Sex and The Law

The current law

You can find it easily anywhere online, but in a nutshell it is not illegal to sell or buy sex in Scotland. Unfortunately, the only legal way to sell sex is the least safe one: indoors and on your own. And it’s a criminal offence to purchase services of a sex worker who is trafficked/ coerced, whether you’re aware of this fact or not.

Legalisation Vs Decriminalisation

Prostitution is legalised in Holland, Germany and a few other countries. This means that as a sex worker I have the right to offer my services in a designated Red Light District together with hundreds of other sex workers (which means that the prices keep going down. It is now cheaper to visit a prostitute than a hairdresser in Amsterdam). I would need to be registered as a sex worker, I will be given a registration number and a registration card which I have to carry on me all the time in case the police want to check it (other professions are exempt from this regulation, as you can guess). I will be subject to mandatory health checks and I will be working from the premises that are closely monitored for drugs, fire extinguishers and other unrelated items.

There is another set of laws for brothels where a brothel keeper can force a sex worker to see a client they want to refuse, perform services they do not wish to perform, see more clients a sex worker is comfortable with and work long shifts (up to 12 hours).

So yes, I can work legally and safely but only within my ghetto. I can’t work from home and I probably won’t find a lot of other job opportunities since I’m already registered as a sex worker. It will also be difficult to open a bank account or get a mortgage. I may lose my registration if I miss my forced health check. So a lot of sex workers still work illegally in these countries simply because they don’t want to register or want to work from home.

Decriminalisation is the route taken by New Zealand. Prostitution, brothel keeping, controlling for gain and street prostitution are all permitted – Prostitution Reform Act passed narrowly (60 for, 59 against and 1 abstained) in 2003. There I can work where I want, how I want and when I want and I do not need to be registered for it. Brothels need a license. 2 sex workers on the premises are termed as Small Owner Operated Brothel and there is no need in licensing. If I want to work on my own – no questions asked as long as the taxman is happy.

In the ideal world (the one where prostitution is decriminalised)

No registration, no ID checks, no names. I taught at school for a few years before moving on to a better paid occupation. Will I be able to go back to teaching if I have a word “prostitute” on my file?  Even if the current law is repealed, and sex trade is completely decriminalised, the stigma attached to it will still be there for another couple of centuries. Say, I have children. Can you imagine what they will have to go through at school if everyone knows their mother is a whore? You think clients want it discreet? Think about us!

No forced health checks. My body is my livelihood. My health is paramount. There is no sick leave in this profession. So I do look after my health. I have to. But I don’t want to be forced to. I want to do it when there is need for it and it’s convenient for me, not when the law says so. Forcing sex workers to undergo check ups every 2 weeks only reinforces the public opinion that we are all disease-ridden bug-infested creatures.

Freedom to work in a group without brothel license. 2 sex workers together do not constitute a brothel on condition that none of them controls the other and they are together for reasons of safety and to keep the expenses down.

Freedom to work outside. Believe it or not, some women will choose to work in the street. If I can’t take work home and I don’t want to work in a brothel (because the hours don’t suit me/ because I can’t do as many shifts as the madame wants me to/ because I don’t want to share the money I make/ because most women working there are 25 and I’m 53) in most cases I’ll be left with the street as the only option. If a web designer can work from a cafe/ in a park, why can’t I? And no worries, women will not be standing next to schools and nurseries simply because these are not the places where you can meet men. Reintroduce toleration zones – it’s easier for you and for sex workers as in this case clients will know where to look for us.

Freedom to work from premises other than licensed brothels. At the moment, if I rent a flat to work from and the landlord doesn’t know about it – I break the law. If the landlord does know about it – he/she will be kindly asked by the police to evict me. So I end up in the street either way.

Licensed brothels don’t need to be inspected more thoroughly or more often than any other licensed business.

No more police raids without a reason. Police officers should be trained to treat sex workers seriously and with respect. Salacious looks don’t go with police uniforms (unless they are PVC and are on a sex worker).

True Paul

I agree with virtually everything apart from the forced health checks!
If prostitution was legalised why should it be any different to any other profession?
Builders have to comply with Health and safety, Nuclear Power station workers have to monitor their Radiation exposure (as do Radiologists) and licensees have to uphold standards of behaviour to keep their livelihood!
The only real argument against health checks is the ability to maintain anonymity when having them and what interval between tests is appropriate? Most STDs have a period after infection when a blood test wouldn’t show them up so even a ‘clear’ test wouldn’t guarantee safety. Maybe an alternative to testing would be to obligate safe sex……..but who’s going to run the checks on that!!

Jewel

I probably didn’t make it clear enough – prostitution shouldn’t be legalised, it should be decriminalised. Will edit the page.
2 reasons why I personally don’t want health checks to be mandatory (I’m not saying they shouldn’t be, I’m saying they shouldn’t be forced).
First of all, when a builder/ radiologist/ power station worker goes to work in the morning, their neighbours are unlikely to point a finger at them and say to their children: “See that man? Never talk to him, and run back home if he comes up to you in the street. I’ve seen him down at the local GUM clinic second time this month, he’s a bad, bad man!”
And secondly, as I’ve pointed it out already, a professional sex worker always looks after their health (I’ve never met anyone who offers unprotected sex (and most withdrew unprotected oral recently, too) and we still have regular check ups because our life and livelihood depends on it). But there are amateurs who work in bars and clubs every week-end, they charge far less (I’m not saying they are free as you still have to buy at least one drink for them) and unless the man they pick up that night insists on protection (and let’s face it, what man will think of such things when he’s about to get laid?) there will be nothing of the kind. These amateur sex workers might have fewer sexual partners than me (or they might not), but who, do you think, will spread more disease? I’ve had only one case of STD in my life and it was way before I went into this business, it was when my then boyfriend brought it home after a one night stand.
And so, if you want to force check ups on us, shouldn’t you force check ups on amateurs, too? Otherwise, you’re discriminating us based on our occupation.
There shouldn’t be unprotected sex full stop. And punters who are stupid enough to look for it, deserve the consequences. But I’d prefer it to be made illegal within the business – this way even the densest punters might get the point.

True Paul

Sorry probably my fault for not reading carefully enough…I am a man so half my brain(at least) is in my trousers! You make a very fair point about the difference between ‘testing’ various professions, i think it’s probably a knee jerk reaction from those with no experience of the sex business (me included)that mandatory health checks must be a good idea. Thanks for changing my preconceptions.

Jewel

You’re not the first one. People who have no clue what selling sex is really about are the ones who are most eager to tell us what to do and how to do it. According to most “decent” people, we are all HIV-positive drug-addicts with no education from a poor background and a broken home. Oh, and we are all victims, of course.
And it’s a nice change – to see a man who is realistic about the location of his grey matter.

Steve

Yes its a misconception that sex workers are dangerous disease carriers. As long as GUMs are easily accessible, and sex workers are not forced to go, but encouraged then they get used. Austria is a country that forces regular screening and it appears to be a disaster.

Liverpool has published figures comparing the general population with sex workers, these figures are looking at brothel workers and street workers. There because of the outreach workers building relationships with the SWs the SWs are seemingly a pretty healthy lot. The sexual infections among sex workers are lower than in the general population, who attend the Liverpool Centre for Sexual Health, at the Royal Hospital.

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/liverpool-news/local-news/2009/06/29/liverpool-has-1-200-sex-trade-workers-100252-24010765/2/

Again that same city has done so much more to protect sex workers from violence by treating assaults as a hate crime. They succesfuly prosecute rape cases to a far higher succes rate in sex workers than in the general population.

wildavidsonne

Just so you know – Prostitution apart from street prostitution is not just decriminalised but legal in NSW provided the premises are registered and approved by the council.

Individual offers not related to a particular premises have no restriction to my knowledge.

The only state that has restrictions in Australia is Tasmania.

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