Sex workers’ rights in Northern Ireland

With the DUP once again sliding into a comfortable majority and the law to further criminalise sex work due on June 1st, there has never been a more pertinent time to look at sex workers’ rights in Northern Ireland.

We don’t have rights, but that’s about to change. As sex workers on the front line we know the damage that the forthcoming law will do. Sweden has the highest number of rapes in Europe, sex workers are being made homeless, assaults and other crimes against sex workers are at an all time high and the most vulnerable cannot be reached by support services for outreach and condom distribution. Were that to be any other group of people denied rights, there would be outrage. But because we sell sex, that somehow lowers us on the social strata and the stigma we feel in Northern Ireland is higher than anywhere else I’ve ever worked in Europe.

We know that stigma kills, that’s why there must be change, and quickly. At Sex Workers Alliance Ireland we look to the decriminalisation model of New Zealand as being as near to perfection as there is. Sex workers in New Zealand have labour rights and are permitted to work together for safety. In Northern Ireland, if two women work together in an apartment for safety, then potentially, they can be arrested for “pimping” from each other whilst still being deemed “vulnerable victims” by the State. Indeed, it is this nonsensical law which stops a lot of sex workers coming forward to report crimes against them. They believe that the PSNI will go on to target their homes, but with two new police liaison officers in place I am working at rebuilding a relationship built on trust between sex workers and police. After all, we are on the same page with a view on harm reduction.

Why decriminalisation as opposed to legalisation ? The debate in Northern Ireland has been derailed constantly with referrals to Germany and Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. But that’s not the model we’re seeking, as there are problems in Germany for example with the announcement of possible forced STI testing and counselling too. It is up to each individual sex worker to devise their own care plan, State intervention denies us agency and treats us like cattle. It’s also not helpful to refer to 127 deaths in Amsterdam when some of the women concerned weren’t even sex workers and a sizeable proportion of the murders took place when the women were working alone and vulnerable, BEFORE legalisation came in.

So what does decriminalisation do for one of society’s most marginalised groups ? In our recent human rights policy paper, SWAI outlined the reasons.

– Respect for human rights and dignity
– Reduces violent incidences and fear of violence
– Increases sex workers’ access to justice
– Increases sex workers’ access to services and supports
– Promotes safer work conditions for sex workers
– Reduces health risks including the risk of HIV
– Challenges stigma and discrimination against sex workers
– Does not increase the numbers involved in sex work
– Facilitates more effective responses to trafficking and exploitation
– Recognises the choices that many women, men and transgender people make and provides protections for rather than limitations to those choices.

A recent report from Sweden shows that the number of purchasers of sex has not changed since the inception of the law. Ergo, the law has failed in it’s initial attempt to “end demand”. I can’t let Northern Ireland become a failure too.

In the end, rights are not won in university or even television debates, nor on social media. Rights are won through the courts and that is why I will raise a challenge in the High Court in Belfast which may go all the way to Strasbourg. Sex workers deserve the right to work in safety and I will not let them down, unlike 81 politicians in Stormont.

Laura Lee is a sex worker and a sex workers’ rights campaigner. You can find her on twitter @glasgaelauralee

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  • Dan

    Don’t hold your breath waiting for the ‘feminists’ of Northern Ireland to speak up on your behalf………….

  • David Arnold

    It’s very notable that both Westminster and the Scottish Assembly rejected client criminalisation recently, but as always with anything involving sex, Stormont and the DUP in particular, has to do their best to ban it.

    All the best with your legal challenge. Sex worker safety and basic rights are hugely important and need to be safeguarded rather than ignored in the name of local morality.

  • Laura Lee

    Belfast Feminist Network are right behind me.

  • Dan

    I stand corrected.

  • chrisjones2

    You have no rights. You are weemin and Jezabels who lead men into sin. The Bible prescribes your role

  • Laura Lee

    I think you’ll find the men find the path to Sin all by themselves. 😉

  • Gopher

    Im all for taxing the Black economy surely some licencing scheme would help public finances

  • IrishSonic

    As a taxpayer, I’d love to know how much the DUP’s crusades – gay blood, gay marriage, sex workers – are going to going to cost me when they all inevitably end up in court

  • chrisjones2

    Never!!!! I blame Belezebub

  • chrisjones2

    You cannot do that ……. DUP Members already must have to pay a premium (at least in angst)

    Best thing would be for all sex workers to refuse to provide a service to member of the DUP until this is lifted. Then they would have to go to England for it. Just as with abortion

  • El_Commi

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the high rate of rape and sexual assault in Sweden due to how they are recorded and categorized and as such makes for poor comparison to other countries?

  • Korhomme

    Perhaps; it seems that in Sweden the Court decides whether you have been raped or not. The Courts seem to have very odd ideas at times; overall, the rates might well be higher than the Courts think.

  • murdockp

    DUP sold us this as legislation to stop people trafficking. The truth is that people trafficking is a more of a problem in the restaurant, food and beauty industries.

    I said it before that this is puritan legislation and very sinister at that.

    It should be repealed ASAP and propertly thought through.

  • Dan

    Nothing to do with the numbers coming in to ‘enrich’ the country?

  • Gopher

    If two consenting adults want to make a financial arrangement for sex and the public purse can get a cut of it I’m all for it. Administering whatever system put into place would also create employment in the public sector unless it is put out to tender. What exactly are the moral issues against this?

  • David

    The number of human trafficking cases involving prostitution in NI last year was zero. It’s difficult to see how the new puritan law can improve on that.

    Also if it really was about trafficking, the same legislation wouldn’t have been rejected by both Westminster and the Scottish Assembly in the last year.

    You’re absolutely correct that this is about a moral crusade, with the voices of sex workers (most of whom are there by choice as stated by the PSNI) very deliberately ignored.

  • Korhomme

    And, in the broadest sense, agriculture and farming.

    Those who employ such trafficked people are not specifically targeted by the Act.

  • chrisjones2

    The Lord will provide. Its only money when your soul is at stake

  • chrisjones2

    “properly thought through.”

    Dear Heavens. It is the DUP we are talking about!!!

  • chrisjones2

    At least this time they mainly focused on heterosexual activity not , as usual, on male homosexuals who seem a particular obsession. I do wonder why

  • chrisjones2

    Its normally called marriage

  • El_Commi

    No.

  • Gopher

    I thought that was just a racket to keep lawyers in pocket.

  • David

    It’s all part of the DUPs rich fundamentalist tapestry, the age old attempt to regulate sexual activity between consenting adults.

    Probably worth mentioning that the US have had criminalisation in place for over a century, yet it patently hasn’t worked. The best solution appears to be in New Zealand, where sex workers are given the same rights and protections as other workers and allowed to work together in small numbers for safety. It’s notable that the Stormont delegation ignored New Zealand and instead visited Sweden, where criminalisation has been a moral success but has failed to convincingly prove itself in any other area.

  • Korhomme

    Just had a thought; if two people are in a flat, with one of them ‘working’ and the other a maid/receptionist/bouncer or whatever, then it’s still a ‘brothel’. So ‘sex workers’ are the only people, as far as I know, who are required by law to work alone. This wouldn’t be acceptable elsewhere. In what way does that increase their security and safety? And if it doesn’t, and the Act was all about protecting the vulnerable, then why wasn’t this addressed?

  • patrick23

    “forced STI testing… denies us agency ..and treats us like cattle” . Is your agency the priority here?

  • Dan

    Hmmmm

  • Laura Lee

    Our safety is the priority here as sex workers are being beaten, raped and murdered. But while I’m here, what other industry can you name which deems it okay to force women to undergo forced invasive STI testing ?

  • David

    A couple of points here ‘anon’.

    First of all, selling adult sexual services in the UK and Ireland is not a criminal offence at present and it won’t be under new legislation either. Stormont have adopted the Swedish Model, where only the buyer is criminalised.

    Your statement that women (there are male sex workers too) only go into sex work when ‘desperate for cash’ is incorrect. Sex work tends to pay considerably more per hour than most types of work and allows for flexible working hours. Some use sex work to supplement other earned income, while others work for a set period of time before leaving. Sex workers do not conform to any one stereotype.

    I’m not sure how you equate gambling with sex work, but many sex workers certainly do pay tax on their income.

  • patrick23

    I clearly meant that I believe agency to be below health in priority, whereas you’d suggested that the sex worker making their health choices was more important than say risk to a client.
    Which industry other then the sex industry runs serious risk of sexually transmitted infection? I’m sure you’d agree transmission of infection is more likely in a sex worker client transaction than say an accountant and client transaction

  • Laura Lee

    I’m sorry, what ? I’m not talking about the likelihood of infection here, since there is no data that I’m aware of to compare sex workers to accountants on that score. I’m talking about safety. There is no law I’m aware of which compels accountants to work alone on a Friday night making every potential attacker aware of the fact that they’re alone, vulnerable and very possibly carrying cash too. That’s what needs to change.

  • David

    You’re clearly not too knowledgeable on local sex work Anon and to be fair you’re not alone there.

    You talk about ”the streets of Belfast.” The PSNI state that there are less than 20 street workers in total in all of NI. This isn’t unusual as most sex work in western Europe has moved indoors via the internet.

    You talk about ”money problems.” That’s the main reason anyone goes to work, whether it’s in a bank, a supermarket or whatever. Why do you suppose sex work is somehow different?

  • patrick23

    We’re talking about “forced” STI testing. You actually asked me a question about it
    I haven’t mentioned working alone, a point which I found uncontroversial

  • David

    I haven’t personally seen any evidence that paramilitaries are involved here, but criminalising the transaction is much more likely to encourage future criminal involvement.

    The term ‘sex work’ refers to escorts, street workers, cam workers, dominas, lap dancers etc. Your stereotyping of ‘prostitutes’ is well off the mark, but typical of someone with no real knowledge of the subject.

    Your second paragraph is pretty crass and again lacking in actual knowledge. Let’s say you’re someone (male or female) who doesn’t have a problem providing sexual services (and there are plenty who simply see it as work). Would you rather earn £100+ an hour doing sex work or £8 an hour stacking shelves?

    You seem to assume that sex workers aren’t educated or intelligent. Many are. They choose to do sex work, often on a temporary or part time basis, simply because the money is good and they don’t mind the work.

  • David

    There are a wide spectrum of individuals involved in sex work, for many different reasons, and the same applies to buyers.

    For those who do choose sex work due to financial hardship, isn’t it better to address the reasons for such situations, rather than spend huge amounts of money and resources on chasing adults engaged in overwhelmingly consensual sex?

    I’m not sure how criminalising either side of the transaction is going to help sex workers, regardless of their motivations or circumstances. In the US for instance, where it has been a crime for over a century, there are still hundreds of thousands of sex workers, again in varying circumstances, not only doing the work, but risking arrest and imprisonment.

    The current legislation passed in NI has been rejected in the rest of the UK, one of the main reasons being that sex workers were consulted (unlike here) and made it very clear that criminalising their customers would not help any of their situations.

  • David

    Sorry Anon, but again you’re misinformed.

    Feminism is divided on the sex work issue, but those who oppose it are a much more vociferous lobby and were in fact the driving force behind the Swedish Model as far back as 1999.

    The feminist argument against sex work is a flawed one. Firstly, if they respect a woman’s choice over her own body, why should they seek to prevent her choosing to make money selling sexual services?

    Secondly, they don’t seem to have any problem with male sex workers. Where for instance is the ‘rescue industry’ for gay male escorts?

    Thirdly, casual (often drunken) sex with strangers via nightclubs, hook-up sites etc is apparently just fine with feminists, yet the women involved are being deliberately targetted by men, treated as ‘sex objects’ (to use your phrase), are often under the influence of alcohol or drugs and recieve no money for doing so.

    Recent legislation against sex work has been driven by a rather bizarre alliance of feminists and religionists. In effect, it has simply made sex workers lives more difficult and dangerous, but Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald summed it up rather nicely last year when she said she wanted to ”send a message.” That’s really what this is all about — moral disapproval, with a nice side order of funding for various NGOs.

    I’m glad you’re against criminalisation Anon. On that we agree. Good night.

  • Laura Lee

    You don’t think forcing a vulnerable woman to work alone is controversial ? Even if it means she is beaten, robbed and raped ? Okaaay then. Forced STI testing of any human being is at best, demeaning.

  • patrick23

    You keep implying that I support rape,murder, theft etc. I’m commenting on your article, which suggests that working alone is “a bad thing” and that people should be allowed to work in groups. I found your suggestion on this to be so uncontroversial as to be not worthy of comment I.e I entirely agree with your broad point that this legislation is entirely flawed and have never disagreed once.
    The only part of your article that I commented on, disagreeing with, was the idea that government intervention was of itself a bad thing, notably in the area of STI testing. This would be “demeaning ” you say, whereas a sex worker themselves choosing the same thing wouldn’t be. I don’t believe the freedom to make that choice (the agency) is an imperative over an informed public health policy meeting the needs of worker and consumer.

  • Laura Lee

    The state has no right to interfere in the bodily integrity of it’s citizens. That’s a basic human right and is in fact enshrined in the Irish constitution. Were I a German sex worker, I’d sue.

  • patrick23

    If you were German it might make an interesting test case. The US Supreme Court didn’t hold it that way, allowing blood testing for example which is relevant (in terms of both the universality of the right, and the nature of STI testing).
    My interest, as I’ve mentioned, is that you placed agency and this right above for example, the rights of the consumer to make an informed choice regarding possible infection.
    It also disregards responsibility, if every sex worker can make their own decision on a tolerable programme of sexual health.
    If compulsory STI testing is one extreme, yours is a laissez-faire response in the opposite.
    This is largely why your twitter research on doctors was flawed. Whilst we may not mandate compulsory STI testing on doctors (and noting that the patient is more likely to infect them than vice versa), we’d find it intolerable for every doctor to approach the risk however they pleased. We trust them because they use data, interpreted and published in peer reviewed journals establishing and constantly reevaluating best practise, and where this isn’t adhered to, there’s processes to whistle blow. All of this is bound up in legislation and government guidelines. Further, doctors are educated to interpret and critique the information presented.
    Sex worker’s practises may not be as stringent as this.

  • Laura Lee

    Now we get to the heart of it. “Sex worker’s practices may not be as stringent as this.” Our bodies are our livelihoods, so it is in our best interests to look after ourselves. I’m hearing you say that sex workers can’t be trusted to make the same informed decisions as doctors, am I wrong in that interpretation ? Because by implication you’re applying the same stigma which actually pushes sex workers AWAY from outreach services. Here is a useful link –

    http://poststop.tumblr.com/post/32947713588/a-rebloggable-version-of-this-post-with-some

  • patrick23

    The livelihoods bit assumes everyone is a rational actor, or that their balance of risk and reward is perfect.
    You are wrong in your interpretation, other end of the telescope. We can “trust” doctors not just because they work with their rational self interest in mind (like your sex workers with their livelihood justification) but also because they exist inside a framework backed by legislation and evidence based best practise, openly published and reviewable by anyone

  • Kate Jeans

    Sex work has no comparison to gambling whatsoever or the motivation for doing it. It is a job, as simple as that and you do not have to be ‘desperate’ to resort to it. It is also not sexist, it’s about attraction. Most men are attracted to women, therefore go to women, but there are also plenty of men that book men too, as that is their preference.

    Also many sex workers do pay tax, which again is a generalisation that they don’t, in the same way they are not all dependent on drugs or alcohol or have no other choices.

  • Kate Jeans

    So on those terms no sex worker can own a house or a car or have a credit card, as they would have no credit history, How do they avoid the tax man if they do have any of those things? Surely they will wonder how they pay for them? You can’t get away with not paying tax for long periods of time, unless you are implying that all sex workers also claim job seekers and if you are then I’m really going to get pissed off, because that is as good as calling them all thieves too!

  • Kate Jeans

    Wow, what a total load of crap!

  • Kate Jeans

    How can you say you are not judgmental when you have used every stereotype known for prostitution in your messages like they were facts?

    Then after doing that you actually admit that there maybe some sex workers out there that do it by choice and not desperation, but we’re not talking about them, like they don’t count, they don’t matter and so what if they get mixed up in it all, as well, sure they can do something else? Maybe they don’t want to? Maybe they would just be left alone to work in the job that they chose and give their consent without someone else judging them morally or any other way. Surely it is their right to do what they want as long as both parties consent?

  • Kate Jeans

    This isn’t as simple as it sounds. As a self employed person in any business you do have to have various qualifications and certificates to show that you are able to do the work safely and to a standard. If sex work was considered ‘work’ and was given the same rights as other jobs, then it is possible that they could ask for sex workers to have STI tests every 3 to 6 months, say if it was based under holding a license, but there should equally be provision for these tests to be done, that make it accessible and discrete, which at the moment in Northern Ireland is not the case. It is very difficult to get tests done, as the current system requires booking a Week in advance and most sex workers tour and are not in the same place very long.

    It’s all very well dictating what sex workers should do to make it safe with regards to STI’s, but this is only the tip of the iceberg and while they do not acknowledge that the biggest threat to sex workers is the vulnerability of working alone and it is more important that they can have someone with them, be it a friend, co worker or security, than have tests, because the reality is they are far more likely to get mugged, raped or mistreated by working alone than get an STI.

    Once again it is about scare mongering and picking on the unknown (as in STI’s and facts/stats) than looking at what the real threats are, especially when they are so easily solved and at no expense to the government.

  • Laura Lee

    Hang on, one in six doctors have struggled with drug and alcohol addiction at some point in their careers, usually self prescribed meds. Can you not see that we are pushing for a framework which is evidence based too ? The evidence being that allowing us to work free of criminalisation and stigma increases our feeling of well being and access to health services.

  • patrick23

    I’ve no idea about your one in six figure,but there’s methods to deal with lack of fitness to practise. Those very methods may have produced your numbers.
    On the second, crack on I’ve never once suggested criminalisation, but id struggle with the idea that simply increasing feeling of well being and access to services is enough. Risk reduction is a process, it can always improve

  • patrick23

    But i didn’t argue that there shouldn’t be security. In fact I’d wonder why a sex worker expects to be the only business not subject to any regulation (as your small business is)

  • BarleySinger

    I wish that legalization did not almost always come with either an unworkable regulatory framework (regulate it out of existence) or irrational forms of STI testing… and of course “counselling” because the the assumption that all sex workers are victims.

    I do like the idea of current STD testing (provided by request of a client) being available, but not required.

    You can sell kisses at a kissing booth without a test for hepatitis A/B/C, strep, mono, TB and typhoid. You can work in a grocery store or a restaurant and not be tested for those things (or anything).

    Take note that our physio people / massage therapists, physicians and nurses are not all
    forced to be tested for diseases that can be passed through touch (those diseases do include herpes believe it or not).

    And our grocery store
    workers and those who harvest food at farms are not forced to have monthly/bi-monthly tests for every possible infection.

    …and then we have how prostitutes are treated

    …the image of
    the infectious prostitute is still promoted by those in government,
    ignoring the fact that both legal/decriminalized prostitution and the legal
    pornography industry, have FAR lower STI transmission rates than the
    general public does (by a huge amount).

    A positive test should also not create a ban on sex work, but ought to come with some serious education (as with every other person).

    After all, there are times when a positive test in a sex worker’s history, gives that person a reliable niche market with specific clients. After all there are HIV+ and herpes+ people who don’t want to spread around what they have, so why not let them go to sex workers who are already infected? Of course that makes too much sense (and we can’t have that).

  • BarleySinger

    In New South Whales Australia, the following are banned :

    * living on the earnings of a prostitute, although persons who own or manage a brothel are exempt
    * causing or inducing prostitution (procuring: Crimes Act s.91A,B)[35]
    * using premises, or allowing premises to be used, for prostitution
    that are held out as being available for massage, sauna baths, steam
    baths, facilities for exercise or photographic studios
    * advertising that a premises is used for prostitution, or advertising for prostitutes
    * soliciting for prostitution near or within view of a dwelling, school, church or hospital
    * advertising that anal penetration will take place
    * engaging in child prostitution (Crimes Act s.91C-F) [36]

    So if your nan is in a far better aged care home because you pay for it and are a sex worker… then she is a pimp.

    If you have kids, then so are they.

    If your partner is disabled and as a couple you make too much to qualify for a disability pension – then your disabled partner is a pimp

    ————– and yes ————–
    In the UK where all brothels are illegal, two sex workers who share a flat, are officially each others pimps. A hotel regularly used by a sex worker, might be considered a brothel.

  • BarleySinger

    >has been a moral success

    depends on what you means by morals. If one believes that taking away any hope at reasonable treatment of a bunch of humans … by their own government … is ‘moral’. As with many people I consider ‘morals’ to be an issue of religion, and ethics to be an issue of appropriate treatment.

  • BarleySinger

    a fair number of females (straight and not) also pay for sex… tons of disabled people have no other recourse (many have to hire a ‘third party helper’)

  • BarleySinger

    feminists were one of the driving forces for the liberalizing of sex work laws in New South Wales Australia.

  • BarleySinger

    you do not have to be desperate. Certainly not. However in screwed up nations like the USA, where there is no real ‘safety net’… where abused teens can’t just turn to the state for a way to survive (which they do here in Australia)… how are they to eat… at 15 years old… when nobody will hire them for a job that pays well enough to live on? In the USA… the lack of a realistic social safety net, the forcing of kids BACK into abusive homes if they flee them (runaways are forcibly taken home by the police, in most of the USA) leaves very few options. If you go to a shelter they are often legally required to hand you over to “social services” who will then send you back home to the abusive assholes you fled from.

    However – that sort of thing… is a USA thing, created by their utter stupidity when it comes to reasonable laws.

  • BarleySinger

    no other industry has it’s people treated this way by governments.

    There was a time when people who handled food had to be tested for T.B. (and other nasties). Not these days.

    The difference mostly has to do with the mythic image of the disease riddled sex worker (from the Victorian era) is STILL up front in politicians minds. Religion is stamped into society and thus there MUST be something ‘bad’ (a penalty) … even though in the real world, those locations with legal sex work have very low disease transmission rates.

    Overall, the largest spreaders of diseases are sick people who will not stay home form work/school… their sneezes, and the doorknobs and telephones they use.

    Serious disease issues among sex workers tends only to exist in poor places without proper education, without access to barrier contraception.

    It’s very easy to avoid this, but you have to WANT to. You have to be ‘pragmatic’ instead of ‘dogmatic’.

    Legal sex work (especially in a place where there is a safety net, and a way for teens to flee from abuse without winding up on the street) don’t have these issues.

  • David

    I personally regard morality as whatever the majority in a society are willing to accept at any given time, regardless of local religious diktat. A recent example here would be co-habitation, referred to as ‘living in sin’ a few decades ago, but rarely even remarked on today. See also contraception, homosexuality and divorce.

    In the context of the Swedish Model, my ‘moral success’ comment referred to opinion polls indicating that public disapproval of sex work had sharply increased. In this context, Fitzgerald’s stated aim of ”sending a message” is a rare glimpse of honesty in what has been an appallingly deceitful campaign.

  • Kate Jeans

    Thankfully we are not going the way of the US, although I wouldn’t be fooled by the systems in place by Ireland and the UK. I’m not sure the Madalane Laundries would not have been so successful without the backing of the government and a lot of those girls were not there of their own free will or as a better alternative to starvation.

    I’m not really sure how referring to the US helps in this situation, unless it is to say that it could be worse?

  • Kate Jeans

    I never said you argued with it, I was just making a point as to where people are being misled. I assume you won’t be the only person reading my response.

    Where did I say that I didn’t think sex workers should be subject to regulation? Personally I don’t think it is a bad thing, as long as it is realistic and provisions made. However, since we are not recognised as a small business, then any conformity is and should be voluntary.

  • BarleySinger

    since far more sex (with tons of partners) occurs without commerce being involved, and that “non commerce” sex is a far larger source of STI transmission… are you “for” EVERY consenting adult being required to have a recent STI test to have legal sexual contact? If not why not? Why single out the sex workers. I’ve known tons of people with lots of partners (some more than 7 every week), and most of these people took a lot less care on disease prevention than the sex workers I’ve known do.

  • patrick23

    I’d assumed that you were directing the entire reply to me, no problem.
    I’d also misread and hadn’t realised your small business in question was sex work. I think everything you’ve written is fine.
    On the point of your last original paragraph, I’d have never raised any concern on STI testing other than I queried that when the author flagged it up, their position was on a rights based individually self regulating side. I merely wondered why something, as you propose, in the middle wasn’t better. I’d no interest in scaremongering, if you believe I was, I was actually interested in statism of Germany vs libertarianism and some compromise in the middle I suppose

  • patrick23

    I’m not actually “for” anything. I questioned why a sex worker could decide themselves whatbest practise was, say a monthly test, but a government regulation to say a monthly test was to treat someone like cattle. I questioned why because no matter how high the standards of any individual sex worker, such an approach would allow for lowest common denominator in some instances.
    Why single out sex workers? We regulate to protect the consumer in any commercial transaction I can think of. As you mentioned supermarket food workers in this thread, if I gave you a sandwich and it made you sick you’d have no recourse really other then to shout at me. If Tesco gave you a bad sandwich they could be prosecuted.
    For the avoidance of doubt, I don’t actually care about the regulation of STI here, I just wanted to test why it should be entirely self regulating and whether there would be a place somewhere on the spectrum between that, and Germany

  • BarleySinger

    true in the USA, which has lost the majority of its rights to any form of privacy… often starting in the work place. You can now be forced to give ANY bodily exudation (or internal fluid) on demand in order to continue participate in anything (even the job, without which you can’t afford to eat) with any or no reason given. Sure the COPS need a warrant or at least probable cause… but not your boss, the department of health, etc, etc

  • patrick23

    I had compulsory drug testing (blood) in a contract in Northern Ireland. Think the British military do it, but they’re presumably under an exemption in employment law. Athletes too of course, unannounced,at your home

  • BarleySinger

    a whole lot of sex workers depend on their “regulars” for a big hunk of their regular income. The last thing you want to do is give something to them (and risk losing them). Building relationships with trusted regular clients is important. That means being careful, using condoms, getting tested.

    The difference between this and mandatory testing for sex workers is, as I said, that MOST STI’s are passed “outside of commerce”, and often by people who are -extremely- sexually active (and are not honest about their number of partners). Young people in the UK are having amazing amounts of unsafe sex right now. So should that ‘vast majority’ of people all have to get STI tests too (to legally be allowed to have sex)? If not, why not? Wouldn’t that be unfairly targeting the sex workers (who already have a vested interest in not losing their regular customers to a case of the clap).

    Note also that a ‘positive test’ for a thing that does not go away, need not mean an end to ones sex worker career… especially given that there are CLIENTS out there with the same problem, who don’t want to spread around the thing they caught…and also given that there are quite a lot of people who are in marriages where 1 partner is HIV+, and the other is not, and the negative person does not catch it.

    Condoms, and staying on the antivirals (which produce a very low viral load) do wonders.

  • BarleySinger

    doctors have a far higher rate of drug abuse/misuse than people on pain medication for actual pain do…yet for some reasons the docs tend to be left alone, and the pain patients are constantly judged, forced to take random pee tests, etc. My point here is that MOST societal expectations (and the laws based on them) are not based on reality…and are actually prejudices.

  • BarleySinger

    marriage isn’t supposed to be an arrangement in which sex is exchanged for material goods, or in which PEOPLE are exchanged for material goods..

    note also that parents are not supposed to be pimps, or slavers either… ie … marriage also in NOT supposed to be a financial arrangement in which a father (or other male relative) sells access to a females vagina/sexuality/reproduction (and of course that person’s ongoing household labor) – for life. That is called sexual slavery.

  • BarleySinger

    sure. jusk read St Augustine… who said humanity was doomed to hell because we have “unruly genitals” (he believed every other part of the body did exactly what we told it to do at all times)… and that the “original sin” was Adam and Eve having sex for fun. His writing became the official theology of the Roman Catholic Church (and they still are).

    St Augustine of Hippo started out as a member of the religion of Manacheism, a gnostic faith in which EVERYTHING fun were “evil”, all things physical were “bad”, only spirit could be “pure” … and “women” were deemed to be the greatest evil of all and the cause of all the worlds evils.

    Augustine (already a famous teacher of renown) eventually swore to have changed faiths (to the second largest one of his era – Christianity). He swore he had recanted his earlier ideas.

    He then went on for decades, writing the theology of Manacheism into his ‘Christian’ sermons and essays..a large number of which influenced the official theology of the church..

  • Kate Jeans

    The New Zealand law is by far the best solution on offer and could easily be adapted to suit Ireland, while still giving sex workers support and help eliminating any trafficking that is taking place.
    Sex work is just one business that I am involved in. At my age when I have been working before it was actually legal (helped in family business), you don’t really feel static or defined by your work (which I know you were not suggesting).
    Currently it is the right job for me, but it is not who I am or all I am capable of, although I do believe I am good at it and do have a skill base that I use and will use in any future jobs that I have.
    This is the only job I have had however, where I feel I need to fight for the right to ‘belong’, be ‘heard’ or have any rights as a human being, which I believe is a very high price to pay when I don’t believe I am doing anything wrong and certainly don’t believe anyone is doing anything wrong to me, as this is my choice. I just wish people would accept that it is a job that I’m doing and not a lifestyle and nothing out of the ordinary or desperate about it. I enjoy it. It’s all the red tape, lies and secrecy that I hate.