21 May 2015
Though the dust has barely settled following the recent general election, people around the country are already taking a long hard look at the Tory manifesto to see how the new government’s policies will affect them.
One group that could see their industry and the laws relating to it change dramatically over the next few years is sex workers. A common target for politicians looking for easy vote winning policies, sex workers have seen political attitudes to their industry change significantly over the years.
Current status of sex work
Contrary to popular belief, selling sex in the UK is legal. However, as many people working in the industry already know, soliciting, pimping and brothels aren’t.
In recent years more and more organisations have called for the full decriminalisation of sex work in the UK, with the World Health Organisation, The Lancet and The Economist all in favour of legalisation.
However, in October 2014, Labour MP Fiona MacTaggart attempted to add two clauses to the Modern Slavery Bill that would have effectively outlawed the selling of sex altogether. Though this proved popular with a cross section of MPs, sex workers argued it would make their lives more dangerous, driving them deeper underground and making it more difficult to access support.
Thanks to the efforts of sex workers and related groups the clauses weren’t passed. However they are still being debated and could come into force in the future.
How will new policies affect sex workers?
Unlike the Liberal Democrats who are firmly in favour of decriminalisation, the Tories are, unsurprisingly, more conservative in their approach. Though the party doesn’t currently plan to criminalise the selling of sex, the cuts that they are planning to public services are likely to affect sex workers in a number of different ways.
From reduced funding for the NHS to cuts to local services and support organisations, sex workers are set to see a lot of changes over the next five years. Though organisations that support sex workers will strive to continue to offer the same services even with less funding, a reduction in the quality and abundance of resources available to sex workers may well be inevitable.
If you’d like to find out more about the resources and support available to sex workers, get in touch with Doorway Women’s Services today on 0808 800 1030.