Mixed Responses to the Prostitution Strategy

// 18 January 2006

Responses have been mixed to the prostitution strategy published yesterday by the government. Some are disappointed by the decision not to introduce \x91tolerance zones\x92 such as have been adopted in other countries to help street prostitutes to be safer, others are pleased at the focus on getting women off the streets, and criminalising the men who kerb crawl.

The Guardian publishes two different responses today. One from Julie Bindel, which claims the strategy is a great breakthrough ("It is argued that it is safer for the women to work in a legal or decriminalised regime. Prostitution can never be safe. If a buyer decides he wants to hurt a woman, he will simply take her away from the CCTV cameras"), and another by Diane Taylor who says that the strategy will drive women underground, making them less safe than ever ("Zero tolerance of outdoor and some indoor prostitution won’t protect the most vulnerable women and won’t stop them working. Instead it will drive them underground and put their lives at risk")

Elsewhere, reactions are also mixed. The Daily Mail is predictable in its outrage ("Drink, casinos, sex: What will he relax next?") and The Sun complains of inconsistency in government policy ("LAST week, Tony Blair wisely urged Sun readers to shop a neighbour from hell. Today one of his ministers is giving the all-clear for prostitutes to set up mini-brothels \x97 on your doorstep").

The Telegraph seems to consider the proposals pragmatic above all, saying "there is much in the Government’s proposals that recognises [\x85] the pointlessness of fining prostitutes for soliciting when all that does is to encourage them back on to the streets to earn the money to pay the penalty" but cautioning that "This strategy risks sending out a confused message: it is OK to operate a ”mini-brothel” – but there will be zero tolerance of street prostitution and kerb crawling".

The Independent is disappointed that the legislation stopped short of managed zones where brothels would be licensed (as was considered at one point), and Alice Miles in The Times is furious at what she considers a totally gutless policy: "The world is a dirty place \x97 but this "prostitution strategy" is an absolutely filthy compromise".

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