Sticking up for sex workers draws mixed responses

Neville Southall’s recent comments on sex work draw praise from Stella Brook of the English Collective of Prostitutes, while Labour MEP Mary Honeyball condemns Catherine Healy’s elevation in the Queen’s birthday honours

Neville Southall’s compassionate, commonsense support for sex workers (‘I’ve got a bit of flak because I stick up for sex workers’, 5 June) is much needed at this time. He points out the absurdity of accusing someone of supporting trafficking because they “stick up for sex workers”. Shame so few politicians listen. The recent “pop-up brothel” inquiry by an all-party parliamentary group ignored evidence from current sex workers and recommended increased criminalisation using speculation and unsubstantiated data about trafficking as justification.

Meanwhile police crackdowns against sex workers continue. When we report rape and other violence the police do little or nothing – most of the time we are scared to come forward for fear of being arrested ourselves. And, to top it all, austerity cuts, particularly benefit sanctions and the change to universal credit, are pushing more women, particularly mothers, on to the game. Politicians who want to ban sex work should say what they think we should do instead to feed ourselves and our kids. We have a proposal for a new prostitution policy – outlaw poverty not prostitution.
Stella Brook
English Collective of Prostitutes

• Honouring Catherine Healy in the Queen’s birthday honours for services to the rights of sex workers (Report,, 4 June) condones prostitution.

Dame Catherine Healy, founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective.
Dame Catherine Healy, founder of the New Zealand Prostitutes Collective. Photograph: Nick Perry/AP

To celebrate the activism of someone who has been so instrumental in decriminalising something that has such negative consequences on vulnerable women and vulnerable parts of society is reckless. Normalising prostitution does not help vulnerable women in any way.
Mary Honeyball MEP
Labour spokesperson in Europe for gender and equality

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