Saturday, 7 November 2009

Victory for Demand Change!

From Object....

BREAKING NEWS: Victory as Peers vote for women, not pimps and punters!

Victory as Peers vote for women, not pimps and punters!

The Demand Change! Campaign is delighted to announce a major victory for women exploited by the sex industry, as last night the House of Lords voted in favour of Clause 14 (formerly 13) of the Policing & Crime Bill[i], putting the rights of exploited women over those of pimps and punters.

In focusing on the demand for sexual services, Clause 14 shifts criminal liability away from people exploited through prostitution and places responsibility firmly on the shoulders of those who contribute to commercial sexual exploitation by choosing to purchase girls, boys, women and men for sexual use.

This is a huge achievement for the 67 women's and human rights organisations[ii] which supported this bill, and which campaigned tirelessly to obtain justice for the women, children and men who have for so long been exploited by the sex industry. Many of these organisations attended the successful Demand Change! mass support rally in Parliament Square just before the vote[iii], calling on Peers to `Vote for Women, not Pimps and Punters!' (see photos of the protest here

Comments from Eaves chief executive Denise Marshall:
"This is fantastic news. Legislation to make it an offence to pay for sex with someone subject to force, who has been exploited, is a no-brainer. It should clearly be illegal. I am delighted for the women whom we support, who have a right to live without fear of force, violence or exploitation, and for whom this law is crucial.

"The vital next step in the process is for those exploited in prostitution to be fully decriminalised and provided with high quality support to exit the sex industry safely, and the Demand Change! campaign will continue to press for this."

Comments from Anna van Heeswijk, OBJECT:
"Clause 14 brings the buyer out of the shadows and says that as a society we put the rights of vulnerable women, children and men above the right of punters to buy sex. This is a major victory for all those who have been exploited – many of whom shared their stories in a film screened in front of a packed audience in the House of Commons on the eve of the debate – and it is also a victory for all those who have joined the campaign to end commercial sexual exploitation by tackling demand. Thank you Peers for listening to our protest chants and for deciding to `vote for women, not pimps and punters!'"

Testimony from "Angel", a survivor of prostitution:
"I had to say I enjoyed it and that I chose it – it's what the johns want to hear, and as a prostitute I existed for their pleasure, my body and words were there for their pleasure. The real me was effectively mute.

It makes sense to target the johns and criminalise them, because they hold the money and they have all the power."

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