Archive for February, 2008

* Jack Straw dropped measures to overhaul the law on prostitution yesterday to ensure that a Bill that prevents prison officers from striking is law by May.
* It means that the Government has also abandoned a plan to scrap the term “common prostitute” from the statute book — 184 years after it was first used in the Vagrancy Act 1824.

Mr Straw, the Justice Secretary, is also giving up a measure that would have barred the Court of Appeal from quashing a conviction on a technicality when there was no reasonable doubt about a person’s guilt.

He withdrew the clauses to ensure that the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which reimposes a ban on prison officers going on strike, is passed by May 8.

The deadline is crucial because the Prison Officers’ Association withdraws from a voluntary no-strike agreement on that day. If the union were to take strike action it would cause chaos in the overcrowded jails of England and Wales.

A Ministry of Justice statement said: “We are taking this action to ensure that legal protection is in place in the event of further industrial action destabilising the prison estate. We must take this action in order to meet our duty to protect the public.

“Public safety is of primary importance to us and we will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that it is not compromised or undermined. The existing agreement with the Prison Officers’ Association will come to an end on May 8, 2008.”

The statement said that after discussion with other parties, the clauses on prostitution and criminal appeals were being withdrawn to ensure that the Bill received Royal Assent by May 8.

The clauses in the Bill that the Government dropped would have meant that women who were persistently found loitering for prostitution would be given a rehabilitation order. Offenders would have had to attend at least three meetings of a rehabilitation course or face arrest and detention for up to 72 hours before being brought before a court.

The compulsory rehabilitation was to apply to those who were convicted of loitering or soliciting for the purpose of prostitution and would have been an alternative to a fine, which is widely seen as counter-productive because it forces prostitutes back on to the street to earn money to pay it.

The clause to remove the term “common prostitute” from the statute book came after a consultation that showed the phrase was regarded as stigmatising and offensive.

John McDonnell, the Labour MP for Hayes & Harlington, welcomed the move. He said: “I hope it signals a future approach towards prostitution underlined by welfare measures rather than criminalisation, putting the needs and safety of prostitutes above the desire for moral condemnation.”

Ministers are conducting a consultation on a proposal for mini-brothels that would allow two women and a maid to operate legally from premises.

Sex for sale
— An estimated 25,000 women work in brothels in Britain
— Paying for sex is not illegal in Britain, although many of the activities associated with it, including kerb-crawling and soliciting, are criminal offences
— Research suggests that a very high proportion of prostitutes are drug users — 95 per cent are drug addicts according to one study, while another suggested that 87 per cent use heroin
— Under the provisions of the Nationality, Asylum and Immigration Act, 2002, a new offence of “trafficking a person for the purpose of controlling him or her in prostitution” was introduced with a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison
Source: Foreign Office, Times Database

Hours: Full Time
Salary: NJC Scale 33-39 £26,835 – £31, 606

North Devon Women’s Aid is a well-established charity providing support for women and their children, through our refuge and outreach services. We are an innovative and dynamic organization, taking the lead in many areas within the domestic violence and abuse field. We are committed to achieving the highest levels of support and to providing appropriate, relevant services.

We are looking for a resolute and enthusiastic Manager with excellent leadership, interpersonal and planning skills. Committed to continuing the good work of our expanding and dynamic team, you will be responsible for the management, maintenance and development of all our services.

Closing Date: 7th March 2008

Please phone 01271 321946 or e-mail for job description and application pack.


2 days per month

DVIP is an innovative voluntary sector project and registered charity. We aim to increase the safety of women and children experiencing domestic violence by providing a range of diverse services challenging men, supporting women, working in partnership, influencing policy and campaigning for change.

Are you passionate about ending domestic violence?
Could you take a leading role in a pioneering charity?
Can you help a groundbreaking charity to develop?

We are seeking an experienced, motivated and passionate person who can lead the board of Trustees, work closely with the Chief Executive, represent DVIP and oversee the organisation’s strategic direction. This is a superb chance to lead a growing charity which is a leader in its field, at an important stage in its history. You will help to make women and children safer through supporting our groundbreaking work.

You will have excellent interpersonal, communication, networking and negotiating skills which you may have developed from a range of professional backgrounds. You will have experience of being a Trustee or other leadership roles. Ideally you’ll also be able to influence key individuals who can support the organisation’s aims and development. You should be prepared to devote at least 2 days each month to fulfilling the role.

DVIP will offer a comprehensive induction and/or a period of handover with the outgoing Chair as required. The post is unremunerated, but out of pocket expenses will be paid.

For more information and an application pack please contact Rachel Carter, Vice-Chair on 07789 441245 or

Closing date: 12/03/08.

The United Nations has never run out of statistics to reinforce its arguments against one of the most troubling issues the world over: gender discrimination.

The Asia Pacific region alone is losing between 42 billion and 47 billion dollars annually because of women’s limited access to employment opportunities, according to a U.N. study, and another 16 billion to 30 billion dollars annually as a result of gender gaps in education.

The world body also says that one in three women in the world is likely to be subjected to violence in her lifetime.

And according to the World Bank, a sister institution of the United Nations, women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria.

The U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), on the other hand, points out that women make up about 70 percent of the world’s poor and 67 percent of the world’s illiterate.

Elizabeth Mataka, the U.N.’s special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, estimates that nearly half of all adults living with HIV worldwide are women.

And perhaps one of the most neglected gender-oriented issues revolves round the under-funding of women’s activities around the world – and also at the United Nations.

All of these issues will be debated at a two week session of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) Feb. 25 through Mar. 7, which is expected to draw over 5,000 participants from governments, civil society and international organisations.

The meeting is scheduled to feature more than 240 side events, both inside and outside the U.N. headquarters in New York.

“Where is the money to sustain women’s movements for justice and empowerment,” asks the NGO (non-governmental organisation) Committee on the Status of Women.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon complains that the global commitments on gender equality and empowerment of women since the 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, and the 2002 International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) in Monterrey, Mexico, “have yet to be implemented”.

“Despite a growing body of evidence demonstrating that gender equality makes good economic sense, and the calls for gender mainstreaming in economic policies and public finance management, adequate resources have not been systematically allocated,” he says in a 21-page report to be discussed at the CSW session.

Among other things, the study calls for an increase in the share of development assistance specifically targeting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

According to a study by the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit in London, of the 69 billion dollars in official development assistance in 2003, only 2.5 billion dollars was allocated to gender equality, as a principal objective. The situation has not changed significantly since then.

In his report, the secretary-general also urges international financial institutions to take gender perspectives into account in loan approvals, debt servicing and debt relief, in compliance with commitments to gender equality.

A follow-up to the FfD conference is scheduled to take place in Qatar in late November, where funding for gender activities is expected to be on the agenda. The secretary-general has asked the CSW to ensure that the preparations for, and outcome of, the Qatar conference “fully incorporate gender perspectives.”

Meanwhile, women’s organisations have also complained that the United Nations itself has failed to provide necessary funding for gender-related activities in its own backyard.

The combined budgets of all of the U.N. women’s entities — including UNIFEM, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues (OSAGI) and the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) — totalled only about 65 million dollars in 2006 and twice that amount for 2007.

Still, it pales in significance to the annual budget for the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF, which was about 2.34 billion dollars.

Charlotte Bunch, executive director of the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership at Rutgers University, told IPS that the CSW sessions will be an important forum to discuss strengthening resources for women’s rights at the United Nations.

With the theme of “Financing for Gender Equality”, there is an opportunity for the CSW to address the serious under-resourcing of women’s rights and gender equality at the United Nations which women’s groups have been raising ever since the Beijing World Conference in 1995.

At that time, and at both the five and 10-year reviews of that conference, women’s groups emphasised that the only way the Beijing Platform for Action can come close to being realised is to increase dramatically the funding for women’s rights at the national and global levels.

“We hope that this CSW will address this seriously and recommend actions that can be taken by the General Assembly to redress this lack,” Bunch said.

The issue of creating a consolidated and strengthened U.N. entity for women can be seen as one of the important steps that the United Nations could take to address this problem because it provides a way for the work on gender equality to be more effectively organised as well as better funded, she added.

A proposal for a new U.N. women’s agency — to be headed by an under-secretary-general, the third highest ranking position in the world body — has remained in limbo, despite support from the secretary-general.

The proposal can be a reality only when it is eventually approved by the 192-member General Assembly. But member states have been dragging their feet — either for political or financial reasons.

Bunch said the issue is still very much alive with NGOs and with many governments, “and we hope that the CSW will give added momentum to last year’s call by (a high-level) panel of world leaders for initiating this key U.N. reform that has been endorsed by both the previous secretary-general and the current secretariat.”

Certainly, she added, the CSW should include support for strengthening the U.N.’s institutional arrangements for gender equality in its agreed conclusions.

“There are many scenarios for how this can be done but the CSW, as the U.N. political body mandated to address this issue, should lead the way in moving this agenda forward,” Bunch declared.

The United Nations launched on Monday a campaign to combat violence against women and girls, calling it a global scourge affecting a third of the world’s female population.

“At least one out of every three women is likely to be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime,” U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a meeting of the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. “Through the practice of prenatal sex selection, countless others are denied the right even to exist,” he said.

In India, female infanticide and the deliberate abortion of female fetuses are illegal but still prevalent as boys are traditionally preferred to girls as breadwinners, and families have to pay huge dowries for their daughters’ marriage.

Ban said the weapons of war in the 21st century included rape and other forms of sexual violence and the kidnapping of children who are forced to be soldiers or abused as sex slaves.

Ban urged women’s groups, men across the globe, the private sector and U.N. member states to help the new initiative succeed. But he added that every country will have to adopt its own measures to address violence against women.

The campaign will run until 2015, which is also the deadline for the U.N. Millennium Development Goals aimed at halving poverty.

A new £10m campaign to crack down on domestic violence is to be launched by the Scottish government. It is hoped the money will help reduce the misery caused by attacks and assaults in the home which is estimated to cost the country’s economy around £1.5bn a year.

Latest figures estimate that there were 47,000 such incidents in Scotland last year, however, experts believe that figure to be just the tip of the iceberg.

Heather Coady of Women’s Aid Scotland said that, in her experience, most victims endure up to 35 attacks before even bothering to formally report them. “We know that many, many women do not come forward at all,” she said. “Alcohol, drug and sexual abuse as well as health and poverty issues can all be traced back to domestic violence.”

Another problem is the number of children who witness, almost daily, attacks in the home. The trauma of what they see can remain with them for years. Coady said the number of youngsters caught up in this situation in Scotland could be as high as 100,000.

“It does not matter where you live or how much you earn, domestic abuse cuts across ever social divide,” said Coady. “And sometimes, for women whose husbands are outwardly respectable and pillars of society, it can be harder for them to be believed or find an outlet to make a complaint.”

Last night, a Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “In spring we will launch the National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan, which will outline our plans to improve the lives of children and young people affected by domestic abuse. Ministers have allocated £10m over the coming three years to support its implementation.”

The project will see more counsellors being trained to liaise with families affected by domestic abuse and the setting up of special referral centres where victims can go if they have been attacked.

* Stereotypical media representations of rape are damaging conviction rates when cases come to court, according to a Home Office funded study.
* The study recommends fundamental changes in the way rapes are reported in newspapers and broadcasts.

The report, entitled Just Representations? Press Reporting and the Reality of Rape, concluded that highly selective and sensational reporting of rape cases has distorted public perceptions to such an extent that juries can no longer recognise the more typical rape when they are presented with it in during a trial.

Commissioned by the Lilith project, an organisation which carries out research into violence against women, the report highlights the enormous impact of prevailing press “myths” about rape.

The study identifies a press “construct” about rape – namely that it is an outdoor crime, suffered by an unimpeachable woman at the hands of a monstrous deviant – a scenario that actually contradicts all research and crime statistics, distorting public perceptions and feeding into the criminal justice system.

The widespread belief among the public is that women are most at risk of being raped when walking alone in dark or remote areas. Although instantly recognisable, the scenario bears little resemblance to the reality of most rapes.

More than 80 per cent of rapes in the UK are perpetrated by men known to their victim, and only 13 per cent happen in public places. The widespread misconception is largely generated by the media, according to the report.

Vera Baird, the solicitor general, said: “Jurors sit down expecting to hear what they have read about in the papers, and what they get is real-life rape. After reading all the sensational stories, this does not tally, and they think ‘normal’ rape is not the same offence.”

Statistics revealed in the report – which surveyed a random selection of articles about rape and sexual assault over a 12-month period – show that vastly disproportionate press coverage was given to false rape allegations made by women, attacks by foreigners, and attacks on young girls.

Currently only 5.7 per cent of rapes reported in the UK lead to a criminal conviction, a figure which has fallen from 33 per cent in 1977. The report coincides with the launch of a campaign by women’s rights group the Fawcett Society to secure greater justice for rape victims.

Jon Collins, a senior policy officer for the Fawcett Society, said: “A more accurate media portrayal of the realities of rape will lead to a better informed public, which in turn will lead to juries and a criminal justice system that can better deliver justice for victims of rape.”

The report criticises the way in which rape is usually written about on a case-by-case basis, rather than discussed as a wider social issue, in contrast to gun and knife crime, which are typically linked to poverty or gang culture. An important recommendation of the study is the development of guidelines on the reporting of sexual violence, to be enforced by both individual newspapers and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

A spokesperson from the PCC said: “This new report has identified that the press heavily reports unusual incidents of sexual violence. However, this is what the media do – they report on things that are unusual.”

1. Is prostitution a business like any other, which should be legalised?

There are a number of reasons why prostitution is not just a business like any other. Women who sell sex report high levels of physical and sexual violence, including verbal abuse, threats and intimidation – one UK study of found that 63% of women in street and indoor prostitution had experienced violence (Barnard et al 2002). Selling access to the body also has a negative psychological and emotional impact for women. A study in five different countries found that two thirds of women in prostitution met the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (Farley et al, 1998).

The majority of those in prostitution are women, and the majority of buyers are men. Prostitution arises from and perpetuates gender inequality. The majority of women who sell sex were socially marginalised even before entering prostitution. Legalisation only serves to entrench and give government sanction to this commodification and the discrimination inherent in it. Those who profit from the legalisation are the pimps and brothel owners who become third party organisers. Legalised regimes of prostitution also cultivate the illegal dimensions such as trafficking and exploitation of children and young people.

2. Would legalising and regulating prostitution make it safer for women in prostitution?

Prostitution itself is not illegal in the UK. Activities associated with prostitution are, such as soliciting or loitering on the street and brothel management (where more than one woman sells sex) illegal, as well as a range of offences in respect of exploiting children and trafficking.

The latest research on legal brothels in Nevada shows that legalisation does not protect prostituted women from the violence, abuse and psychological and physical injury that occur in illegal prostitution (Farley, 2007). In many senses the opposite might be true. A pan-European study also found that levels of violence were high in both indoor and outdoor settings and where brothels are regulated (Transcrime, 2005). In the Netherlands, where prostitution has been legal since 2000, the government is rethinking its approach as it is seeing more and more signals that abuse of women is continuing. A research study in Germany, where prostitution was legalised in 2002, found that the reform has not delivered the hoped for benefits to women in prostitution. There is an important question about whether legalising prostitution and making it a job like any other would further reduce the already limited services for women in prostitution, including programmes for helping them exit.

3. What about women who choose to sell sex?

Research consistently finds that women involved in prostitution have backgrounds of abuse, neglect and disadvantage. Sexual and physical abuse in childhood and adolescence, family breakdown, running away, homelessness and poverty are all known factors that precede entry into prostitution. These vulnerabilities make it very difficult for women to exit destructive cycles as they may not have had the opportunity to develop life skills to manage the pressures. Accessing welfare support – housing particularly – is also very difficult for women who are socially excluded, may have criminal records and experiences of prison, and erratic lifestyles.

That it is the most vulnerable women who see prostitution as a ‘choice’ as a viable means of making money tells us that we should be thinking about how we define ‘choice’. There is no real choice unless there is a range of acceptable life options. Where there is poverty, abuse, lack of opportunity and gender discrimination, women’s real choices or options to earn a living are very limited. To take analogous example: as a society, we have decided that we won’t allow the general sale and purchase of body parts, such as kidneys. This is in no small part because we know full well that it would largely be the poor and disadvantaged who would exercise their ‘choice’ to sell body parts for cash and those more fortunate who would be able to ‘choose’ to live a healthier and longer life.

There is a group of women who say they have freely chosen to work in the sex industry. It is not clear how many of these women have sex with many customers each day as opposed to being an escort and/or doing telephone sex. There are also a small number of women who do make large amounts of money in a short space of time. These women are the tiny minority – most prostitution here and globally is prosaic and decidedly unglamorous. A recent economic analysis showed that over the lifecourse, prostitution is a route into poverty for many women (DeRiviere, 2006). Even women in legalised brothels report having to pay extortionate sums for rent, food etc and to pay pimps inside and outside the brothels. They are not always free to come and go. Whether they drink or take drugs before they enter prostitution, many end up using both drugs and/or alcohol afterwards as a way of numbing their experiences of having sex with many men every day.

4. Would legalising prostitution help sexually exploited children and young women?

As sexually exploited children and young people are found wherever there is a sex market, approaches that would expand the sex industry, such as legalisation, will increase the number of underage young women who are forced or drawn into selling sex.

Research suggests that approximately 50% of women in prostitution began selling sex under the age of 18 years old. There are a range of precipitating factors including family disruption and/or breakdown, experiences of abuse, poor educational achievement, disenfranchisement from school, running away and homelessness and substance misuse (Melrose et al 1999, O’Neill 2001, Pearce et al 2003). There are also known links between experiences of local authority care and routes into prostitution (Coy, 2007). These experiences render young women vulnerable to ‘grooming’ by older men and being forced (pimped) into selling sex. Sometimes it also appears as if young women and girls are ‘choosing’ to enter prostitution. The children’s charity Barnardos refers to this as ‘constrained choice’ (Harper & Scott, 2005), recognising that sexually exploited young women have histories of social and personal disadvantage that shape their decision-making processes.

In England and Wales, young people under 18 are recognised in government policy to be victims of abuse through sexual exploitation and should be offered statutory multi-agency support. However, there is a clause within this policy that means young people who ‘persistently and voluntarily return’ to selling sex can be prosecuted and criminalised. This fails to recognise the ways in which young women find a sense of belonging in street prostitution communities, have emotional/financial pressures, a lack of other options, and therefore find it very difficult to withdraw from selling sex (Melrose et al, 1999, Pearce et al, 2003, O’Neill, 2001, Coy, 2007). Young women involved in prostitution need intensive support services and effective diversions. Legalising prostitution would suggest to young women, particularly those already vulnerable and marginalised, that selling sex is a normalised career option.

5. What are the wider social effects of legalising prostitution?

The sex industry is sometimes cited as a public service that reduces levels of rape and sexual violence. However, there is no evidence that prostitution reduces rape. In fact, the opposite can be said to be true if you consider all the rapes of women involved in prostitution. Evidence from Nevada, where prostitution is legal in some counties, indicates that legal prostitution fosters a general ‘prostitution culture’ that affects all women and children in the community (Farley, 2007). This results in increased sexual harassment. Nevada’s rape rate is twice that of New York and 25% higher than the US average (Farley, 2007).

Men also say that they are more likely to buy sex when it is legal and more socially acceptable (Coy, Horvath and Kelly, 2007). There are many destinations within Europe that men visit for ‘prostitution tourism’, such as Germany and the Netherlands but also the Czech Republic and others (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007).

6. Would legalising prostitution reduce the stigma attached to women who sell sex?

Legalising prostitution only reduces the stigma attached to the sex industry, not women who sell sex. This is partly because the stigmatisation of women who sell sex is rooted in how society thinks about women’s sexual behaviour. Think of the language that is used to be negative about women in prostitution – how many times do you hear the same words about women who have lots of sexual partners? We have no similar words for the men who use women in prostitution. Even “pimping” has been re-worked in popular culture to mean something cool and desirable.

That women in the Netherlands and Germany choose not to register tells us everything we need to know. Legalisation does not erase the stigma of prostitution and could even make women more vulnerable because they must lose anonymity (Bindel & Kelly, 2003). Legalisation improves the position and status of those who buy sex.

7. What support is available for women to leave prostitution?

Although support provision has increased in recognition of the specific needs of women in prostitution and their alienation from mainstream services, less than one in ten local authority areas have specialised support services for women in prostitution (Coy, Kelly & Foord, 2007). Women in prostitution are often homeless or in unstable housing, have drug/alcohol problems, few personal support networks, and histories of abuse. Criminal records (for street prostitution related offences) and unresolved welfare benefit claims make it difficult for women to find jobs and alternative sources of income.

These complex needs require holistic models of service provision (Hester & Westmarland, 2004). This includes outreach to women on the street and indoor premises; sexual health and safety advice and information; advocacy and liaison with mainstream services, housing advice, drug treatment, arrest referral, diversion schemes and provision of safe space. Very few services are funded for ‘exiting’ work, which focuses on enabling women to leave prostitution. There are only two statutory-funded specialised residential support projects for trafficked women in the UK (the POPPY Project in London and the Tara Project in Glasgow).

8. Who are the men that buy sex?

A number of international and UK studies show that men who buy sex are just as likely to be in relationships and/or married as men who do not buy sex. Recent research on men who buy sex in London found that 36% were in a relationship and a further 16% were married (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007). Similarly, of the profile of men arrested for kerb crawling, in one study almost half were married (Hester & Westmarland, 2004) and in another 73% had a regular sexual partner (Elliot et al, 2002). Some US research has found that men who buy sex are less likely to be married, but the differences are very small (Monto & McRee, 2005). In the London study, 40% of sex buyers were in their twenties. What is rarely discussed is the fact that the majority of men have not paid for sex.

9. Why do men do it and what do they say about it?

Men provide a range of reasons for paying for sex, all of which link in some way to beliefs about ‘male sex drives’ and a sense of entitlement (O’Neill, 2001, Mansson, 2004, McKeganey & Barnard, 1996): that men not only ‘need’ sex but also have a ‘right’ to it. The idea that men ‘need’ sexual release is frequently invoked when suggesting that prostitution prevents ‘innocent’ women from being sexually assaulted.

They also express a range of views about the women they pay: from clichéd ‘tarts with hearts’ ideas to viewing them as less intelligent, inferior and ‘dirty’ compared to other women (Elliott et al, 2002). Many men are instrumental, using the language of consumption moving here from notions of ‘value for money’ to seeing and treating women as just another commodity on the market (Coy, Horvath & Kelly, 2007). The focus is predominantly on the bad character and baseness of the prostituted woman rather than any self-reflection on the harm buyers of sex are inflicting. However, a minority also report feelings of shame, guilt and ambivalence, albeit that some of this group continue to pay for sex.

10. What would the criminalisation of the buyers of sex achieve?

Making the purchase of sex a criminal offence means defining the demand side of prostitution as the problem, rather than women who sell sex. Currently, kerbcrawling – picking up women in the street – is the only illegal activity associated with buying sex. Criminalising paying for sex altogether enshrines in law the principle that is the act of buying women’s bodies and male entitlement to do so that is the problem, not the setting.

Sweden made buying sex illegal in 1999, as part of a wider campaign to end violence against women and achieve gender equality. The Swedish government says that ‘prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem.’

There is debate over not only the impact of the Swedish reforms, but also how its success should be measured. Despite many claims there has been no official evaluation of it, other than to canvass public opinion and 80 per cent of Swedes support it. Sweden does not evaluate ‘success’ of legal reforms in the quantitative measures we expect in the UK – how many men have been prosecuted etc. Rather they use law in a normative way, and will assess the impact in terms of generational changes with respect to the acceptability of paying for sex. This is the same process as when in the early 1970s they outlawed smacking children: success was not how many parents were prosecuted, but that they changed understandings of the relationships between adults and children at first at home, and then more widely.

11. Is there any good practice in the UK that we can learn from?

In Scotland, prostitution is recognised as ‘a form of abuse of women’ and is included in strategic approaches to addressing violence against women. The Scottish Executive has introduced measures aimed at reducing demand through new legislation that criminalises buying sex on the streets (Prostitution (Public Places) Act 2007). A significant percentage of UK support services for women in prostitution are in Scotland (Coy, Kelly & Foord, 2007).

12. What is the link between prostitution and trafficking?

Trafficking of women into the sex industry is a direct consequence of demand for women and girls in prostitution. In countries where prostitution (or most aspects of it) is legal, sex industries are larger and create a demand for more women to sell sex, attracting traffickers and others who exploit women for financial gain. The legal sex industry acts as a magnet for traffickers, thus increasing the number of women who are being exploited. It also results in the growth of a parallel illegal sex industry. Recently, the Dutch government responded to estimates that as many as 3,500 women are trafficked to the Netherlands each year by announcing the closure of almost two-thirds of brothels in Amsterdam.

Barnard, M. A., Hurt, G., Benson, C. & Church, S. (2002) Client violence against prostitutes working from street and off-street locations: A three-city comparison, Swindon: ESRC Violence Research Programme.
Bindel, J. & Kelly, L. (2003) A Critical Examination of Responses to Prostitution in Four Countries: Victoria-Australia, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden. Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit, London Metropolitan University.
Coy, M. (2007) Young women, local authority care and selling sex British Journal of Social Work.
Coy, M, Kelly, L & Foord, J (2007) Map of Gaps: The Postcode Lottery of Violence Against Women Support Services London: End Violence Against Women Coalition
Coy, M, Horvath, M & Kelly, L (2007) It’s just like going to the supermarket: Men talk about buying sex in East London London: Child and Woman Abuse Studies Unit
DeRiviere, Linda (2006) ‘A human capital methodology for estimating the lifelong personal costs of young women leaving the sex trade’, Feminist Economics, 12:3, 367 – 402
Elliott, K., Eland, H. & McGaw, J. (2002) Kerb crawling in Middlesbrough: an analysis of kerb crawler’s opinions. Safer Middlesbrough Partnership Unpublished.
Farley M. (2007). Prostitution and trafficking in Nevada: making the connections. San Francisco: Prostitution Research and Education.
Harper, Z. & Scott, S. (2005) Meeting the Needs of Sexually Exploited Young People in London, Essex: Barnardos
Hester, M. & Westmarland, N. (2004) Tackling Street Prostitution: Towards an Holistic Approach. Home Office Research Study 279. London, Home Office.
Mansson, S. (2004) Men’s practices in prostitution and their implications for social work. In S. Månsson & C. Proveyer (eds) Social Work in Cuba and Sweden: Achievements and Prospects. Göteborg/Havanna: Department of Social Work/Department of Sociology.
Melrose, M et al (1999) One-way street: retrospectives on childhood prostitution London: The Children’s Society
McKeganey, N., & Barnard, M. (1996) Sex work on the streets Buckingham, UK: Open University Press
Monto, M. & Mcree, M. (2005) A comparison of the male customers of female street prostitutes with national samples. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 49, 505 529.
O’Neill, M et al (1995) ‘Juvenile Prostitution: the experience of young women in residential care’ in Childright Dec 1995 no 113
Pearce, J, Galvin, C and Williams, M (2003) It’s someone taking part of you: a study of young women and sexual exploitation London: National Children’s Bureau
Transcrime, (2005) Study on National Legislation on Prostitution and the Trafficking of Women and Children, Brussels: European Parliament.
Resources and research about young people and sexual exploitation can be found at

The EFF which was planned for 13-15 June 2008 in Warsaw, will not take place.

The European networks that have been cooperating since 2006 on the platform for debate and sharing entitled European Feminist Forum have decided, due to financial reasons, that the culmination of the process with the conference will not take place. This is the face-to-face meeting of European feminists, which we had scheduled to take place from 13-15 June 2008. Instead, the process will be concluded with a comprehensive publication.

The other parts of the European Feminist Forum process have taken place and we are very proud of the achievements. The process has set up a vivid field of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing, movement building and agenda setting in Europe. 21 Affinity Groups have debated urgent issues, and shared their information and knowledge through the European Feminist Forum website. Our process of visioning a feminist Europe was driven by many feminist-inspired voices, from young, migrant, male, minority and marginalized voices. The European Feminist Forum was constructed and has been an inclusive and joint platform of all of these groups from the start.


As organizers, we wish to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of feminists that have contributed to this initiative, often on a voluntary basis, and the thousands of interested feminists who wanted to be part of a renewed debate on feminism in Europe.

We acknowledge the members of the Steering Committee and the network organizations they represent, The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe, IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation) Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP),KARAT Coalition, The Network of East-West Women (NEWW)-Polska (, the Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI), Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE), for their continuing commitment to the success of this process.

We acknowledge the interns and staff at the European Feminist Forum Secretariat for their vision, enthusiasm and willingness to make a difference.

We acknowledge the staff and Board of the International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement, who are willing to take risks and who understand that to be an information sharing organization requires participating in communities of practice and who hosted the European Feminist Forum Secretariat.

We also acknowledge our many funders, Cordaid, Global Fund for Women, Hivos, ICCO (, Mama Cash (, Open Society Institute , Oxfam Novib , Unifem. They too are visionaries and committed to a feminist future in Europe.

Lack of funds is a political issue

Karat Coalition, the host organization in Poland, and the IIAV where the European Feminist Forum secretariat is housed, invested extensive personal and institutional resources in the fundraising efforts, which included visiting potential funders in Scandinavia, Poland and Brussels. Apart from those named above, funder after funder made clear this activity could not be funded from their limited budgets. It was not fundable by local or State governments (because it went over State boundaries), it was not a priority for many development aid budgets and it did not fit in to European Union tenders and Calls. The lack of funds for this type of new initiative is an indication of the current difficult context in Europe for the feminist movement, as observed in “Where is the Money for Women’s Rights?” (AWID report 2007). The European Feminist Forum program committee correctly identified this as a pressing issue for debate, especially in Europe.

A publication

Reflecting on the results so far of the European Feminist Forum, the programming committee has identified three topics to for further debate, as published on

The website

The initiating networks believe it is important to bring the activity to a close with a document that will be used to further efforts in Europe to provide women with full access to all their social, economic and political rights.
A publication will bring together the threads of the discussions among the Affinity Groups and report on the process of the European Feminist Forum, it will present the state of art feminist knowledge on the most pressing feminist issues, made up of many different voices it will map the state of the movement in Europe, and conclude on what the consequences are for Europe. The anticipated publication date is December 2008.

Future of the European feminist forum

We are proud to have been involved in the very first attempt to build a renewed vision on pressing pan-European issues, from a feminist perspective, and moving beyond the European Union’s new divisive boundaries. Europe is composed of more countries than those inside the European Union.

We hope that our collectively developed ideas and work will survive in another form. We still strongly believe in the need for a European Feminist Forum face-to-face meeting, and we hope that new initiatives will spring up elsewhere along the same lines. We offer everything we have learned in the process, our skills and contacts, plus the body of content work that we now have, to everyone who wishes to work on a European Feminist Forum in the future.

We hope that our publication will substantially contribute to a future European feminist forum initiative.

The website will remain online for at least two years. You are welcome to send your comments to the EFF discussion link or send them to the Secretariat (

The organizing networks of the European Feminist Forum:

The Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning
Babaylan- Philippine Women’s Network in Europe
IFOR’s (The International Fellowship of Reconciliation)
Women Peacemaker’s Program (WPP)
KARAT Coalition
The Network of East-West Women (NEWW)
The Joint Roma Women’s Initiatives (JRWI)
Network Women in Development Europe (WIDE)
International Information Centre and Archives for the Women’s Movement (IIAV)

Feminist Summit: The future of feminism in Europe

An international summit discussing the status of contemporary feminism, the role of arts and media and the participation of women in business and politics.

The summit will consist of a central opening discussion, two simultaneous roundtable discussion workshops and a concluding speech.

As part of the annual London Festival of Europe(see below), the Feminist Summit aspires to bring together a group of people across borders, genders and generations who have a shared interest in feminist issues today.

We hope to contribute to a revival of the feminist debate in Europe and to challenge participants to revaluate how feminism might contribute to the European Project.

* Intergenerational experience and perspectives on feminism in Europe today, and how feminism might be a useful framework to critique and contribute to the evolution of Europe.
* Sexualisation in the Arts and Media, and the role of the media in inspiring, reinforcing or modifying role models and stereotypes.
* Feminist engagement in the world of business and politics, how feminists are changing institutions of business and politics from the inside, and what some of the current forms of formal feminist political engagement are in Europe today.

Confirmed speakers to date include:
* Claire Fox, Institute of Ideas, London
* Dominique de la Garanderie, Founder of l’Association Française des Femmes Juristes
* Rosalind Gill, Open University, London
* Helen Mees, Women on Top, the Netherlands / New York
* Members of the Feminist Activist Forum, UK
* Loredana Rotondo, Filmmaker and Member of Altravista, Milan
* Teresa Rees, Cardiff School of Social Science, Cardiff
* Nima Sanandaji, President Captus think tank, Sweden
* Peter Tatchell, Human Rights Campaigner
* Lynn Turner, Goldsmiths College, London
* Patrizia Bisi, novelist, Rome

* Hampstead Town Hall, 213 Haverstock Hill (Belsize Park tube)London NW3 4QP
* Saturday 15 March 2:30 – 6:30 pm
* Registration from 2pm, Reception to follow

Convened by:
* Ségolène Pruvot, Shandi Miller, Anne Marthe Koeman, Federica Ambrosini

Download the Summit programme

Contact us and confirm your attendance

(The London Festival of Europe 2008 6th – 16th March 2008

Research into working conditions, everyday experience, strategies and policy development in women’s organisations

I would like to invite your organisation and the people working for it to participate in my research project on working conditions and everyday experience in care and community work for women in London. The following will give you a short overview of what this means for you and the information you decide to give me. Before you decide it is important for you to understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take time to read the following information carefully. Do not hesitate to talk about the study with other people.

* Who am I?
My name is Amanda Ehrenstein and I am a PhD student at Cardiff University. I am supervised by two Senior Researchers in the School of Social Sciences. The research has the approval of the School Research Ethics Committee and is funded by the School of Social Science at Cardiff University.

* Why am I doing this research?
Although there have been some studies on the reorganisation of funding for care and community services and the impact of recent government initiatives on smaller and highly specialised voluntary and community organisations in the UK, the effects of theses changes on working conditions in care and community work for and by women have not been examined in close detail.

* Who can take part?
I am approaching people in women’s voluntary and community organisations in London. As part of the overall research project I will also approach people working for local authorities and relevant government agencies as well as representatives of trade unions and social movement activists campaigning for better care and community services in the UK.

* What would be involved?
If you choose to participate I would like to discuss your views on the process of changes occurring in the Women’s Voluntary and Community Sector (WVCS) in London. This would last about one hour. I would like to talk to you about the following topics:
– How do you think your organisation is affected by the current reorganisation of funding for care and community work in the UK?
– What strategies have been applied and which proved to be useful to deal with these changes in the WVCS/in your organisation?
– What are the everyday experiences at work? How does your organisation deal with difficult living and working conditions related to care and community work?
– Have there been changes you would like to comment on regarding the content, direction, terms and conditions of work in the WVCS?
The interview will be digitally recorded. If you are interested I will come back to you for further interviews to clarify aspects of our conversation or to continue it on other aspects.

* What will be done with the information?
I will transcribe (parts of) the interview and if you are interested I will give you a copy of the transcript. The transcript will only be read and used by me for my research project and not be used for any other purpose. The information from these discussions will be the basis of my PhD thesis which will be assessed in order for me to gain the PhD degree. The transcripts might also be used to write and publish articles in academic journals or to give presentations on conferences and in academic seminars. You are welcome to see the final thesis and/or a copy of the articles/papers before they are published.

* Will everything said be kept private and will your taking part be confidential?
You can say as little or as much as you wish. The transcript and recordings will be kept in a secure place. In the transcript the names of yourself, the organisation(s) you work for and the names of the people you mention will be changed or omitted so you will not be identifiable.

* What if you change your mind about taking part?
If you decide to take part then this is your voluntary decision, therefore you are also free to withdraw from the study at any point you wish, without giving a reason.

If you would be interested in taking part or have any questions concerning the research, feel free to contact me at 020 7737 6189, 079 4694 2128 or email: I would be happy to answer any questions and look forward to meeting you.

Position: Finance and Administrative Officer
Part-time: 3 full working days per week
Location: London (Archway)
Salary: Negotiable

The London-based International Coordination Office (ICO) of Women Living Under Muslim Laws – International Solidarity Network (WLUML) is currently inviting applications for the position of a part-time Finance and Administrative Officer. WLUML is a not-for-profit organisation.

The role involves general office administration, financial management of a small office and project financial management (budgeting and donor reporting.) The ideal candidate should have excellent organisation, IT and financial management skills. A high level of competency in MS Excel is essential while working knowledge of Sage is desirable. The minimum qualification required for the role is NVQ Level 4 and 2 years experience of book-keeping. Familiarity with NGO budgeting would be an advantage.

* This position is only open to candidates who already have the legal right to live and work in the United Kingdom.
* The closing date for receipt of applications is 29th February, 2007 although the competition will remain open until the vacancy is filled.
* All completed applications marked ‘WLUML FAO’ should be sent by email to or by post to WLUML P.O. Box 28445, London N19 5NZ, United Kingdom.
* Committed to being environmentally friendly, we prefer to receive applications by email unless candidates do not have access to the Internet.
* Please note that only short-listed candidates will be contacted.

Internet porn barons are advertising in a jobcentre for unemployed women to strip and talk dirty on the web for paying perverts. The ad – offering wages of £10 an hour – is on show in the jobcentre in Clapham Common Old Town, where job seekers use touch-screen computers to search for work. It attempts to recruit women to strip off over the internet using webcams that can be set up in their own homes to beam images across the world to clients paying for the privilege. The job description states: “Duties include performing to webcam for clients’ or customers’ fantasies. “Duties involve explicit sexual dialogue which may cause embarrassment to some people.” The job involves women working between 15 and 40 hours a week online and is run by a company based in South Wales called Cybtrader. The ad also says anyone who takes the job may be able to claim tax credits to top up what they earn at work.

A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said jobcentres had a duty to advertise any legal job. In 2003, the Ann Summers company – which owns a string of adult shops across the UK – won a High Court case after a jobcentre refused to carry an advert for a job at one of its stores. The DWP spokesman said: “We have safeguards in place to ensure customers are fully aware of the nature of these jobs. Our advisers always check on the full details of any vacancies notified to us. Jobcentre Plus customers can choose whether or not to pursue these vacancies. Customers do not receive benefit sanctions if they do not apply for these vacancies.” He added that jobs in the adult entertainment business were clearly marked as unsuitable for under-18s and they were not actively brought to people’s attention. He said: “It would be up to them to express an interest in applying.”

Anti-porn campaigner Jennifer Drew said: “By advertising these jobs we normalise sexual violence against women and normalise the pornography industry. It reduces the sex industry to just another job.”

We contacted Cybtrader for comment but they were unavailable.

Press Release 27 December 2007 – Hain: new checks on employers in the adult entertainment industry

A crackdown on unscrupulous employers advertising jobs in the adult entertainment industry has been introduced by Jobcentre Plus, announced Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Peter Hain.

Employers found to be providing illegal services will have their access to Jobcentre Plus withdrawn and will be reported to the police.

Introducing the crackdown Peter Hain said:

“While we have a duty to advertise all legal vacancies, we must ensure that Jobcentre Plus is not used as a gateway to illegal activities. Jobseekers have a right to expect the jobs advertised in our offices and on our website are above board.

“Jobcentre Plus already has a number of safeguards in place to ensure our customers remain safe, however, the crackdown I’m announcing today will ensure that unscrupulous employers cannot dupe our customers. It’s time we nailed those that are intent on playing the system.”

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, welcomed the crackdown and said that these new checks will help protect vulnerable women and men from being misled and exploited.

Under the new measures employers will be required to sign a statement confirming the jobs advertised do not involve any illegal sexual services before Jobcentre Plus advertises its vacancy. Successful applicants will be contacted to ensure that nothing untoward or illegal was subsequently found to be part of the job requirement.

Safeguards already in place require employers to provide a full job description listing duties expected to be undertaken. In addition, JCP already ensure that; vacancies are clearly labelled as unsuitable for under 18s; no one is required to apply for these vacancies; and that a person’s benefit will not be affected should they choose not to apply.


Adult entertainment industry vacancies advertised by Jobcentre Plus represent a very small percentage of total jobs advertised. For example, for the 4 week period from 24 September to 19 October 2007 of the 195,448 jobs advertised by jobcentre plus, 25 were in the adult entertainment industry.

The new checks will apply to all adult entertainment industry vacancies which involve physical contact, such as vacancies for sauna workers, escorts and massage parlour workers. The checks will ensure that where physical contact is required it is not of a sexual nature.

About Jobcentre Plus:

Jobcentre Plus, part of the Department for Work and Pensions, brings together employment and benefit services for people of working age and is a key element in the Government’s objectives to help people based on ‘Work for those who can, support for those who cannot’. It provides a professional and modern service to meet the diverse needs of employers and those seeking work, including:

Personal advisers to provide practical support and advice to help those in need find and keep work, including training provision and benefits guidance
A dedicated service to support employers in filling their vacancies quickly and successfully, including the ability to place jobs online
Ability to search for jobs both online and over the phone through Jobpoints in Jobcentre Plus offices, the Jobseeker Direct phone line and through the website
Swift, secure and professional access to benefits for those entitled to them.
Customers can access Jobcentre Plus services through around 1,000 locations across Great Britain, including over 800 newly refurbished Jobcentre Plus offices. Touch-screen terminals and Customer Access Phones are also available in a further 120 sites such as libraries and local authority premises. Jobcentre Plus works with over 275,000 employers to place 17,000 people into work every week. Over 400,000 vacancies are listed each week on its website and more than 4m job search requests are received, making it the number one UK recruitment website.

For further information on the services that Jobcentre Plus provides employers and people of working age visit

DWP Press Office: 020 3267 5144
Out of hours: 07659 108 883

See also:

The Feminist Coalition Against Prostitution (FCAP) welcomes the verdict in Ipswich and hopes the sentence reflects justice for the five young women murdered and their families and friends who are dealing with this tragic loss.

This case proves that prostitution can NEVER be safe. Mr Wright, in his defence, presented himself as a normal ‘punter’, acknowledging he was a regular in the ‘red light district’ of Ipswich. And that is just what he was. The truth is that murderers and rapists do not have this written on their foreheads, whether women in prostitution have five minutes or five hours to assess a client, it is impossible to tell.

The only thing that will make prostitution safe is to end it. The time has come for our Government to make some radical decisions about prostitution reform so that not one woman more is lost to this ‘industry’. We welcome Harriet Harman’s support for the Swedish approach, which has decriminalised all those involved in prostitution and instead criminalised demand – the buyers. A recent survey by The Politics Show last month (January) found that the majority of the public polled believed that buying sex should be made a crime and that it is exploitative of women and girls.

We demand that our Government reflect public opinion and end the oldest oppression.

FCAP is a large Coalition of numerous women’s organisations, Trade Union branches, peace organisations and international organisations.

Read the open letter to the Solicitor-General from Women Against Rape

I welcome the opportunity to respond to the article by Women Against Rape published on February 11. Long before I became a Minister, I, too, was a campaigner for justice for victims of rape; now I have responsibility for the prosecution of rape and serious sexual offences.

I can say from personal experience that the Crown Prosecution Service are by no means complacent in this area and there is a real commitment to work in partnership with the police to build stronger cases that will secure more convictions.

Rape is one of the most feared and damaging crimes in our society. It is an appalling crime that devastates the lives of victims and their families. It takes enormous courage for a victim to report the crime and they deserve the best support that can be provided and to see justice done.

We as a Government are doing all we can to reduce the incidence of rape and ensure that investigations and prosecutions are conducted as effectively as possible. We are determined to take all legislative and non-legislative measures possible to improve the conviction rate.

Rape will always be a difficult offence to prosecute. According to the British Crime Survey of 2001, 54 per cent of rapists were current or former partners of the victim and only 17 per cent were strangers. With non-stranger rapes often there are no independent witnesses present and little or no forensic evidence available. Fewer than 6 per cent of rape cases reported to the police ultimately result in conviction.

Ministers have said on many occasions that we regard the conviction rates in rape cases as unacceptably low. Increasing conviction rates is vital, not only in terms of delivering justice for victims but also in terms of sending a deterrent message to potential offenders, preventing rapists committing further offences and securing the confidence of victims and the wider public in the criminal justice system.

It is not right, as Women Against Rape suggest, that there has been no progress in this area over the last few years. While it is right that the overall conviction rate has fallen since 1997 — from 9.3 per cent to 5.7 per cent — this has to be understood in the light of a significant rise in the numbers or reported rapes, which have risen from 6,628 in 1997 to 14,449 in 2005-6. This rise in reporting is to be welcomed: it demonstrates that victims are increasingly having the confidence to come forward and report rape — partly, no doubt, as a result of greater awareness of rape in society but also as a result of the way in which cases are now investigated and prosecuted.

And we are now seeing greater numbers of convictions for rape and the overall percentage figure moving in the right direction. In 2005-06, 820 convictions for rape were recorded, up from 618 in 1997. And the overall conviction rate has risen by half a percentage point since 2003-4 (from 5.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent).

The Government has already made a number of changes both to the law on rape and to how the police and CPS work together to build better cases. In particular, we have strengthened the law through the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and updated the law on bad character and hearsay evidence. This now means that more relevant evidence is considered by the jury. Those who commit sexual offences face tough sentences — the average length of sentence for rape has doubled since 1984 and we have introduced indeterminate sentences for public protection.

We have introduced Specialist Officers and specialist Rape Prosecutors across England and Wales and are introducing specialist training for police, prosecutors and barristers acting in rape cases. We have put in place new arrangements for the performance management of police forces and the CPS. The new Criminal Justice Public Service Agreement will make clear that rape should be a national and local priority. All police forces are receiving operational support to develop and deliver action plans to improve rape investigation strategies and implement recommendations from the 2007 report of the police and CPS inspectorates.

We have made a further series of changes to ensure victims are supported through the criminal justice process. We have invested around £10 million in services to support victims of sexual violence and abuse over the last four years, and look forward to continuing these initiatives in the future. We are extending the network of Sexual Assault Referral Centres, where victims receive medical care and counselling and can assist the police investigation through a forensic examination. There were five in 2001 and are currently 19. There will be at least 36 by the end of the financial year 2008-09. In addition, we are funding the piloting of independent sexual violence advisors in 38 areas to provide advocacy and support for victims and providing funding through the Victims Fund for voluntary organisations that support them.

Last November, I announced the Government’s response to the 2006 rape consultation paper that sought views in relation to four issues, aimed at improving the conviction rate through strengthening the existing legal framework, helping to reduce the barriers to effective prosecution and improving further the care for victims and witnesses. We announced that, in order to ensure that juries hear as much relevant evidence as possible, we will legislate to make victims’ complaints automatically admissible whenever they were made. Secondly, we propose to vary the legal test so that video recordings of victims’ evidence are automatically admissible and prosecutors will have a broader discretion to ask supplementary questions of the witness. This will enable prosecutors to decide how to call the best evidence in a case, taking account of the views of the victim.

Further, we are clear that justice must not be defeated by myths and stereotypes. It is desirable for juries to receive information concerning the psychological reactions of rape victims in order to dispel myths as to how they behave after incidents of rape. We will continue to explore ways to present fair and factual material in a controlled and consistent way. I am leading this work and recently chaired a meeting of experts from a variety of disciplines to look at it.

Our aims are clear. We are determined that all parts of the criminal justice system work together to ensure that the cases that come before the courts are as strong as possible — and are prosecuted as strongly as possible. Although there is some way to go, we are making real progress.

A call for direct action!
Support the Day of Action: 23 April 2008

Leading women’s groups and charities including Southall Black Sisters, Amnesty International UK, National Women’s Aid (England), Refuge, Imkaan, Newham Asian Women’s Project, Women’s Resource Centre and many others, are calling for a day of mass action on 23 April 2007, to protest against the existence of the ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ requirement which causes immense suffering and hardship to women who do not have secure immigration status and who experience domestic violence.

Enhancing the power of abusers

Evidence from around the country shows that the ‘no recourse’ requirement forces women with unsettled status to endure the most horrific abuse imaginable: imprisonment in the home, slavery, starvation and acute mental distress are significant features of such abuse. The ‘no recourse’ requirement enhances the power of violent perpetrators and allows them to abuse with impunity whilst at the same time increasing the vulnerability of the unsettled spouse or partner. Yet when women seek help from statutory and voluntary service providers, they are often denied the options – safe housing and welfare service provisions – that are available to abused women in the wider society because they are not entitled to access public funds due to their immigration status. The result is that these women face a stark choice: either to stay in their abusive relationships and risk their lives or leave and risk extreme poverty, destitution, financial and sexual exploitation.

Subverting the ethos of the voluntary sector and the spirit of zero tolerance!

The failure of the government to heed calls to abolish or at the very least reform the ‘no recourse’ requirement has also led to widespread anger, dissatisfaction and frustration amongst service providers including women’s refuges and the police, because they are compelled to turn abused women away and deny them life saving services. This denial subverts the very ethos of service provision especially in the voluntary sector; to protect and support all women in the face oaf abuse and to uphold their human rights and dignity, irrespective of their backgrounds. Worse still, abused women with ‘No Recourse’ are increasingly forced to rely on help from strangers and religious institutions. Whilst some are genuinely helpful, it is widely recognised that this is an inappropriate and even dangerous approach that would not be tolerated as a domestic violence strategy in the wider society.

End Double standards

Despite waging a long campaign against ‘no recourse’, the lack of an adequate response from the government has led a wide range of organisations to call for direct action. There is a growing momentum within the voluntary sector and caring services for something to be done to change the present situation.

We therefore call on you to help build the biggest mass movement this country has seen against the ‘no recourse’ requirement. We need to show the government that the voluntary sector, the police and the caring services cannot be taken for granted. The human rights of black and minority women who do not have secure immigration status are not dispensable. Enough is Enough!

What you can do:

We call on all front-line service providers and their users to join our protest in London on 23 April 2008. We will be providing further advice and information on how your organisation can take part in the day of action over the coming months. In the meantime, please ensure that you have affiliated to the campaign and put the 23 April 2008 in your diary;

Whatever the nature of your organisation, we ask you to consider providing only a skeletal emergency service on 23 April 2007 so that you can join us. We ask you to suspend all non-urgent services for that day but ensure that emergency cover is in place and that issues of health and safety are not compromised;

If you are attending the day of action public meeting in London, will you please make an appointment with your MP so that you can lobby him/her in the House of Commons

If you are a refuge you may be interested to know that housing associations have no objection to the day of action as long as health and safety requirements are met and all staff are aware of the procedures to follow including in an emergency;

If you are unable to attend the day of action in London on 23 April, we strongly encourage you to still take part in the day of action by considering the following:

Take part in an email campaign. Send emails to your local MP and get him/her to raise questions with Harriet Harman MP Deputy leader of the Labour Party; Hazel Blears MP Secretary of State for Department of Communities and Local Government; John Dunworth MP Head of Interpersonal Violence Home Office and others in the Ministry of Justice; Department of Work and Pensions and leaders of relevant departments at your local authority such as directors and assistance directors of essential services, commissioners, lead officers of the Supporting People Programme etc.

Organise high profile joint activities with others in your locality to highlight ‘no recourse’.

Organise press releases for the campaign in your area highlighting the ‘no recourse’ issue; how your users are affected and the demands of the campaign.
Please let SBS know what activities you are planning. (Contact details are set out below)

Please also show your support by:
* Lobbying your own MP on the issue
* Affiliate to the campaign. Leaflets with tear off slips are available from SBS (See contact details below) or go the Southall Black Sisters website:

Donate to the campaign. Make all cheques payable to the ‘Abolish No Recourse Campaign’. Return to Southall Black Sisters (SBS), 21 Avenue Road, Southall, Middlesex, UB1 3BL.
Tel: 0208 571 9595.
Fax: 0208 574 6781

Mansfield and Ashfield Women’s Aid has been awarded a grant of £5,000 to help raise awareness of the service it provides.

The charity has been given the funds by the Nationwide Foundation — a grant provider financed by Nationwide Building Society — to help tackle the problem of domestic violence.

Linda Faulkner, finance administrator at Mansfield and Ashfield Women’s Aid, told Chad: “This grant will enable us to promote the service on a wider scale to potential service users, agencies and raise awareness within the community.”

The charity runs a safety centre to provide advice and information to women who are victims of domestic violence but faces a major shortfall in funds to run it after March.

For help with domestic violence visit

A successful programme that helps change the behaviour of abusive men towards their partners has been made more widely accessible by Somerset County Council.

The Make the Change initiative is run by Somerset Change, a division of Relate, and helps men address the factors that can lead to abusive behaviour. Since the project began in 2006, new courses have been set up in more areas of the county. The new programme will enable people to complete the course over 15 weekly group sessions and will take place on Saturdays in Taunton. Each session will last five hours and ensures it will cover the same material as the 30-week programme So far 19 individuals have completed the programme – and only one has re-offended.

Beverly Symonds, project manager for Somerset Change, said: “Domestic abuse is often wrongly understood. It can be psychological, sexual, emotional or financial. We help men who recognise they commit this sort of abuse and want to stop. We are pleased to be able to extend this programme, which not only changes the lives of the participants but also the lives of their families.”

Men have to make contact with the service themselves but may be referred to sessions by groups such as Relate. Somerset County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Safety, Councillor Jim Mochnacz, adds: “Make the Change has made a positive difference in our communities. “We are pleased to have supported it since the beginning and it is hugely satisfying to see it grow and offer help to more people, making Somerset a safer place.”

Transition Year (TY) students highlight horror of domestic violence

They may be County Mayo’s only entrants in the Young Social Innovators project for this school year, but the Transition Year (TY) students of Davitt College, Castlebar, sure knew how to pull an emotionally-charged punch at yesterday’s (Monday’s) presentation on domestic violence.

“My name is Chris/I am three,/My eyes are swollen/I cannot see,/I must be stupid/I must be bad,/What else could have made/My daddy so mad.”

Their short and simple drama was created by using a tableau of two figures illuminated behind a screen, with one repeatedly assaulting the other, as a chorus of students narrated a grim tale.

“The hurt and the pain/Again and again/O please let it end!/And he finally stops/And heads for the door/While I lay there motionless/Sprawled on the floor/My name is Chris/I am three/ Tonight my daddy/Murdered me.”

For these TY students, who wish to ‘inspire a change’, a ‘broken home equals a broken heart’. On Thursday next they will join with other Young Social Innovators in Sligo and make their short dramatic presentation. They will also sell ‘Inspire a Change’ wrist bands to their fellow students in a fundraising effort for Mayo Women’s Support Services (MWSS) and their refuge.

“We think it is fantastic that the students are raising awareness about domestic violence. I think, as the Inspector [Mick Murray] said, the impact on children is not highlighted often enough. Children can be very torn and very confused by marital difficulties and violence,” said Catherine Neary of MWSS.

Praising the students for their dramatic presentation earlier, Insp Murray had observed it was usually the husband and wife who were highlighted when focusing on domestic violence issues.

“As a garda since 1980, I have dealt with more domestic violence incidents than I wanted to. Your depiction was impressive. It is usually the husband and the wife we meet and the children are often emotionally neglected and ignored in the whole situation,” said Insp Murray. He said that ‘economic circumstances’ was a very common reason for a woman remaining in a violent home. “Any man that hits a woman is a coward,” concluded Insp Murray. He warned: “Girls, don’t stay with a man that hits you.”

Congratulating Class 4a, Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Eugene McCormack, said the presentation had been ‘very thought-provoking’. “What I found interesting was that it was behind the screen and that, in reality, this is what often happens behind closed doors,” he said.

School Principal, Mr Ioseph McGowan, said the students’ chosen subject was a very topical one. “It is very important that young people live beyond their own interests. They have put a huge amount of work into this and will now raise money for the women’s refuge,” said Mr McGowan.

Last year there were 178 referrals to the MWSS. There have been 1,800 since the services started in 1996. Since 1996, 131 women have been murdered in Ireland; over half of them, 82, in their own homes.

Young Social Innovators was created in 2001 to develop social awareness and activism among young people – aged between 15 and 18. It aims to help them become effective champions for social justice no matter what job or profession they enter. The framework involves students working in teams, to identify a social issue they feel they could help to change. The chosen issue may affect their school, community, Ireland in general, or have an international aspect.

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This, it believes would go a long way to help fight against the spread of the world’s most dreaded enemy, the HIV/AIDS virus.

The organization has thus called for a review of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) law, which was enacted at a congress in the United State of America five years ago. It also asked stakeholders to intensify their efforts to reduce the prevalence of AIDS since the virus is sweeping through the ages. At a press briefing in Accra, the International President for SWAA, Mrs. Bernice Heloo noted that the campaign of ‘abstinence and be faithful’ as a means of controlling HIV/AIDS epidemic was not the best.

She believes that the strategy rather increases the spread of the virus since according to her, it was not geared towards advocating for the use of condoms. It is in the light of this that SWAA and its partners have recognized the important support of the US programme on HIV/AIDS, as well as the authorization for programs on malaria, TB, health systems and other issues. “This strategy, which sees a disease from a moral perspective when it is not, is not an approach or strategy supported in Africa or inspired by African success stories,” she noted. She thus expressed her gratitude to the US government for showing commitment towards less privileged countries to combat the virus.

That notwithstanding, the President of SWAA has appealed to the US President, George W. Bush to take into consideration preventive measures of the virus, during his visit to Ghana and other African countries in the sub region. “We want the President to extend PEPFAR funds to organizations advocating for the use of condoms as congress is reseating to draft the next five years budget.” She underscored. Mrs. Heloo further urged the US President to include clauses such as violence against sex workers, discrimination, human rights violation and other forms of abuse as congress is pending to enact the law on PEPFAR for the next five years.

She was of the view that to win the fight against HIV/AIDS, sex workers must not be excluded from the campaign since they were the first victims of spreading the disease. “The PEPFAR authorized the President to support TB, Malaria and HIV/AIDS at the cost of US$15 billion over the last five years to prevent and give health care to those living with the disease,” she noted.

On her part, Mrs. Seno, local President of SWAA, Ghana, urged the US President not to undermine the countries abilities to determine how best to prevent the transmission of the disease among their own population.