In Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland), the act of engaging in sex as part of an exchange of sexual services for money is legal.*
*Yes, you read that correctly. Prostitution is LEGAL in most of the UK. In Northern Ireland paying for sex became illegal in 2015.
Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world, and like every good business, it works around demand and supply.
However sex workers have been stigmatised through the ages. Shall we brush up on some history? I thought I would start with recent times… how’s the Middle Ages?
Red, the colour of love, and the umbrella, symbolising protection.
Throughout history, the sex work industry has had many challenges, but that never stopped it. In a way, it has been functioning like all the other businesses, built on demand and supply: clients keep pouring money in and the sex work industry keeps growing.
After so much back and forth, with regulations regulating and deregulating the industry throughout history, where does that leave us? Where does that leave the sex workers? And the clients? Neither is going anywhere.
The short answer is sketchy. As in, the way the industry is regulated is sketchy at best. Basically, the profession itself is legal, but pretty much everything else is not, and that includes: soliciting in a public place, curb crawling (that’s not when someone parks the car on the curb, more like when someone drives reeeeeally slowly to solicit sex workers in their ‘workplace’), pimping, pandering, middle-men/middle-women, brothels (working with another sex worker under the same roof counts as that), and more.
We looked at the industry, its journey, its regulations, the society surrounding it… but have we look at the sex workers? What is the story there? What is going on? So I thought, why not interview a sex workers’ outreach project and find out more?
The Red Umbrella is the worldwide symbol of the sex workers’ rights movement. It come into existence in Italy, in 2001, when sex workers from different countries gathered and marched at the their World Congress in Venice. Because it’s Italy, there was a “Prostitutes Pavilion”, with video projections, exhibitions, performances, street theater, and distribution of printed materials. Sounded like a fun day out, if it weren’t that they were marching for their rights.
And so I did… next week I will publish an interview blog 🙂
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