Murder in Leeds "Managed" Red-Light District Shows it is Time to End it
Despite the murder of a young Polish prostitute, Daria Pionko, in Leeds just days before Christmas, a pilot-schemed “red-light” district has been given the go-ahead and is set to become a permanent feature of the city.
Within the Holbeck region of the city, prostitutes will face a substantially reduced likelihood of arrest for loitering, soliciting and kerb crawling between 7AM and 7PM while complying with some specific rules.
The reason for the City Council’s decision is that they say their efforts to reduce the incidents of prostitution over the last 10 years have failed and so they have concluded, in a strange distortion of logic, that less policing will somehow serve the safety of the prostitutes.
Indeed in the light of the recent murder of a prostitute, this kind of reasoning is truly tragic. Beyond taking away the fear of prosecution, this "managed" district does very little to solve the very real dangers that come with being a prostitute. Nor does it do anything for the human dignity of those who sell the bodies for sexual favours.
Being unafraid to report an assault, still means an assault, and this “managed” district will surely offer little solace to any future the murder victim. Women in prostitution are 18 times more likely than the general population to be murdered, and the reasons why this is the case remain completely unaddressed.
Moreover those who sell their bodies through sex experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety disorders at levels similar to those who have been in armed combat. So while we should of course be concerned with their physical safety, this is a not a line of work we would wish on anyone.
Demand drives prostitution. Therefore if nobody purchased sex, prostitution would be eradicated. One of the many sad realities about prostitution is that it only exists because certain members of the population (most of whom are male) continue to demand it. When those who (ab)use women working as prostitutes were asked if having their name and picture made public, being given a criminal record or a fine, or being added to the sex offenders register would deter them from buying sex, 80-85% confirmed that it would.
Given that over 90% of prostitutes across a number of countries have said that they want to escape prostitution immediately, it seems like, rather than providing a “managed” area for them to “work” it would be far better to promote routes for them to escape from it, and pursue those who use prostitutes rather than the prostitutes themselves. The fact that some people end up in prostitution as a result of human trafficking, is yet another consideration which Leeds City Council appear not to have taken into account.
Sign this petition to Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds Central, ask him to urge the City Council to abandon their decision and asking that he pursue alternative means to help those who are trapped in prostitution.
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Leeds Red Light District is a Disaster - End it Now