back to the streets?
It was the need for money that saw you in the streets
in the first place.
And so the fines stack up,
and you’re caught in a vicious cycle
of selling sex to pay the fines you got for selling sex.
我来讲一个马里亚纳·波帕的故事 她在雷德布里奇 东伦敦工作
Let me tell you about Mariana Popa who worked in Redbridge, East London.
The street workers on her patch would normally wait for clients in groups
for safety in numbers
and to warn each other about how to avoid dangerous guys.
But during a police crackdown on sex workers and their clients,
she was forced to work alone to avoid being arrested.
She was stabbed to death in the early hours of October 29, 2013.
She had been working later than usual
to try to pay off a fine she had received for soliciting.
So if criminalizing sex workers hurts them,
why not just criminalize the people who buy sex?
This is the aim of the third approach
I want to talk about —
the Swedish or Nordic model of sex-work law.
The idea behind this law
is that selling sex is intrinsically harmful
and so you’re, in fact, helping sex workers by removing the option.
Despite growing support
for what’s often described as the “end demand” approach,
there’s no evidence that it works.
There’s just as much prostitution in Sweden as there was before.
Why might that be?
It’s because people selling sex
often don’t have other options for income.
If you need that money,
the only effect that a drop in business is going have
is to force you to lower your prices
or offer more risky sexual services.
If you need to find more clients,
you might seek the help of a manager.
So you see, rather than putting a stop
to what’s often descried as pimping,
a law like this actually gives oxygen
to potentially abusive third parties.
To keep safe in my work,
I try not to take bookings from someone
who calls me from a withheld number.
If it’s a home or a hotel visit,
I try to get a full name and details.
If I worked under the Swedish model,
a client would be too scared to give me that information.
I might have no other choice
but to accept a booking from a man who is untraceable
if he later turns out to be violent.
If you need their money,
you need to protect your clients from the police.
If you work outdoors,
that means working alone or in isolated locations,
just as if you were criminalized yourself.
It might mean getting into cars quicker,
less negotiating time means snap decisions.
Is this guy dangerous or just nervous?
Can you afford to take the risk?
Can you afford not to?
Something I’m often hearing is,
“Prostitution would be fine
if we made it legal and regulated it.”
We call that approach legalization,
and it’s used by countries like the Netherlands, Germany
and Nevada in the US.
But it’s not a great model for human rights.
And in state-controlled prostitution,
commercial sex can only happen
in certain legally-designated areas or venues,
and sex workers are made to comply with special restrictions,
like registration and forced health checks.
Regulation sounds great on paper,
but politicians deliberately make regulation around the sex industry
expensive and difficult to comply with.
It creates a two-tiered system: legal and illegal work.
We sometimes call it “backdoor criminalization.”
Rich, well-connected brothel owners can comply with the regulations,
but more marginalized people find those hoops
impossible to jump through.
And even if it’s possible in principle,
getting a license or proper venue takes time and costs money.
It’s not going to be an option
for someone who’s desperate and needs money tonight.
They might be a refugee or fleeing domestic abuse.
In this two-tiered system,
the most vulnerable people are forced to work illegally,
so they’re still exposed to all the dangers of criminalization
I mentioned earlier.
It’s looking like all attempts to control
or prevent sex work from happening
makes things more dangerous for people selling sex.
Fear of law enforcement makes them work alone in isolated locations,
and allows clients and even cops
to get abusive in the knowledge they’ll get away with it.
Fines and criminal records force people to keep selling sex,
rather than enabling them to stop.
Crackdowns on buyers drive sellers to take dangerous risks
and into the arms of potentially abusive managers.
These laws also reinforce stigma and hatred against sex workers.
When France temporarily brought in the Swedish model two years ago,
ordinary citizens took it as a cue
to start carrying out vigilante attacks
against people working on the street.
In Sweden, opinion surveys show
that significantly more people want sex workers to be arrested now
than before the law was brought in.
If prohibition is this harmful,
you might ask, why it so popular?
Firstly, sex work is and always has been a survival strategy
for all kinds of unpopular minority groups:
people of color,
people with disabilities,
particularly trans women.
These are the groups most heavily profiled
and punished through prohibitionist law.
I don’t think this is an accident.
These laws have political support
precisely because they target people
that voters don’t want to see or know about.
Why else might people support prohibition?
Well, lots of people have understandable fears about trafficking.
Folks think that foreign women kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery
can be saved by shutting a whole industry down.
So let’s talk about trafficking.
Forced labor does occur in many industries,
especially those where the workers are migrants or otherwise vulnerable,
and this needs to be addressed.
But it’s best addressed with legislation targeting those specific abuses,
not an entire industry.
When 23 undocumented Chinese migrants
drowned while picking cockles in Morecambe Bay in 2004,
there were no calls to outlaw the entire seafood industry
to save trafficking victims.
The solution is clearly to give workers more legal protections,
allowing them to resist abuse
and report it to authorities without fear of arrest.
The way the term trafficking is thrown around
implies that all undocumented migration into prostitution is forced.
In fact, many migrants have made a decision,
out of economic need,
to place themselves into the hands of people smugglers.
Many do this with the full knowledge
that they’ll be selling sex when they reach their destination.
And yes, it can often be the case
that these people smugglers demand exorbitant fees,
coerce migrants into work they don’t want to do
and abuse them when they’re vulnerable.
That’s true of prostitution,
but it’s also true of agricultural work,
hospitality work and domestic work.
Ultimately, nobody wants to be forced to do any kind of work,
but that’s a risk many migrants are willing to take,
because of what they’re leaving behind.
If people were allowed to migrate legally
they wouldn’t have to place their lives into the hands of people smugglers.
The problems arise
from the criminalization of migration,
just as they do from the criminalization
of sex work itself.
This is a lesson of history.
If you try to prohibit something that people want or need to do,
whether that’s drinking alcohol or crossing borders
or getting an abortion
or selling sex,
you create more problems than you solve.
Prohibition barely makes a difference
to the amount of people actually doing those things.
But it makes a huge difference
as to whether or not they’re safe when they do them.
Why else might people support prohibition?
As a feminist, I know that the sex industry is a site
of deeply entrenched social inequality.
It’s a fact that most buyers of sex are men with money,
and most sellers are women without.
You can agree with all that — I do —
and still think prohibition is a terrible policy.
In a better, more equal world,
maybe there would be far fewer people selling sex to survive,
but you can’t simply legislate a better world into existence.
If someone needs to sell sex because they’re poor
or because they’re homeless
or because they’re undocumented and they can’t find legal work,
taking away that option doesn’t make them any less poor
or house them
or change their immigration status.
People worry that selling sex is degrading.
Ask yourself: is it more degrading than going hungry
or seeing your children go hungry?
There’s no call to ban rich people from hiring nannies
or getting manicures,
even though most of the people doing that labor are poor, migrant women.
It’s the fact of poor migrant women selling sex specifically
that has some feminists uncomfortable.
And I can understand
why the sex industry provokes strong feelings.
People have all kinds of complicated feelings
when it comes to sex.
But we can’t make policy on the basis of mere feelings,
especially not over the heads of the people
actually effected by those policies.
If we get fixated on the abolition of sex work,
we end up worrying more about a particular manifestation
of gender inequality,
rather than about the underlying causes.
People get really hung up on the question,
“Well, would you want your daughter doing it?”
That’s the wrong question.
Instead, imagine she is doing it.
How safe is she at work tonight?
Why isn’t she safer?
So we’ve looked at full criminalization,
partial criminalization, the Swedish or Nordic Model
and how they all cause harm.
Something I never hear asked is:
“What do sex workers want?”
After all, we’re the ones most affected by these laws.
New Zealand decriminalized sex work in 2003.
It’s crucial to remember
that decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing.
Decriminalization means the removal of laws
that punitively target the sex industry,
instead treating sex work much like any other kind of work.
In New Zealand, people can work together for safety,
and employers of sex workers are accountable to the state.
A sex worker can refuse to see a client at any time,
for any reason,
and 96 percent of street workers
report that they feel the law protects their rights.
New Zealand hasn’t actually seen an increase
in the amount of people doing sex work,
but decriminalizing it has made it a lot safer.
But the lesson from New Zealand
isn’t just that its particular legislation is good,
but that crucially,
it was written in collaboration with sex workers;
namely, the New Zealand Prostitutes’ Collective.
When it came to making sex work safer,
they were ready to hear it straight from sex workers themselves.
Here in the UK,
I’m part of sex worker-led groups like the Sex Worker Open University
and the English Collective of Prostitutes.
And we form part of a global movement
demanding decriminalization and self-determination.
The universal symbol of our movement is the red umbrella.
We’re supported in our demands by global bodies like UNAIDS,
the World Health Organization
and Amnesty International.
But we need more allies.
If you care about gender equality
or poverty or migration or public health,
then sex worker rights matter to you.
Make space for us in your movements.
That means not only listening to sex workers when we speak
but amplifying our voices.
Resist those who silence us,
those who say that a prostitute is either too victimized,
以至于不知道 如何保护自己 的声音
too damaged to know what’s best for herself,
or else too privileged
and too removed from real hardship,
not representative of the millions of voiceless victims.
This distinction between victim and empowered is imaginary.
It exists purely to discredit sex workers
and make it easy to ignore us.
No doubt many of you work for a living.
Well, sex work is work, too.
Just like you,
some of us like our jobs,
some of us hate them.
Ultimately, most of us have mixed feelings.
But how we feel about our work
isn’t the point.
And how others feel about our work certainly isn’t.
What’s important is that we have the right to work safely
and on our own terms.
Sex workers are real people.
We’ve had complicated experiences
and complicated responses to those experiences.
But our demands are not complicated.
You can ask expensive escorts in New York City,
brothel workers in Cambodia, street workers in South Africa
and every girl on the roster at my old job in Soho,
and they will all tell you the same thing.
You can speak to millions of sex workers
and countless sex work-led organizations.
We want full decriminalization and labor rights as workers.
I’m just one sex worker on the stage today,
but I’m bringing a message from all over the world.
对于如何规范性工作，每个人都有自己的看法（是否合法化，禁止甚至收税）。但是性工作者们认为怎样是最好的？活动家冬妮·麦克为我们展示了四种她认为无法保证性工作者安全和自主权的立法模型。 “如果您关注性别不平等或者贫穷问题、移民问题、公共卫生问题，那么保护性工作者的权益对您而言至关重要。” 她说，“让我们与您同行。”