More on the Poppy Project’s prostitution report.

// 10 September 2008

From Julie Bindel at The Guardian:

…our researchers discovered [that] brothels market women merely as merchandise. Frank was offered “two for the price of one” if he visited during “happy hour” (any time before 5pm). One brothel owner offered to send two women to the punter’s home for a £50 delivery charge; another offered free oral sex without a condom if more than £50 was spent; and at one suburban sauna, first-time buyers were offered a voucher which entitled them to 50% off the next visit.

We primed the telephone researchers to look for evidence of trafficking. There was plenty. Brothels offered women of 77 different nationalities and ethnicities, including many from known-source countries for trafficking. One researcher was told by a brothel owner, “For no condom and anal, call tomorrow. Eastern Europeans promised later in the week.”

One punter I interviewed for another research project told me that in choosing a woman, “I made a list in my mind. I told myself that I’ll be with different races eg Japanese, Indian, Chinese. Once I have been with them I tick them off the list.”

More here.

Comments From You

Hela // Posted 10 September 2008 at 3:04 pm

Sorry, I can’t agree with what Harriet Harman is using this report for. Prostitution should be legal, regulated and taxed. Trying to make it illegal just because some women are trafficked is like banning clothes shops because some people shoplift. It is a demented over-reaction and it would make the position of women much much worse.

Banning men for paying for sex would renationalise our bodies and put them at the disposal of the state again. That is utterly reactionary and in fact facist. We as individuals decide what we do with our bodies – not men, not the state, not the patriarchy or the matriarchy for that matter. And that includes selling sex.

Banning men paying for sex would also, of course, not stop the sex industry. It would drive it underground with even less protection for the women who work in it, who are sometimes already the most vulnerable women in society. We have been using the argument for years that banning abortion would not stop it, just drive women to secret, unsafe, back street abortions. Banning prosititution would have the same effect on prostitutes, but where is the compassion for them?

At best the Poppy Report is flimsy and unconvincing. Prostitutes from abroad do not in the least suggest they have been trafficked. Nor necesserily do the presence of prostitutes from countries know as sources of trafficked women. That is a totally unwarranted assumption. What the Poppy report is really saying is that despite trying they could not find even one trafficked woman.

I do not doubt women are trafficked, it is slavery and total denial of human rights and it should be rooted out with the guilty given exemplary sentences. But we don’t ban Islam in reaction to 9/11 and 7/7 and we shouldn’t ban prostitution in reaction to trafficking.

Giving power back to the state over all our bodies would create a situation that is WORSE than the problem, taking away our fundamental rights in order to take the wind out of some criminals’ sails. NO WAY.

Xander Harris // Posted 10 September 2008 at 4:39 pm

Bindel, characteristically, can’t help but obfuscate the seperation between street and non-street prostitution.

“one large US study on prostitution and violence found that 82% of women had been physically assaulted since entering the trade, with many having been raped. More than 80% were homeless, and a majority, on and off-street, were addicted to illegal drugs and/or alcohol.”

Notice how she does not specify whether the US study was centred on street or non-street prostitution. No seperation of that 80% figure on drug and alcohol addictions into on and off-street either. I wonder why?

“A common assumption is that brothels are safer than the street, and while it seems that women are more likely to be murdered if they are working on the streets, the prevalence of rape and other attacks from pimps and punters is also high in brothels”

No stats on this, just anecdotal evidence.

“We primed the telephone researchers to look for evidence of trafficking. There was plenty. Brothels offered women of 77 different nationalities and ethnicities, including many from known-source countries for trafficking”

Plenty of evidence? There is ZERO evidence of trafficking in that paragraph.

In addiction, even a brief trawl through the internet will help you discover one thing: the huge amount of women who operate as escorts, either through an agency or independently, from private residences.

Bindel neglects to discuss this aspect of prostitution. Why?

It’s the usual Bindel stuff. A mixture of moralising, poorly deployed research and sensationalism.

Tony Moll // Posted 18 September 2008 at 8:31 am

According to the proposed ban, what happens if a man has sex with a prostitute and refuses to pay her?

SteveMD // Posted 26 April 2009 at 6:38 pm

More propaganda for laws to suppress what the “poppy project” disapproves of. Articles like this may well help bring about laws that cause more harm than good, such as the Swedish ban on buying sex. The only independent assessment of that law stated that “not only did it do nothing to help women who felt forced to go on the street, but it made life much worse for them. It also stopped any intelligence on trafficking previously gained from punters. No doubt, with the help of such articles, Jacqui Smith will do as much for the most vulnerable women here too.

Have Your say

To comment, you must be registered with The F-Word. Not a member? Register. Already a member? Use the sign in button below

Sign in to the F-Word

Further Reading

Has The F-Word whet your appetite? Check out our Resources section, for listings of feminist blogs, campaigns, feminist networks in the UK, mailing lists, international and national websites and charities of interest.

Write for us!

Got something to say? Something to review? News to discuss? Well we want to hear from you! Click here for more info

  • The F-Word on Twitter
  • The F-Word on Facebook
  • Our XML Feeds