Saturday, December 4

Sex workers prosecuted for keeping each other safe


 

 

Two sex workers who were dragged through the courts for sharing a workplace just to keep each other safe are celebrating after charges against them were dropped.

The extraordinary climbdown saw the Crown Prosecution Service accused of trying to extort cash from the pair by forcing them to hand over their earnings.

The English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), a campaign group that fought their side, has said the Crown’s decision to abandon proceedings strengthens the case to decriminalise prostitution altogether.

It came after thousands of people wrote to the CPS in outrage that the women were being prosecuted instead of protected.

One of the pair, named only as Ms O, said: They said I was a criminal but I am a good mother working to make sure my child has a better life.

I worked with my friend because it’s safer. Thank goodness that I was sent angels like the ECP girls to help me. I would never have been able to fight this on my own.

Before the charges were dropped, they had been repeatedly downgraded, with the CPS latterly offering them police cautions in exchange for the cash cops seized during a raid.

The women, Ms O and Ms R, were raided by police on September 19 and charged with managing a brothel even though neither woman’s name was actually on the tenancy of the Surrey property.

During the raid, police took all of the money on the premises about £1,000 without giving a receipt.

As well as not being listed on the property’s tenancy, the women, who are friends, were not forcing each other to work.

Due to current laws around brothel-keeping the laws under which the women were prosecuted some sex workers are too fearful to work together at the same location and as a result often compromise their safety by working alone.

In this case the women, who are both migrants, had prioritised their safety and were sending money back to Brazil to support their families.

The pair believe they were reported by a vindictive client who had attempted to extort free sex from them.

Determined to fight the case and backed by the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECP), the women pleaded not guilty during a hearing at North Surrey Magistrates Court.